Henri Cartier-Bresson photography

Hello everyone! This morning I went to an exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Brussels about the world famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. In my last year of university, I learned about the theoretical basics of photography.  Cartier-Bresson played an important role in the history of photography. He was one of the founders of Magnum Photography, an association created by photographers who were looking for very high quality. Until today, only the best photographers can become a member of Magnum. My favorite Belgian Magnum photographer is Carl De Keyzer! But for now, let me tell you what I saw this morning.



The Jewish Museum has been assaulted a few months ago, so there are soldiers at the entrance. It feels a bit strange to be obliged to empty your pockets before entering, especially in a Belgian museum, but in Paris they do it all the time. So don’t let it stop you. The entrance fee for the exhibition is €10 (€7 for students). I think it’s a reasonable price because how many times in your life do you get to see 133 pictures of Henri Cartier-Bresson? 😉

Unfortunately, the first thing I saw was a ‘no pictures’  symbol. I was disappointed because I really wanted to show you my favorite pictures. Because of the copyright legislation, it’s not easy to find pictures online that can be used without having to ask for permission. On the other hand, I thought it might be interesting to make you feel like you were there without showing any pictures. Challenge accepted!

Cartier-Bresson was a documentary photographer. He wanted to show what’s happening in the world in an honest way, without being too dramatical or without adding too much effects afterwards. He went all over the world to capture the moment. This is exactly why he had so much influence in photography. He is known for capturing ‘the decisive moment‘. In a video at the exhibition (first flour) he explains that usually photography is about not thinking too much. You have to seize the moment and take the picture, if not, you might have missed your chance. But other times, he said, it’s more important to wait for a while and take the picture at the moment something unusual happens. That’s the decisive moment! There is no theory about when to take a picture, it’s all about instinct.

All the pictures are in black and white, because he thought it looked more abstract. What stroke me about his work, is the way some of the pictures made me feel. It seems impossible not to feel anything when looking at them. Sometimes I felt sympathy for the subject, or I felt sorry for them. He often creates an intimate feeling, like you are witnessing something extraordinary. In the video he explains that it’s not always easy to have the courage to make a picture. It can feel very uncomfortable because you feel like you are disrespecting someone’s privacy. Some of his subjects are poor people who are begging for money or sleeping in the streets. Or even a dead body that is left after the end of World War II.

This ability of making an image that creates an emotion is something I find fascinating. It makes me want to take some photography lessons very soon. I can’t help feeling privileged that I’ve seen his pictures in real life :).

More info?

You can visit the exhibition until August 24, 2015. It’s a 10 min walk from the Central Station, in the ‘quartier Marolles’. The Jewish Museum needs a renovation, so don’t expect to see a very modern building. But the quality of the artworks is so amazing that you will not regret it!

To see the pictures of Cartier-Bresson online, visit the website of Magnum Photography!


Website of the Jewish Museum:


See you next time!




You may also like

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.