We can learn a lot about photography by observing and analyzing the works of the masters. Henri Cartier-Bresson is one of my favorite photographers of all times, the master of the decisive moment. Although he thought of photography as “immediate reaction,” he managed to combine prompt reaction with great composition.
In his two-part video series, photographer Tavis Leaf Glover was focused particularly on composition in Cartier-Bresson’s photos. He decomposes some of his images to show how masterfully used the principles of dynamic symmetry and geometry. If you want to learn from the master, these two videos are certainly something to watch.
Tavis created two videos: in the first one, he breaks down the composition of horizontal photos, and the second one shows the vertical ones. He uses the 1.5 rectangle and the principles of dynamic symmetry for the analysis. This is the basic grid of the 1.5 rectangle:
Using the grid, Tavis analyzes the composition patterns Cartier-Bresson used in his works. His photos are masterfully composed although they were captured in a fraction of a second. They lead the viewer’s eye and capture attention, and it’s more than just composition he used to achieve it.
In some of his works, he also uses the figure-ground relationship to draw attention and emphasize the subject. It’s usually achieved by photographing a bright subject on a dark background or the other way around. He places the main subjects at polar points of the image to make them balance each other. Many of his photos depict gestures and texture, which add life to the scene. If you pay attention, there are also many geometrical shapes.
Although Cartier-Bresson’s images are brief moments of life captured on film, I’m sure they required a fast reaction. And yet, he was obviously still able to plan the shots and compose them in order to get the best out of these moments. I found these videos not only interesting to watch, but also useful. They teach us to “see” composition patterns in the photos, but also to start seeing them through our viewfinder before taking the shot.
[via PDN Pulse]