Just be receptive, and it will happen

FRANCE. Paris. Place de l'Europe. Gare Saint Lazare. 1932.
FRANCE. Paris. Place de l’Europe. Gare Saint Lazare. 1932.

In a documentary film of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the camera captures Cartier Bresson flipping through his “The Decisive Moment” book and stopping on the above picture, one of his most iconic and well known photographs. The image that comes to mind when thinking about “The Decisive Moment”. Here’s how Cartier-Bresson explains the behind the scene:

Cartier-Bresson: “The planks were like this, [demonstrating with his hands that they were very narrow] so only the lens went through. I couldn’t see a thing through the viewfinder.”

Interviewer: “You couldn’t see the man leaping?”


Interviewer: “That was luck.”

Cartier-Bresson:”It’s always luck…It’s luck that matters, you have to be receptive, that’s all…just be receptive, and it will happen.”

And indeed, later in the video clip, the narrator explains the 1969 Simiane-la-Rotonde, France courtyard image in which:

“Henri is on the lookout, ready to react, not even needing to stop.”


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