There is a very specific characteristic softness in the portraits by Bresson. Technically its easy to see that the softness comes from his Leica lens but its really important to understand that he chose to work with softness. The Inner Silence – The Portraits of Henri Cartier Bresson explores the same softness and the idea of a portrait, rather than a portrait itself. Its one of those books which I had bought about a year ago but as it was in Delhi, I didn’t have access to it.
Bresson always thought of himself, first and foremost as a painter. And its easy to see how the classical paintings have influenced his work. A extract from the book says “His love for painting led him at the end of the war, after his escape, to photograph artists”. Also as you read through the book, one tends to notice how the portraits are silent and how Bresson steps out of the very idea of “decisive moment”, taking a new path towards these pictures. Using time to wash off the subjects shell, he brings out the core of the individual, silent and profound.
“A true portrait, therefore is one in which the subject represented is not caught in any action, and does not even show any expression that might detract from the person in themselves”
A great book to add to your collection, specially when today everyone is obsessed with equipment and flashes, its amazing to see what a simple camera and a single lens with a mind of a genius can do.