straight down the line

Noir Photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer born in 1908. He is considered to be the father of photojournalism through his use of candid photography, street photography, and life reportage style. Some of his photographs really capture the style of noir, probably partially because of the nature of his work, it needed to be realistic, and because of what he chose to report on, dangerous or unhealthy situations which often seem hopeless.

Taken in Spain in 1933.

The image featured above displays some of the stylistic characteristics of noir. The harsh lines cross the image making the photograph appear separated. The motion of the child on the left gives the impression that the camera was moving around the child on the right. There is nearly equal stress on the surroundings as there is the subject. Additionally, it gives the sense of hopelessness because of the expression the child has looking at his surroundings.

Taken in Paris, France in 1932.

Similarly, these image captures some of the stylistic aspects seen in film noir to create it’s tone. The walls and tracks create harsh lines that splinter the image. There is equal focus given to the two men as there is to the surroundings they’re observing. An overall tone of hopelessness is given as they look out at a railroad that could take them anywhere, yet they have no way to get on a train. This lack of potential for movement was common for many people during the time and therefore captures the realistic element in this image.

Taken in Paris, France in 1932.

This photograph is of French plasterers, who work to put down plaster to create inner walls or create decorative molds on walls. Equal focus again is given to both the subjects and their surroundings, at first glance they’re difficult to distinguish. The tone of hopelessness is created by the men looking out at all the sacks which may represent work that they must accomplish. It’s overwhelming and nearly impossible. Yet, for these men and other workers this was their lifestyle giving the realistic quality to this image.

Leave a Comment