Henri Cartier-Bresson
[Photographer and painter, b. 1908, Chanteloup, France, d. 2004, Paris.]

 I’m not responsible for my photographs. Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience. It’s drowning yourself, dissolving yourself and then sniff, sniff, sniff—being sensitive to coincidence. You can’t go looking for it; you can’t want it, or you won’t get it. First you must lose your self. Then it happens. 
 I regard myself still as an amateur, though I am no longer a dilettante. (Introduction to The Decisive Moment, 1952) 
 Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. 
 Time runs and flows and only our death succeeds in catching up with it. Photography is a blade which, in eternity, impales the dazzling moment. 
 I was marked, not by Surrealist painting, but by the conceptions of Breton [which] satisfied me a great deal: the role of spontaneous expression and of intuition and, above all, the attitude of revolt. 
 I love painting. As far as photography is concerned, I understand nothing. 
 One must creep up to the subject on tip toes, even when it involves a still life. One must put on velvet gloves and have Argus eyes. No pushing or crowding: an angler doesn’t stir up the waters beforehand. 
 We are always struggling with time: whatever has gone has gone forever. The time element is the key to photography. One must seize the moment before it passes, the fleeting gesture, the evanescent smile. For it is impossible to “start again.” That’s why I am so nervous—it’s horrible for my friends—but it’s only by maintaining a permanent tension that I can stick to reality. 
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