Henri Cartier-Bresson type photography is dead

Above is an example of a Henri Cartier-Bresson photo that’s widely admired and considered museum-worth Art, just because it’s such an awesome photo, even though it’s just a staircase somewhere in France and just some unknown guy riding a bicycle. And while HCB’s photos are presented as being found happenstance, for all we know HCB colluded with the guy in the photo to ride the bicycle down that street.

A photo like this today has zero chance of getting you any type of acclaim. There are thousands of people today, maybe even tens of thousands, who consider themselves “street photographers” and none of them are doing anything especially original. Back in the 1930s, only a handful of people were taking “street photos” and Bresson was the best of that very small group.

Whatever the role of photography is today as art, a single photo of an unknown person on an insignificant street in France doesn’t fit into that role.

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It’s worth noting that the photo isn’t very sharp by modern standards. Demonstrating that maybe you don’t need the world’s most expensive gear to create art. On the other hand, with so many photos on the internet, in order to stand out you probably don’t want it to look sub-par in any way, which means not having the slightest hint of unshaprness when viewed at normal web resolution.

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