The Masterful Photo Compositions of Henri Cartier-Bresson

Ever wonder what it is that makes Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” photos “work”? Photographer Tavis Leaf Glover put out a two-part video series in which he explores Cartier-Bresson’s famous photos and shows how they conform to various ideas and principles of composition.

These videos show “how Henri Cartier-Bresson used dynamic symmetry, or geometry, in his photography,” Glover writes. “I’ll talk in depth about many composition and design techniques he used in some of his best work.”

Glover’s exploration goes well beyond the popular Rule of Thirds and Golden Ratio — Glover teaches concepts such as Dynamic Symmetry, Root Rectangles, Major Area Divisions, and more. Last year, Glover shared a guest post discussing “10 Myths About the Rule of Thirds.”

These lesser-known rules of composition are the subjects of much debate, but the idea isn’t that Cartier-Bresson had these grids, lines, and rules in his mind when he shot his photos, but rather that these aesthetic concepts may be possible explanations to why he selected those photos out of many and why we now consider them to be masterful, beautiful compositions.

Here are a handful of the examples explored by Glover showing how Cartier-Bresson’s composition prowess can be explained by a “1.5 Rectangle Basic Armature”:

Watch the two videos above for a closer look at these and more photos with explanations by Glover.

(via Tavis Leaf Glover via ISO 1200)

Image credits: All photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos, and grid lines by Tavis Leaf Glover