Henri Cartier-Bresson

a Bill Brandt interview

By | photography

I looked up this old tape I had with a Bill Brandt interview. The sound had deteriorated some, but then he did not talk much. Bill Brandt, then already an old man, was not just a gentleman, but a gentle man. Soft-spoken, almost shy, he looked at his own photographs as if he had not seen them for a long time, reliving the moments of their taking, but without sentimentality. Looking at each picture for a long time he remembers the circumstances, the light mainly. Composition: that’s how it was, what it looked like – almost an excuse. “Decisive moment?” – there is a naughty boyish smile on his face – “sounds like Cartier-Bresson”, he says, “no, I don’t believe in that.” Several times he remarked that his nudes were his favorite photographs, but at the time nobody liked them. He was fascinated by playing with perspective, such as including the ceilings of rooms and the optical deformation of parts of the female body done with a special camera with a wide-angle lens. He tried color, but did not like it. When the portraits come by, he is surprised by the remark that almost every person is placed very excentrical: “O, really, I hadn’t noticed that” and starts checking. A very modest man indeed.