Landscape Townscape

Landscape Townscape

Rating: 4/4 (Must see book!)

Landscape Townscape is a coffee table book of 105 photos captured by Henri Cartier Bresson. Most of the photos were taken during 1940-1970s in Europe, USA, Japan, SE Asia and India. All the photos are in B&W, which is Henri’s defacto medium. A majority of the photos seem to be taken with a wideangle lens, especially the landscape ones.

I have seen many of Henri’s famous photos and know a bit about the man who essentially created photojournalism. But, this is the first proper compilation of his that I have got my hands on. The landscape photos all show a very keen eye for patterns and composition. In fact, every photo has so many composition elements captured beautifully right that it’s a joy to study each one. Long stark shadows evoking feelings of decay and sadness are a repeating feature in a lot of these photos. The landscape photos are mostly bare of humans, who are traditionally Henri’s popular subjects. But, people going about their everyday lives start to appear in the townscape photos. It’s a testament to Henri’s small camera (the legendary Leica he is known for) and quick eye-arm coordination to see photos where a certain moment has been captured. A moment (Henri calls it the decisive moment) so fleeting yet precious that one can only wonder how the hell Henri happened to be at precisely the right place at precisely the right time!

I highly recommend this book for all those interested in photography. The book is huge due to the large print of the photographs and is surely expensive. Just see if you can borrow it at your library. The book is full of some of Henri’s most seminal works. The grainy faces and images are sure to remain etched in your memory. Every Bresson photo is such a joy to look at and study and it is sure to influence your photography the next time you put your eye to the viewfinder.

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