Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare

with 18 comments

cartier-bresson-henri-iza-gare-st-lazare-paris-1932

He was arguably the last century’s greatest photographer, and the photograph above was to Time magazine, “The Photo of the Century”. While honored and remembered as the premier photojournalist, Henri Cartier-Bresson also gave the world the jewels of the street photography, most famous among which was this 1932 picture, Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare.

By then, photographs of puddle jumpers were clichés, but as New York Times remembered, “Cartier-Bresson brings to his image layer on layer of fresh and uncanny detail: the figure of a leaping dancer on a pair of posters on a wall behind the man mirrors him and his reflection in the water; the rippling circles made by the ladder echo circular bands of discarded metal debris; another poster, advertising a performer named Railowsky, puns with the railway station and the ladder, which, flat, resembles a railroad track.”

However, the picture that defined Cartier-Bresson’s career was ironically one of only two pictures he cropped. He detested the darkroom techniques and to prevent his editors from cropping, he sent his pictures with a black border — the frame he himself imposed at the instant he snapped the picture. However, behind the train station, he couldn’t managed to do this:

“There was a plank fence around some repairs behind the Gare Saint Lazare train station. I happened to be peeking through a gap in the fence with my camera at the moment the man jumped. The space between the planks was not entirely wide enough for my lens, which is the reason why the picture is cut off on the left,” he explained in his usual laconic manner.

Read H.C.-B.’s obituary by James Nachtwey here.

Gare

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

July 26, 2009 at 2:46 am

18 Responses

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  1. [...] Cartier-Bresson who abhorred darkroom manipulations – but whose iconic photo was ironically one of only two images he cropped – probably didn’t know the story behind Munkacsi’s photo. Not only how much the framing was [...]

  2. [...] event at a single time. There’s no decisive moment, no ‘punctum‘. It’s not a 30th of a second behind the Gare St-Lazare. It’s a messy collision of moments and locations glued together to make a sort of [...]

    Bowblog - Make my Pano now

    August 20, 2010 at 7:15 am

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  4. [...] Zitat von JeTexas …I only have trouble when I'm attempting to focus through a fence as I quickly realized that what I'm seeing through the viewfinder isn't exactly where the lens is pointed. That's the way HCB took one of his most famous pictures. Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare [...]

  5. [...] photos, sometimes even including the sprocket holes of the film. Ironically, one of the few images he did crop was one of his most famous – Place de l’ Europe, Gara Saint Lazare. He was known to carry a small Leica camera, [...]

  6. [...] recently paid at auction. For example, a photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson, a 1946 silver print of “Derrière la Gare Saint-Lazare,” Paris, 1932, sold at auction last year for a record price for the photographer of [...]

  7. Alexander Brailowsky was the greatest Chopin expert of the 20th C (many say). He would be about 36 years old in 1932. Was a naturalized French citizen born in Ukraine. The man is running, probably, to get his ticket for the concert. The ripples from the ladder are like arpeggios from Brailowsky’s fingers. You can hear Brailowsky recorded on Youtube, I believe. He’s worth getting your feet wet for! – Belated

    james raff

    May 20, 2012 at 11:51 pm

  8. [...] one of the most famous moments of implied movement is Cartier-Bresson’s Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare, 1932. There is very minimal motion blur but a clear sense of the figure moving across the frame. I [...]

  9. [...] Photo Credit  [...]

  10. [...] love to have the Bresson image ‘Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris’. It’s a moment caught perfectly in time and asks the question of whether he waited hours to [...]

  11. [...] It has always amused me that the staunchest advocates of the uncropped image have been those who have used cameras with some of the least accurate viewfinders. I was a great fan of range-finder cameras, owning and using a number of them over the years – Leica, Konica, Minolta etc, and none of them were particularly precise – and with some lenses spectacularly wrong. And of course even that great photographer and advocate of the full frame – to the extent of producing images including the sprocket holes where he had loaded the film incorrectly – cropped what is perhaps his most famous image. [...]

  12. […] recently paid at auction. For example, a photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson, a 1946 silver print of “Derrière la Gare Saint-Lazare,” Paris, 1932, sold at auction last year for a record price for the photographer of […]

  13. […] iconic Che Guevara photograph made in 1960 by Alberto Korda. Even Cartier-Bresson’s famous Behind the Gare St. Lazare, 1932 was a crop out of necessity. Then you have the iconic Napalm Girl by Phan Thi Kim Phúc made in the […]

  14. […] Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare […]

  15. […] iconic Che Guevara photograph made in 1960 by Alberto Korda. Even Cartier-Bresson’s famous Behind the Gare St. Lazare, 1932 was a crop out of necessity. Then you have the iconic Napalm Girl by Phan Thi Kim Phúc made in the […]

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    Brian

    April 25, 2014 at 5:07 am

  17. […] Derrière la gare Saint-Lazare, par Henri Cartier-Bresson […]


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