Cartier-Bresson: photographic composition and structure (i)

Two of the things we learn from Cartier-Bresson are first, the importance of the structure of photo and second, that successful structure is fundamentally very simple.

This photo, entitled Orosei was taken while he was in Sardinia in 1962. It is an excellent example of the effectiveness of simple structure.


Structurally, the photograph is quite similar to the picture of the young boy with the bottle of wine.

HCB boy with wine

The focal point and subject of both photographs, the oxen and the cart in the first, and the small boy in the second, is placed at the bottom of a plain and mostly un-detailed strip of light. The positioning of the subjects in this way at once both isolates and integrates them in the scene that Cartier-Bresson has captured.

It’s a brilliant technique and all the more brilliant for its simplicity.

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