Reportage, in latin: reportāre where portare means to carry/transport and re- is back, in other words, bring back, bring home, bring the story back home.

The reference to Cartier-Bresson for reportage seems to me slightly misplaced. His style was quick, fast, strict, visually and organizationally, mathematically if you wish, focussed, not in search for a “story” necessarily :

The idea of making a photographic reportage , that is to say , of telling a story in a sequence of pictures , never entered my head at that time . I began to understand more about it later , as a result of looking at the work of my colleagues and at the illustrated magazines . In fact , it was only in the process of working for them that I eventually learned , bit by bit , how to make a reportage with a camera , how to make a picture.

Although he used the word picture-story indeed, this does not seem to be the same as a story, told with pictures, a reportage. With Cartier-Bresson the story was an open interpretation to an image (by the viewer), for a reportage, the photographer tries to tell a (personal) story on an event or situation using photographs as narrative.

The truth was otherwise, for Cartier-Bresson had little feel for storytelling and never excelled at composing photo essays or catching historic moments; in fact, one of his maxims is “The anecdote is the enemy of photography.”(Hofstadter, 2015)


This is a different starting point and probably with a different intention, actually, they seem opposites: A photograph insinuating a story versus A story represented with photographs. In the end, Cartier-Bresson used both, but as concept Decisive Moment it seems a bit off, for sure there are better examples of Reportage work than this and far better stories told then Cartier-Bresson, just name a few: Walker Evans, Sebastiao Salgado, Werner Bischof etc. They all had the intention, with long-term commitment and personal involvement to tell a complete, wide and deep story, opposite a decisive moment. It is not said, a single image cannot visualise a story.


Bibliography/Reference list

HENRI CARTIER BRESSON – The Decisive Moment 1973_2007 (2016). HENRI CARTIER BRESSON – The Decisive Moment 1973_2007. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].

Henri Cartier-Bresson and Clément Chéroux (2014). The decisive moment. Göttingen: Steidl.

Hofstadter, D. (2015). Temperaments: Memoirs of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Other Artists. Open Road Distribution.