Photographed on the steps of Government House in Delhi by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1948 are, Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma; Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India; and Edwina Cynthia Annette, Countess Mountbatten.
Like most of us, I imagine, we appreciate a good news photograph that captures something of the situation of the people included in the photo. This is so in this photo. Widely acknowledged that Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten had a very close friendship, even speculated having an affair. It’s a very good photo from a master of photography, Cartier-Bresson, a believer in capturing the ‘decisive moment‘.
Here’s a photo that you may not know. The photograph is ‘Leap of Faith’ by J A Hampton on a rainy day in Hyde Park in 1939. It’s reviewed in detail by Ashleigh Mahoney in Camera Historica.
The photograph captures the tension of the moment when a pedestrian attempts to jump over a large puddle. It has all of the will he, or won’t he succeed. As as it’s a still photo, the viewer is left wondering about the outcome. I particularly like the movement of the man’s raincoat, and that you can’t see he face.
It’s a striking image that follows Henri Cartier-Bresson’s philosophy, in which he aimed to capture the immediacy of the moment, which he called The Decisive Moment. Cartier-Bresson was the pioneer of street photography, now recogonsied as photo-journalism. Some years earlier, in 1932, Cartier-Bresson captured a similar image of a man jumping over a puddle in his famous photo Behind the Gare St Lazare.
I much prefer J A Hampton’s version for it’s sharpness, dramatic movement, and composition. You decide which you prefer. J A Hampton’s photo is on the left [click to enlarge], while Cartier-Bresson’s is on the right [again click to enlarge].