Module 10: Kertesz and Cartier-Bresson versus Smith and Salgado

Compare the work of Andre Kertesz and Henri Cartier-Bresson versus the work of Eugene Smith and Sebastião Salgado. They are four photojournalists with different approaches.

– What are the main differences and similarities?  

– What’s the better journalistic approach?

  1. Andre Kertesz

Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1894, Andre Kertesz worked as a clerk at the Budapest stock exchange in 1912 when he bought his first camera. Two years later, he was sent off to World War I, when he was 20 years old and picture that miserable and hard life and shared with the world.

It was in 1925 when he moved to Paris because of a lack of opportunities and started to work as a freelance photographer. (Albers, P. 2015) Kertesz is known for his the visual lyricism and humanism that characterized his practice. His camera angles are different, with height and depth. His photos are mostly in an urban scenario.

“I always had a small camera with me on the front line, where I made candid, informal photographs, unlike the official photographers for the War Department.” (Andre Kertesz) (Course Notes Module 9).

  1. Henri Cartier- Bresson
  • Henri Cartier- Bresson was born on August 22nd in Chanteloup, Seine-et-Marne. In 1931 he saw a photograph by Martin Munkácsi in the arts magazine Arts et Métiers Graphiques and decides to focus on photography.
  • He took a series of photographic portraits of writers and artists in 1944 for Editions Braun (Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Pierre Bonnard, Paul Claudel, Georges Rouault).
  • In 1947 he held a photo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Creates the cooperative agency Magnum Photos with Robert Capa, David Seymour (Chim), William Vandivert, and George Rodger. From 1948 to 1950, he spent three years in the Far East: in India for the death of Gandhi, in China for the last six months of the Kuomintang and the first six months of the People’s Republic, and in Indonesia for its independence. His photographs are published all over the world.
  • In 1954 he is the first photographer allowed in the USSR since the beginning of the Cold War.
  • Later he travelled to China, Mexico, India, France, the USA and USSR from 1955 to 1973.
  • In 1974 he decided to focus again on drawing and resigned from Magnum Photos. (HCB foundation )


Similarities with Andre Kertesz:

They both believed that clicking the decisive moment is important. They did not care about the technical aspects of photography. They both did not think of photography as a away of reporting things.

(Lessons W Eugene Smith taught me about photography, 2013)

The Decisive Moment: “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression” (Salgado, 1990, p.147).


  1. Eugene Smith
  • American photojournalist
  • Worked extensively and popularised photo essay
  • He was a humanitarian photographer
  • He wanted his photographs to convey an emotional resonance with his viewers.
  • He also wanted to change people’s view about war. He was ready to risk his life for clicking a photograph if people would realise the negative side of war and stop wars in the futur
  • His largest photo essay is of 1975 Minamata village in Japan. The entire fishing villages faced huge troubles due to mercury dumping be a chemical company.(Howard Greenberg Gallery, 2018)
  • Some think that Eugene Smith was very hard on himself and sacrificed his health to concentrate on his career. He said that photography is everything for him and rest of the things do not matter that much. This lead to him passing away at the early age of 59 due to a heart stroke. He left behind $18 in his bank account and tonnes of photographs which continue to inspire photographers to this day. (W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, 2004-2017)
  1. Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastiao Salgado was born on February 8, 1944, in Aimorés, Brazil. A region with no access to a good education, which made him travel about 180 kilometres until Vitoria, for schooling. Today he is an award-winning photographer known by his arresting documentation of communities around the world.

Salgado has earned fame for his stark photos of people coping with the effects of poverty, famine, industrialization and political oppression. He has received numerous awards for his photojournalism and has twice been named Photographer of the Year by the International Center of Photography. He and his wife founded the photographic agency, Amazonas Images and co-founded the environmental education centre, Institutio Terra that works on the restoration of Brazilian rainforests.

– What’s the better journalistic approach?

It is true that every photographer has his own journey and all of them are inspiring, creative and good examples of photojournalism photographers. They helped to tell the true story and they did it very well. Despite all that, I think that Andre Kertesz and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s way of working is better. They follow the code of ethics in journalism, and their pictures are exactly what the real moment was, without any manipulation.


  1. Albers, P. (2015, March 27). André Kertész. Retrieved April 1, 2018, from
  2. BIOGRAPHY (2014, April 02). Sebastiao Salgado. Retrieved April 03, 2018, fromão-salgado-40046\
  3. Course Notes Module 10. “Presenting the moment: Eugene Smith and Sebastiao Salgado” (2018).
  4. Course Notes Module 9. “Capturing the moment: Kertesz and Cartier-Bresson” (2018).
  5. Getty Museum. (n.d.). André Kertész. Retrieved April 1, 2018, from
  6. HCB foundation . (n.d.). Biography. Retrieved from henricartierbresson HCB foundation :
  7. Howard Greenberg Gallery. (2018). W Eugene Smith. Retrieved from Howard Greenberg Gallery:
  8. Kim. E. (2015, March 02). 5 Lessons Sebastião Salgado Has Taught Me About Street Photography Retrieved April 1, 2018, from
  9. Lessons W Eugene Smith taught me about photography. (2013, May 13). Retrieved from Eric Kim Photography:
  10. Magnum Photos. (2014). Henri Cartier- Bresson: Portfolio. Retrieved from Magnum Photos:
  11. Magnum Photos. (2014). Portfolio- Japan.1971.Minamata vs. the Chisso Corporation W. Eugene Smith. Retrieved from Magnum Photos :
  12. Salgado, S. (1990). In Galeano E. H., Ritchin F. and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (Eds.), An uncertain grace. New York, N.Y.: Aperture Foundation.
  13. The Art of Photography. (2015, May 14). Sebastião Salgado Photographer (Brazilian). Retrieved April 1, 2018, from
  14. W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund. (2004-2017). W. Eugene Smith legacy. Retrieved from W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund: