In a 1971 interview, Cartier-Bresson said: “Freedom for me is a strict frame, and inside that frame are all the variations possible. Maybe I’m classical. The French are like that. Photography as I conceive it, well, it’s a drawing — immediate sketch done with intuition and you can’t correct it. If you have to correct it, it’s the next picture. But life is very fluid. Well, sometimes the pictures disappear and there’s nothing you can do. You can’t tell the person, `Oh, please smile again. Do that gesture again.’ Life is once, forever.”
Liebling, the most convivial of men, was likewise a depressive. Cartier-Bresson captures some of the writer’s human complexity. One of the few indisputably great photographers, confrère to Walker Evans, Cartier-Bresson died on this date, Aug. 3, in 2004, at age ninety-five.