Henri Cartier-Bresson by Sam Tata, 1949

Henri Cartier-Bresson by Sam Tata, 1949

This photograph was taken in 1949 by Sam Tata. The photo shows Henri Cartier-Bresson seated, a determined hand on his Leica (IIIc with Summitar 2/5cm). The dark background and gentle light from the side particularly bring out Cartier-Bresson’s face, his shirt and tie and of course the camera.

Sam Bejan Tata was born in Shanghai in 1911. He discovered his love for photography while studying economics in Hong Kong, and it deepened when he became a co-founder of the Shanghai Camera Club. Inspired by Oscar Seepol, he dedicated himself early on to portrait photography. The work of his friend Alex Buchmann also left a lasting impression on him, motivating Tata to buy his first Leica, which soon became his constant companion.

The most important influence on Tata’s oeuvre, however, surely goes back to an encounter in 1947 which laid the foundation for a life-long friendship – meeting Henri Cartier-Bresson at an exhibition in Bombay. The creative exchange between the two men is also reflected by their works. Together, they documented the progress made by the Indian independence movement, among other projects.