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A Frenchman in New York: Cartier-Bresson's American Adventure

Ah, mes amis, New York! Quelle ville incroyable! The energy here, it's like a jazz symphony, always in movement. I have come from Paris to visit our Magnum branch, and now, I find myself with a bit of time to explore this grand cité.

I take my Leica and wander through the streets. Ah, the skyscrapers! They reach for the heavens like the spires of Notre-Dame, but in steel and glass. I find myself in Times Square, a place so full of lumière and chaos. I capture a moment where a young couple is lost in each other amidst the billboards and the bustling crowd. C'est magnifique!

But is New York different from Paris for taking photos? Oui et non. Paris has its own charm, its old-world beauty, its intimate cafés. New York, on the other hand, is grandiose, expansive, always in a hurry. In Paris, people are more reserved; they give you a suspicious glance if you aim your camera at them. Here in New York, people either don't notice or they pose! Ah, les Américains!

Do I miss my croissants and French café? Bien sûr! The coffee here is, comment dire, a bit too rushed for my taste. It lacks the leisurely pleasure of a Parisian café where one can sit and contemplate life. And the croissants, ah, let's not even talk about it. They try, but it's not the same.

And my wife, Martine? Oui, I miss her deeply. She is the quiet sanctuary in my often chaotic world. But she understands, this is a voyage of discovery, both for me and for the art of photography.

Let me share with you some moments that have truly touched my soul here in New York. I found myself in Central Park, this oasis amidst the concrete jungle. There, I captured a scene of children sailing miniature boats on the pond, their faces filled with pure joie de vivre, so reminiscent of the Luxembourg Gardens back in Paris. Another image I am particularly fond of is one I took in the subway.

A woman, lost in her thoughts, framed by the closing doors of the train—un moment décisif, indeed! And then, there's a photograph of an elderly man in Little Italy, his face etched with the lines of a hard life but his eyes still twinkling with malice and wisdom. These images, they encapsulate the essence of New York for me—diverse, vibrant, and full of contrasts. Ah, I am quite pleased with these captures, they speak to the universality of human experience, transcending the boundaries of Paris and New York.

How does New York make me feel? It's a mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion. The city is like a grand theatre where everyone is both an actor and an audience. It's inspiring but also a bit overwhelming. Yet, every time I capture a decisive moment, I feel that same joie, that same thrill that photography always gives me, whether I'm in Paris, New York, or any part of this vast monde.

Disclaimer: While this article aims to capture the spirit of Henri Cartier-Bresson's approach to photography and life, it's important to note that these words are not his own but are inspired by his philosophy and methods.

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