In 1947, Henri Cartier-Bresson strolled into William Faulkner’s garden at Oxford, Mississippi and snapped the picture of the author. That one line can easily summarize the picture, but the effortless image, however, wants to say more. William Faulkner’s left hand was clutching his extended right arm. Behind are Faulkner’s two dogs, one of them stretching in the opposite direction–it was the decisive moment.
As Frank Van Riper noted in HCB’s Washington Post obituary, “Cartier-Bresson made the picture just as one of the terriers stretched, creating an incredible visual tension between the author’s outstretched arm and, at exactly the same angle, the outstretched terrier. The picture works wonderfully because of it.”