Behind the Gare St.Lazare 1932
hands: george f`evre, 5.11.87
Photo and Words By John Loengard
Actually, I asked Henri Cartier-Bresson to let me photograph another negative showing two prostitutes in Mexico City. They lean through openings in their crib doors. The print is often published. “Oh, no! No! No! Think of their feelings! They might be grandmothers now. No, no! You can’t publish that,” he replied with intensity that surprised me. Instead, he let me photograph the negative to his most famous photograph. It shows a man leaping into a puddle in Paris. George Fèvre, who prints many of Cartier-Bresson’s pictures, put it out on the light table.
In The Decisive Moment Cartier-Bresson described taking it, “There was a plank fence around some repairs behind Gare St. Lazare. I was peeking through the spaces with my camera at my eye. This is what I saw. The space between the planks was not entirely wide enough for my lens, which is the reason the picture is cut off on the left.”
For safekeeping, the negative was cut from a strip of 35mm film at the start of World War II. Sprocket holes are missing on one side. Possibly the film was manufactured without them—or possibly someone has cut them off. Asked about this, Cartier-Bresson replies, “I swallowed them.”