Henri Cartier-Bresson had a famous habit of turning photographs upside-down and sideways to test the strength of their composition. If a picture still worked upside-down, there must be some validity to its design. If an upside-down picture doesn’t work, then it must be relying too much on its subject-matter. It would just be a record of something and not a made work of art.
“He always turned them all around and upside-down. It became like a sort of dance. Strangely, he didn’t want to look at the picture.” – René Burri
Let’s put his own images to the test and see if they pass.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Behind the Gare St Lazare, Paris, 1932
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Hyéres, France, 1932
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Children Playing in the Ruins, Seville, 1933
They did pass, didn’t they?