Originally from Hungary, Brassai moved to Paris in the 1920's. First, focused on writing, Brassai began taking his camera out to take photographs to accompany his articles. What makes Brassai quite a special photographer was his interest in photographing the streets and life of the Parisian nights.
Brassai's contribution to photography is immense. What this photographer did was more than just produce fine images. Brassai captured another world. He captured a world that most people did not get to witness then, and has since disappeared.
Brassai showed great dedication to his craft. Carrying along a large sized and heavy camera, Brassai's technique involved relatively long exposures on a tripod. In an age when people are used to the high ISO convenience of a DSLR and digital photography, as well as the convenience of having a camera in devices as portable as Apple's iphone, it is increasingly difficult to appreciate the amount of effort that Brassai must have been willing to put in to create his art.
Brassai's images are more than just a product of solid dedication. It is the result of a solid integration of photography into one's life. For so many of us, photography can at times feel like a pursuit of its own, creating a certain disconnect between the viewer and the subject. Brassai seemed to have been a part of his images. If the subject of his photos were influenced by his presence, it only seems to add to the atmosphere and the feel of the photos. This brings to mind the facial expressions of some of the couples photographed by Brassai. In relation to Cartier-Bresson's decisive moment theory, these particular Brassai images serve to make a strong case. Capturing such moments with today's high fps DSLRs can be challenging, never mind with the antiquated equipment Brassai was utilizing. Imagine the improvements the average photographer could see in his or herwork if they were to focus on honing these sorts of skills more so than buying the latest digital photography gear.
What needs to be appreciated about his work, is the passion behind creating Brassai's works of art. When this sort of passion meets solid technique, the result is stunning, and Brassai is proof of this. His work still stands apart, even today. Any photographer is lucky to have people still paying attention to his work, even as little as five or ten years after its creation. Brassai's work remains significant even today, and will likely be so in the foreseeable future. Quality photographs stand the test of time, not because of the photograph, but because of the content.
It is highly recommended that any photographer put his camera down for a few minutes and take a look at Brassai's work. Stop worrying about debates over Canon vs Nikon, full frame vs APS-C, and stop and think about why Brassai's work is so cherished. One can lose oneself in the mist of Brassai's landscapes, one can feel the emotion's on the faces of Brassai's subjects. There is a connection to the subject's happiness, sadness, joys, and struggles. Every photographer should be so fortunate as to bring this level of talent to there works. The work of greats like Brassai is one of the best photography schools one could every find.
For myself, Brassai's work is inspirational. As someone that has photographed on the nighttime streets of cities for many years now, I have always been drawn to the sense of mystery and elegance behind Brassai's photos. It is my deep hope that even a fraction of the moments that I capture at night will be able to stand the test of time in the way that Brassai's have.
Below is an excellent Youtube video regarding Brassai: