Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Decisive Moment

I love looking through other people's photography. I like to see the moments they captured and sometimes I know why they were important to them and other times it's fun to also not know and think of the story that goes with the shot. All the images I see are incredible, an inspiration. I have to think that the photographer was shooting for hours or over the course of days to get that particular shot.

So, a very cool thing about the photography class I am taking, is that we get to learn about some very famous and talented photographers and their stories. The class instructors are very big fans of Henri Cartier-Bresson and already in the two weeks I've been, we've seen a lot of his work. One of the biggest contributions he has to the world of photography was the "decisive moment" concept.

"Photography is not like painting," Henri Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. "There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative," he said.

Our assignment for tonight was to capture an image that fell under this notion. I completely agonized over this because in my opinion, almost everything could be labeled as a decisive moment. Any picture I have ever seen, for that matter, embodies this idea that it is the perfect moment. Whether it's a picture of your children, your friends, a favorite meal, a trip, etc. Why else would someone have taken a picture?

Granted, I understand that this moment also has to be something that can not be copied. Of course, you can copy it but the feeling isn't going to be there. Sure, you can set your kids up for a family picture and it comes out all pretty. But isn't it even a more fun shot if one of the kids has their tongue stinking out? Or better yet, someone in the picture has their shoes on the wrong feet? I'm speaking from experience here.

This is a good link highlighting some of Cartier-Bresson's work with a video slide of some of his images. Scott and Antonio, you should definitely check it out, I'm sure it would be of interest to you.

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