Posts Tagged ‘decisivemoment’
We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory.
– Henri Cartier-Bresson
We exist on a treadmill of forgetting and anticipating. We labor to preserve what we treasure of our past, even while the present shotguns us with a thousand new options, one of which must become our future. One of which we must choose.
In this maelstrom of time it is hard to be calm; to understand what warrants attention, and what can be ignored. This state of tranquility and presence has been the essence of the modern photographic act, best characterized in the popular mind by Cartier-Bresson’s concept of the “Decisive Moment.”
Photography is not like painting. 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. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever. [#]
The phrase was taken from a quote by the 17th century Cardinal de Retz, who stated, “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.”
If you go to Google Street View and type in “rue de londres, paris“, you can visit the location where photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson captured his famous street photograph Behind the Gare St. Lazare in 1932. It’s an ordinary location that became an iconic photograph through Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” style of photography. Cartier-Bresson notes,
There was a plank fence around some repairs behind the Gare Saint Lazare train station. I happened to be peeking through a gap in the fence with my camera at the moment the man jumped. The space between the planks was not entirely wide enough for my lens, which is the reason why the picture is cut off on the left.
If you know of any other iconic photo locations that can be revisited through Google Street View, leave a comment!
Behind the Gare St. Lazare is one of French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson‘s best known photographs, and is frequently cited as an example of his “decisive moment” approach to photography. The photograph was made in 1932, but the oldest known print is dated 1946. That print will be sold at a Christie’s auction on November 11th along with 100 other signed prints, and is expected to fetch up to ~$250,000.