Henri Cartier-Bresson with his decisive moment concept has given one rule for street photography that has defined the aesthetic of street images for many photographers over the years. As many photo lovers and photographers I fell in love with photography because of him and I still consider him as one of the masters (The Master?) of contemporary photography. The decisive moment as he described it is the time where ‘everything is summed up in the supreme moment when form briefly takes on its essential meaning’.
A good image has to be a straight and honest photograph where timing, form and content come together to reach perfection.
While the idea influenced many photographers, others, such as Paul Graham or William Eggleston have also totally rejected it. Today, particularly in America, it seems that the trend is to focus more on the forms of urban landscapes and the city itself and forget about the idea of a unique decisive moment. The idea that the photographer had to capture the perfect detail of urban life has somehow been replaced by the idea that a good photograph, and even street photograph can be accidental and any moment can create a good photograph. It can just be a random, banal, spontaneous snapshot that reveals the movement and chaos of modern urban life.
But I guess both concepts are in fact not far away from each other. The decisive moment might not be unique, but actually part of a series of decisive moments. However, what makes it unique is the fact that the photographer decided to press on the shutter at that particular moment – be it subconsciously, after waiting for it to happen, by accident, by luck, by instinct… Once the scene is captured on an image, it becomes that famous decisive moment image, right?
Anyway here is proof that the decisive moment still exists today and that as long as photography exists, photographers around the world will still be searching for that decisive moment that makes an image so unique and incredible, somehow magical…