“the decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organisation of forms which gives that event its proper expression” – Henri Cartier Bresson
Allusions of grandeur, a coverall for luck or something deeper?
Something deeper I think. Back in Bresson’s day photographers were arguably far more technical than they are today and would probably shot a lot less than we do now, bearing in mind the length of 35mm film rarely exceeded 36 exposures. So every frame was precious, and expensive and probably more considered before the shutter button was finally pressed. Essentially Bresson in my opinion was talking about the need to be ready for those decisive moments in life, being technically ready for what the universe brings.
Be prepared is also the motto of the Scouts, in fact there any number of quotes, phrases and anachronisms relating to being prepared. Being prepared is important, but its more an just a technical thing, it’s a mental thing too.
I take some photographs without really knowing what I am going to capture, either, visually or how it will technically turn out completely. I can only plan and ready so much. Sometimes it works well, most of the time it doesn’t. But without shooting it I wont know how it will turn out either way, I can technically give myself the best chance to capture the image but unless I press that button it’s I have no chance of getting a good image. It’s a numbers game the more I shoot the better odds I will have of capturing what I want, not to say I don’t try to capture that every time my finger hits the button. But with the lack of cost inhibiting experimentation I shoot a lot more than I ever did with film. No longer am I restricted by the 36 exposures on the roll of film, but I am still trying to capture that decisive moment I know just get a lot more chances of doing it.
I said so someone the other day “the camera takes the pictures I just hold it.” It’s the holding the camerathat is the important bit, whether it by an iPhone of a Canon 5d, without the camera you’ve got nothing, just missed opportunities.
What has this all to do with Bresson’s “decisive moment” you may be wondering? Well quite frankly, you have to be in it to win it!