‘Just be receptive and it happens’ (Cartier-Bresson – 2001)
In attempting to understand or define the essence of ‘The decisive moment’ I initially got lost in my own literal translation of the term. This greatly limited both my appreciation and understanding of the potential involved in exploring this concept.
It was watching the movie ‘L’amour tout Court’ that helped me to view this form of photography in a more investigative way. The quote from Henri above became my mantra as I hit the streets of Brixton.
The architecture in Brixton offers some diverse contexts in framing the human element. My final shot was just randomly taken because I like the way the light affects the structure of these arches. I took a few shots here, but this was the only one including people. I like the way the arches have framed the two adults and two children. The similarity between the two halves of the shots is also satisfying. There is a feeling of determination in the step of the two children and the two adults on the left of the image – this is only broken by the one adult turning to his child. This communication within the scene captures a single moment for me.
So in attempting to ‘be receptive and see what happens’ have I addressed and understood the philosophy behind The Decisive Moment?
I think it is worth examining the relevance of this philosophy with today’s photography. Zouhair Ghazzal suggests that despite the substance and endurance of the work of Cartier Bresson, the Decisive moment has become to some extent a cliché. Zouhair discusses the anecdotal element conveyed through Cartier Bresson’s wotk through the gestures and interplay of his subject matter.
‘An image does not narrate: it rather creates an unbridgeable abyss between itself-as-frame and the rest of the unframed world—comparable to Sartre’s “existential hole,” which is only conscious of the absurdity of its own existence, or, more commonly, to a one-night-stand, as something that is given, but with no connection to anything else—in time and space, which pushes a hapless and confused imagination for a narrative. In sum, in that endless time-space flux, the decisive moment operates an all too sudden cut that is the most meaningful of all.’ (2004 zouhair ghazzal)
For me there should be an element of anecdote communicated through the image. But the art in the image should leave many levels of interpretation to the viewer.