Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Decisive Moment

"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 organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson Reinterprets his Career, by Claude Cookman

History of Photography, Spring 2008

Between 1952 and 1974, Henri Cartier-Bresson significantly revised his understanding of himself as a photojournalist. This article analyses that change and argues that what appears from a superficial reading of interviews and his book The Decisive Moment (1952) to be a rejection of photography and photojournalism was in fact Cartier-Bresson's first public expression of a long-simmering opposition to the consumer society - which he as an ecologist strongly opposed - and to fashion and advertising photography, which he believed promoted unnecessary consumption. It concludes that Cartier-Bresson reinterpreted his past by seeing himself as a surrealist to the denial of having done photojournalism. The article is predicated on the belief that understanding the change in Cartier-Bresson's own conception of his work is essential to a full understanding of it.

I am interested in a sort of new "decisive moment" in photography that moves beyond pure aesthetics. The best expression I have come to for the imagery I would like to work towards is that it is capturing (or in my case creating) the decisive moment when the mundane is suddenly presented with the possibility of transformation into something more; whether it be the external transformation of a run-down alley way into a secret garden utopia, or something that moves internally within the subject.

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