The Decisive Moment… of Life

One of my favorite things about photography is also one of my most favorite things about life: the decisive moment. I’m talking about the decisive moments found frozen in time through photography and the decisive moments from my life frozen only in memory. If you’ve ever taken a photography class, you’ve probably covered the decisive moment. The idea came from Henri Cartier-Bresson who developed a keen sense for anticipating the decisive moment so that he could capture it with his camera. The idea is that the perfect picture happens in just a fraction of a second and as a photographer, your job is to capture that moment and freeze it in time. You wait for all the elements of the picture to come together to create this greater story and when it’s gone, it’s gone. I’m sure we’ve all had those times where we “missed the shot.” You know, those times where a unique pose can’t be replicated. Or the times when the sun hits your subject at just the right angle but suddenly disappears. Or when that kid in the background makes that silly face that only enhances the photo you’re taking. Sometimes we capture these beautiful moments of time accidentally, but usually we try to get it right on purpose.

Ok, so we went over the decisive moment as applied to photography. How does it work in life? The exact same way. A connection is made between you and someone else and in that moment of time everything is perfect and beautiful. These are the moments I live for. These are the moments we all live for. These are the moments that we usually label as “you had to be there” or “that’ll never happen ever again” or “that just happened.” In your head, you can replay the event but that’s the only time you can ever relive such an experience because that time is already in the past.

A photographer friend once mentioned that “there are no pictures when I’m not taking any.” If you don’t have your camera at the ready, you won’t be able to capture a decisive moment even if it came and flashed you in the face. And if you don’t mind that, then that’s ok. Just the same, if you don’t open yourselves to the decisive moments in life, they simply won’t happen. Put yourself in a position to maximize such events from happening. And when they happen, appreciate it. Accept that “you had to be there” and that you were there. Feel blessed. Feel special because that moment happened and you were a part of it.

I’ve always known that I loved that aspect of life. Only recently have I made the connection between that and the decisive moment of photography. I hope I’ve sparked a decisive moment in your life and I hope that you get to appreciate those fleeting moments all the more.

These particular photos were from my vacation to NYC a few years ago. Got a killer shot? Share it in the comments down below!

-Ian.

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