Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Master of Moments: Henri Cartier-Bresson

From the rather wonderful Faded + Blurred

The decisive moment. If you have studied photography even in the slightest bit, you will likely have heard that saying. Just about every hobbyist and professional knows that you always need to be on the lookout for the precise second when you know you should press the shutter. It has become a philosophy, particularly of street photographers; an idiom to live by. What’s ironic is the man to whom that saying is credited to didn’t actually like it. The phrase, “The Decisive Moment”, came from Henri Cartier-Bresson’s book, Images à la Sauvette, which, when published in America was renamed. The actual translation means “Pictures on the Run”. Cartier-Bresson, while known for his spontaneous shooting style, didn’t particularly care for the saying because he thought it was used to pigeonhole him. He just did what he did, and although he would agree that there is a certain decisive moment, he did not want that to define who he was. He said, “Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”….READ MORE

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