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One step beyond the decisive moment

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on November 17, 2010

Le Boulingrin, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
I was looking at this image recently, and I went along thinking about the decisive moment, the concept elaborated by Henri-Cartier Bresson, a pioneer in the history of photography, one of the greatest photographer of our time.
This notion is embedded with a number of interesting nuances. The first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that there is a very fine line between the decisive moment and what I would call the expected moment. If one stand on a street corner with a well composed visual background and wait for an interesting silhouette, perfectly profiled to fit a predetermined space, does this stand for a decisive moment, or does it become more of a expected moment?
The idea of the decisive moment has been explored long and large, and could be ready to morph into higher grounds. For the sake of clarity, how can we describe a more precise notion of the decisive moment, while remaining faithful to the initial principle that something can never happen twice in the exact same way? How about the unexpected moment? Something that would distinguish planned imagery disguised as being something related to the decisive moment. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, what’s unclear is tagging a concept for something else, stretching the definition just a bit too far to remain true to the principle.
So, from now on, let’s reach for this ever elusive unexpected moment, just like this great image that went so  fast in front of my eyes, and that I missed last weekend…
Adios all!

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