The Decisive Moment
Ever since Henri Cartier-Bresson put down his paintbrush in favor of a camera, photographers have searched for peak moments in their work, whether they are a photojournalist, landscape shooter or wedding photographer. The renowned French photographer, best known for Paris street photography from the 1930s to the 1960s, is considered the father of photojournalism and the idea of the Decisive Moment.
Cartier-Bresson composes his images with the subject and their surroundings in mind while searching for that exact moment that gives the photograph meaning. Cartier-Bresson was more interested in “seeing” what happened and capturing that on film than an idealized pretty image that held no meaning.
Photojournalists “see” what is happening. Seeing is more than looking at something. Seeing is intelligent observation of the events in which you find yourself. It’s one thing to get peak action at a sporting event. But to capture it in relation to the space in which it happens adds another dimension to the photo. It helps describe what is happening. It tells a story. When honing our skills at newspapers, Eric and I walked into the communities we covered with these ideas in our heads.
Now we document weddings. Weddings are a visual gold mine for photojournalists because, by design, they bring people together. Our role is to observe those people and document how their relationships unfold. So we wait and observe. Much of what we do as photojournalists is waiting. Finding that Decisive Moment is as much about what is not happening as what is. We position ourselves in a way that will best frame our subject and we look for the change in action. There is usually a sudden flurry of activity and we step into action ourselves and press the shutter. We are visual storytellers. We seek a deeper meaning in the weddings we photograph and translate our vision into beautiful and meaningful photos.