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Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Decisive Moment & Playing Golf

"Beruntung" ("Lucky") by Solahuddin of Jawa Pos

A person has asked, and probably many have, about how can you capture that decisive moment. Is it just a matter of luck? Or is it a skill that you can develop?

Although not all Henri Cartier-Bresson's photos capture that decisive moment, many do. Is it because of his long time experience? Or is he just a lucky guy?

Here's a short caption from Henri Cartier-Bresson’s book “The Decisive Moment” (1952). The decisive moment suggests a sense of perfect shutter timing to freeze action at its balanced composition. He wrote:
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression… Inside movement, there is one moment at which the elements in motion are in balance. Photography must seize upon this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it.”
For Cartier-Bresson, a photograph must not only freeze an instant of time, but it must also capture that instant within a well designed composition (Kobre, Kenneth. 2004. Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach. 5th ed. Oxford: Focal Press, p. 19.)

I see photographers getting that perfect decisive moment image as in sports. Golfers for example. There are lots of factors in getting that small ball into a small hole hundreds of yards away. There might be a "luck" factor in it, but I think mostly there are the experience and instuition factors. The experienced golfer has the feeling and intuition in how hard to hit the ball, which angle or direction to hit it against the wind, etc., etc. I'm not a golfer, but I think capturing that perfect and memorable decisive moment image is like getting a hole-in-one. Amateurs get lucky sometimes, but the maestros get "lucky" many times. So, actually it's not about being lucky but about practicing with effort in developing your intuition or instincts to be sharpened over time, having all your senses be open to your surroundings, and knowing what you want or what your goals are. There is just no shortcut for it, in sports or in photography, but through full-hearted practice, and time.