The Decisive Moment

The “decisive moment” is a concept introduced by Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of street photography. As Cartier-Bresson explains it the decisive moment “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 is a proper expression.”

For me the image above captures the decisive moment of a homeless man in a wheel chair with his own decisive moment of determining whether it is safe to cross K Street in downtown Sacramento. Needless to say, the white “Safe-to-walk” sign above his head doesn’t apply. He is handicapped further by those red numbers that tick down the walking time that he has left to cross the street. Something so simple as crossing the street is an additional burden for the homeless man. And today, it will reach 105 degrees.

The decisive moment is fleeting, i.e., once you miss that half of a second to capture an image, it is gone forever. You can never recreate the same circumstances in terms of locations and people. Here are some of my recent decisive moment images.

Photos and text by Gale Filter

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