A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


The Decisive Moment
Monday, July 24, 2006

Every few years the folks at a local art institute have a brilliant idea. They put forward the scheme that they can save lots of money by assigning photography students to take the photographs for the school's brochure and or web page. So students go into a life drawing class and the smell of paint inspires them as does the texture of the charcoal drawings or the oils. But when these photographs reduce the three dimensions into two, they don't look so exciting and, worst of all, you cannot smell the paint. So for some rare ocasions commercial photographers are hired (I was, twice) to take the photographs.

There is a reason why so many of the photographs are disappointing. It has to do with waiting for Henri Cartier-Bresson's decisive moment. Cartier-Bresson had all the time in the world when he sat in Paris cafes with his black-taped Leica under the table ready for the moment. Students have less patience and things just don't happen.

As an example, when I saw this zaguán (passageway)in Mexico City many years ago I was intrigued. So I ran in, rang the bell and ran out and waited.

Sometimes decisive moments are created.


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