With the development of modern technology, the concept of the ‘decisive moment’ of the master Henri Cartier-Bresson has changed.
Despite I still believe in taking my photographs in single exposures, the modern cameras can offer high rate multiple exposures that can enable capturing your dynamic street subject that has never been done before. This, in turn, can undermine the challenges of the concept that was coined by the master Cartier-Bresson. But does it?
Despite the technical advances, the challenge of ‘decisive moment’ has not disappeared. The high rate multiple exposer and almost instantaneous focusing have not waivered the challenges. On the streets, you must still be prepared and have the eye for your subject. The streets of today’s big cities are too sophisticated and complex to find your moving subject. However, with extensive experience - which cannot be totally replaced by technolgy, one can gain the talent of spotting a single frame, even in the most crowded streets such as Oxford Street in London. And that is the distinguishing factor between an experience street photographer and others.
As the streets becoming more crowded, sophisticated, chaotic, colorful, beautiful, shiny, ugly, fast and confusing, photographers would find it more challenging to spot their compositions. Cartier-Bresson, once, composed his frame and waited for a bicycle to be in the right place in his frame. Then, he captured his famous photograph that is known to most of us today. Taking a photograph to be a famous one is not simple any more.
In the photograph shown, it is not only the intimate position of the couple, makes the photograph to be taking in the ‘decisive moment’; it is also a number of related-events that makes this moment to be decisive, such as the male passer-by who is watching them; the lady passer-by who turns to see them; and, also the shop owner in the back, who is interested.
Thus, the question is, which ‘moment’ is ‘decisive’. It is the same frame, but it has several events that are harmonised – unlike Cartier-Bresson bicycle which is only one event. They all together make the photograph to be taken in the ‘decisive moment’. Seconds before or after that I pressed the shatter, there would have been no ‘decisive moment’. That is the challenge of today’s street photography. We have to adapt to the contemporary dynamic streets to recognise a ‘decisive moment’ that is a combination of a high number of events that can all work together.