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Her Favorite Color – Lego Store – Bellevue Square Mall – Bellevue, WA

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer, who was active from the 1920s until the mid 1970s, and is considered the founding father of modern photojournalism. He is also respected as one the photographers that help define what is known today as street photography and not surprisingly he was an earlier adopter of the highly portable 35 mm format.

What he is best known for today is codifying and applying the concept of a decisive moment to photography. In the preface to his 1952 book of images titled, not surprisingly, The Decisive Moment he wrote about this idea. The central tenet is that a photographer has but a split second to capture an image and in that moment the entire scene is perceived, anticipated, composed, and captured.

On occasion I have had the joy of being in control of this moment and I can ensure you that it is spectacular feeling. You find yourself so engaged with the subject matter that you enter a place of complete calmness and the passage of time slows down.

This expansion of time allows you to notice that a young girl wearing a magenta sweater in a crowded toy store is moving deliberately, to understand her trajectory, and motivation for her haste. In that instant you have composed the shot in full fidelity. Simultaneously you bring the camera to eye, frame the scene, steady yourself like a sniper ready to make a kill, and at the apex of her reaching for the magenta blocks you fire the camera. A mere moment later her hand is gone from the blocks and she disappears around a corner never to be seen again.

Only afterwards do you realize that all this took but a few seconds to occur and that she clearly demonstrated that she has solved the riddle of living a successful life. Far to many of us get trapped by our choices and the events that happen in life; we become timid and stop reaching for our magenta blocks. This too is a decisive moment and can define the moment when we become old.

Do what you love and love what you do – life is fleeting and is the ultimate decisive moment.

Copyright 2012 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved

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