Decisive Moment

Yesterday was rainy and dreary, cold and miserable all day.  I spent most of the day sitting on the couch by the woodstove reading The Possible Life of Christian Boltanksi, a sort of autobiography by the great French artist.


Truth be told I’ve been feeling a little frustrated lately.  I’ve been feeling stuck with my work.  As a result, I’ve decided to focus all my energies into the camera, and to spend my time and money making new negatives rather working in the darkroom.  Focusing solely on the camera, I’m hoping to find something new, the next thing to really pursue with my work.

Insight with the camera seems to come and go.  Sitting there reading, I was feeling incredilby anxious about my work.  On such a grey day, the light was terrible, and with the book in hand, I was tossing and turning, looking for inspiration, something to get me over the hump and start making pictures.


Around 4 o’clock, the sun broke through.  The light was amazing.  The sky was still think and grey, with a warm, rich light peeking through, leaving strong shadows, and with a depth to articulate any object.  I dropped the book, picked up the camera, and rushed to find something to photograph under the light.  I tried several things, and hope I found something that worked.

What matters most, however, was the release.  The anxiety peeled away.  The light didn’t last more than 10 minutes before the grey consumed it, but for this brief time I felt resolved.  When I set the camera down and returned to Boltanski, I actually found myself thinking about Cartier-Bresson.  I thought about the Decisive Moment, and that perhaps there is a different way to think about it.  Rather than looking for a moment to reveal itselt – the apex of a dramatic moment – perhaps the Decisive Moment is more about a personal feeling boiling up until it is ready to be articulated.

Sitting by the woodstove reading, thinking, and trying to see my next picture, I developed a real anxiety and doubt about my photography.  In just a few minutes the light revealed some possibility to me, and with that possibility I had ten minutes to relieve all this doubt.  The Decisive Moment was a resolve of a personal feeling.  Rather than the drama of the world around me revealing its meaning, the moment was a release from myself.  The drama was all my own.



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