Touching Moment vs Decisive Moment

Inside the Artic Circle, 1967: Eskimo child chasing ball. [photo by: Don Rutledge]
What a moment this is of a little boy playing with a ball. No matter where you are from in the world this captures a moment of joy that we all experienced playing ball.

“Photography is not like painting,” Henry Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”

Cartier-Bresson published a book in 1952 called The Decisive Moment. In the preface he quoted Cardinal de Retz, “Il n’y a rien dans ce monde qui n’ait un moment decisif” [“There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment”].

Shortly after coming to the Home Mission Board, Don spent six weeks photographing inside the Artic Circle, Alaska in 1967. This photo was taken as Don, with two volunteer workers, visited an Eskimo house. So happy was the family to see their friends, everyone ignored Don’s click-click-click. {photo by: Don Rutledge]

Now if you have studied photography you will know all about Henry Cartier-Bresson and The Decisive Moment. If you haven’t then you most likely will have no clue as to what it is all about.

Today I was hit with this problem that when we as photographers start talking to our clients in our terms rather than their terms we will not only lose them, but often create a divide between us.

The Citadel Recognition Weekend in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 | Sport, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 3200, ƒ/8, 1/4000]
When talking to the public about capturing a “Decisive Moment” I think we should be saying we are about capturing a “Touching Moment”.

You will hear people say “What a Touching Moment” more than you will ever hear them say what a “Decisive Moment”. if you Google the two you will see what I am talking about.

Philip Newberry, who has no hands or feet from meningitis, with Matilda, a neighbor’s cat. [photo by: Stanley Leary]
The Decisive Moment search yields all the stuff about photography and the Touching Moment will turn up photos and videos about emotional moments.

While the Decisive Moment is more than just a Touching Moment you still end up taking time to educate your audience about what you are talking about and in the same moment never really give it the justice it needs.

Father Flor Maria Rigoni is a missionary with the San Carlos Scalabrini and works in the town of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico.

I am only suggesting to use “Touching Moments” as something the average person understands more than trying to educate them on what I call a “photographic term”.

I am often guilty of digging in my heals and trying to explain my position. If you want to win people over learn their perspective and talk about your position from their perspective and not yours.

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