1st thoughts: To me “The decisive moment” instantly screamed street photography, however having used this predominantly for my Crowds assignment I tried at first to think outside of the box. I toyed and tested the idea of sports photography; I then tested freezing and blurring waves and weather moments. I captured some good images but though some were beautiful, they seemed one dimensional and were not images that lingered in my mind later. Ultimately I felt that I needed to work with human subjects as a part of a composition and therefore returned to street photography.
Preparations: This mind map outlines my initial thoughts about using street photography as a medium for this assignment:
I decided that presenting the work in monochrome would fit in with the spirit of the Cartier Bresson “Decisive moment” and give me a noticeable difference and separation from the colourful street photography and a new challenge.
The first shoot: I set out on my first serious shoot with a variety of ideas, but with the intent to be spontaneous and instinctive to see what developed. I headed to various locations in London as from my “test” shoots locally I knew that I would need a higher footfall to increase my chances of capturing something interesting. I found as the day wore on my “looking” improved. I pursued two ideas initially; firstly composing a partially geometrically pleasing shot and waiting for a subject enter to complete it, secondly watching for interesting gestures or behaviours (especially people looking lost). Reviewing the images, few of my earliest attempts of the first group were particularly pleasing, though I had caught some interesting gesture images. However shooting instinctively as the day wore on I the images that had the most impact had interesting backgrounds (street art, graffiti, signage, pattern and colour) with a human subject that added to this in a significant way. Some of these were caught quickly and spontaneously (smoking), while for some I had to wait patientlyto combine all the necessary elements together (never grow up).
The second shoot: Having reviewed the previous shoot I was focused on what I needed to complete the series: interesting backgrounds with people to complete/enhance the composition. Although I had almost enough images already for the assignment. I needed to be certain that I had got the best that I could, by revisiting some of the locations could I improve on them? I resolved to remain alert for good “gesture” shots and any interesting accidental catches, keeping my options open just in case I changed track again.
Reflections post shooting: I was able to capture a few more good images, but the 1st shoot had been by far the best.
This mind map shows my editing criteria:
After the 1st shoot I eliminated my concept of “lost people” which were not effective and thought that I would eliminate gestures also, although I had a few good images:
I chose the locations that had brought the best compositions and then concentrated on choosing the best image for each. My options were converse to other assignments, as this time I had a narrow number of locations but a wider number of images at each location to choose from. This enable me to reduce my possible images to eight locations. These are the last 4 images that I dismissed:
When editing I strove for “beauty in a fragment of time”, a fleeting precise organisation of form, as well as images that linger, engage the viewer or poses questions. I additionally looked for:
- Images with ambiguity or open to interpretation by the viewer.
- A graphic and/or visual message.
- A synergistic relationship between an environment and a person.
The theme for the series emerged: Images where the relationship between the environment and person create a decisive moment.