THE DECISIVE MOMENT
Niki South Student number: 514516
THE DECISIVE MOMENT
Niki South Student number: 514516
REFLECTIONS AGAINST ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
Demonstration of technical and visual skills:
Quality of outcome:
Demonstration of creativity:
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:
The theme for the series emerged: Images where the relationship between the environment and person create a decisive moment.
RESEARCH FOR ASSIGNMENT 3
I had already researched some street photographers for Assignment 2, in particular Alex Webb, Garry Winogrand and William Klein, as well as reading tips from Eric Kim (see link). I have researched Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Frank during this project’s exercises and additionally investigated these photographer’s to further broaden my view.
Additional research in preparation for assignment 3
A French humanistic photo journalist (1912-1993) who was a “deft and amusing observer of the minor aspects of life and culture which define frenchness” (Golden 2003, p 62). He considered that “The marvels of daily life are so exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street (Pollack 1977, p 144). His work bridges documentary and art. He was innovative and combined modernism, surrealism and narrative in his photographs.
In 1950 Doisneau created his most recognizable work for Life magazine – Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville), a photograph of a couple kissing in the Paris streets. Apparently he never liked the photograph, perhaps because he had posed it. More typical Doisneau images of the 1950s are unposed, but still carefully stalked and framed (children, prostitutes or market porters, and other street-dwellers in the unfashionable, parts of Paris). “He would often find a location, or a “stage” as he called it, and lie in wait for many hours for the right action or characters to arrive.” (Lichfield, 2010). He has also been described as a photographer “with an eye on the world and a love for others” (Clark 2016).
A French documentary/commercial photographer with a sense of humour, who has captured some of the defining images of the 20th century. His images may sometimes look simple but on closer inspection are not. A “gently mocking and probing eye that has always preferred to look at life’s absurdities rather than its ills” (Golden 2003, p 74). He has been called a purveyor of the “non-photograph” and “combines a deceptively casual approach with an unrivalled, sometimes gloriously silly, visual sense of wit. (O’ Mahony 2003).
He has a masterful technique although believes that the instinct that creates great photography is casual and uncontrollable. He is widely considered a ‘master’ of the indecisive moment, as he captures the irony and absurd of daily life.
An award-winning New York photographer, who is a “street photographer” in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, although now workings exclusively in colour. He was instrumental in changing the attitude toward the use of colour photograph. Speaking to Sean O’ Hagen he said “A lot of what I am looking for is a moment of astonishment,” (Guardian 2012). He believes in “recognition and the power of the frame to put disparate, unrelated things together” (Kim). Meyerowitz often uses juxtaposition or constructs relationships between subjects.
Clark, D (2016) Diverse Doisneau in Amateur Photographer 18.14.16p 30-31.
Golden, R (2003) Masters of Photography. 3rd Ed. London. Goodman.
Kim, E (unknown) 82 lessons from the masters of street photography. E book.
Lichfield, J (2010) Robert Doisneau: A window into the soul of Paris, Independent Sunday 5 December 2010. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/robert-doisneau-a-window-into-the-soul-of-paris-2151370.html (accessed 30.1.16)
O’ Hagen, S. (2012) Joel Meyerowitz: ‘brilliant mistakes … amazing accidents’. Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/nov/11/joel-meyerowitz-taking-my-time-interview (accessed 30.1.16).