The Decisive Moment

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What the eye does is to find and focus on the particular subject within the mass of reality; what the camera does is simply to register upon film the decision made by the eye.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

The Cartier-Bresson show at the Pompidou was overwhelming in scope, but exquisite to walk through: the golden ratio, the fixed explosive, indeed, the decisive moment. I am not a photographer, although I do enjoy taking pictures: thinking about them, working with them – knowing, in this modern day of iPhoneography, that I have the ability to crop, lighten, filter, or erase. My relationship to taking pictures has changed, and Paris helps me track that change. For instance, until this summer I had not set foot inside the Palais Garnier in more than fourteen years. The last time I had a chance to photograph Chagall’s ceiling, I captured it on actual film. Cartier-Bresson writes, “You wait and wait, and then finally you press the button – and you depart with the feeling (though you don’t know why) that you’ve really got something.” For me that feeling was always hope, mixed with a certain bleak premonition that it would turn out all wrong – out of focus, poorly lit, or more likely, getting back a roll of film only to discover that I had my finger in the way.

I like the instant gratification of digital photography, although part of me does miss the anticipation. There was wonder in the waiting. Seeing what we capture in the moment of its capture, though, I’ve developed a different relationship to the pictures I take. I’m not sure how to explain it. I appreciate them more. I think about them more. They start to mean something.

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rue Vavin

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quai aux Fleurs

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detail from the Chagall ceiling, Palais Garnier

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detail from the Chagall ceiling, Palais Garnier

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Wine Hour, quai aux Fleurs

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Instant Gratification

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In the Garden

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