The Decisive Moment revisited
Cartier-Bresson’s image: Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare shows a snapshot of a man jumping a puddle. What is surprising is that Cartier-Bresson said that he couldn’t actually see what he was photographing as all he could do was put the camera at a hole in the fence.
Looking at this photograph, I feel the “pivotal point” is the jumping person and his reflection. The fact that the man is out of focus reinforces the movement, and it is the movement that forces the eye to return to it again and again. If Cartier-Bresson had managed to get the man in focus, then the effect would be different. The eye would not necessarily be drawn to him. It could be towards the more central figure in the background, or the railway sign. But as the only movement in this photograph is of the man jumping the puddle, the eye will always be drawn to him.
I took a series of photographs on a wet day in Oxford, one of which is shown below. I took several photographs of people walking over this puddle, but I selected this one because I cannot tell whether the person is about to step into the puddle, or skim over it. I can’t remember the detail as I took many that day, so I have to guess the outcome. I believe the foot went into the water, but I will never know…………….