Inspiration Photography

Photography is about attention

When should you press the shutter?


Storm clouds threatened that morning at Kusumba beach, Bali. The boat owners had dragged their taxi boats, used by many to transport goods and people to nearby islands like Nusa Penida.

The clouds hovered low and dark.

A woman, pensive, her face reflecting the darkness that was roiling in the sky, walked away as the boat’s motor was detached. There would be no trip that morning.

The story an image can tell combines a lot of elements. The work of an image-maker who wants to tell a story in a single shot involves paying attention to what’s in the frame and asking questions like, What details to include so the story is self-evident in the frame? What to exclude that is not necessary to the story?

Timing is crucial. In the Kusumba image, the motor being carried by the man in the background and the moment when the unhappy woman looked down with the frown was the moment for the shot.

Henri Cartier-Bresson taught us that what he calls the decisive moment, that moment when a photographer decides to press the shutter button, is a discipline of attention. He said, “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”

For inspiration: The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson



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