August 18th, 2017 … Memory or The Decisive Moment … Finale … almost maybe…?

There are a few Decisive Moment scenarios. One is when your working and something starts to happen. There is no set rule on Inspiring the Decisive Moment. This can happen in many ways and that in itself will create some type of masked confusion or a cloudy Decisive Moment. The normal DM kinda happens a dn you make the exposure because you were so inspired by internal or external stimuli or a combination of each. This is mostly a conscious experience.

The hopefully there in an experience that seems like all the rest of the DM’s but……something happens at exposure or at processing that marks a real moment. There is a dormant awakening that comes to light usually at sight of the image in editing or processing. With this image, wakes the recollection of the the Decisive Moment but….there is an awareness of the experience as an observer and participant at the same time. It’s like your seeing yourself, watching yourself making the photo. Maybe this is like the deja  vu of photography. It doesn’t happen all the time and not everyone gets to experience this. Not because they are at a level that prohibits the awareness but because they are not tuned into the frequency that this experience lives.

“The best images are the ones we don’t remember making.” Perhaps there is some truth to this saying. At my age, 67, I have learned that there are not many truths in life. Even the ones we tend to hold dear sometimes end up with shades of gray to them. What’s clear to me is that clarity is the resting place for the eye, heart and mind. We don’t often achieve clarity so we make photos. When we make photos we have an intent. Our intent is controlled by our knowledge and passion and our gear. Yes, the camera is a crucial element to our work.

There in most definitely a difference between the Moment and The Decisive Moment.

When I was a grunt in Nam, I carried a Leica M4. I made b&w photos. I met a photographer from Australia named Jock. He was older then me and very wise but tuned into the moment. I didn’t know that that meant back then. I suppose he was a Mentor for me and I needed the mental and emotional reinforcement. We were all sitting around smoking weed and Jock was with us and making photos. He said to me, “JIngles, where’s your camera?” I looked at him and he nodded his head. I reached in my sack and got my M4. I had made many photos of the guys and missions, everything. But now, at this moment, I had a realization that was life effecting. I understood for the efirst time the difference between the MOMENT and the MEMORY.

I understood the INTENT of each. I understood the importance of each as an individual intent and combined. The moment or decisive moment will lead to photos that add to the creative juices. The moment will lead to photos that inspire you, or maybe fill a void in the self, or even satisfy the artistic energy or maybe do the same for a client. Just realize that your most important client is you.

The memory. Wow this is the hard one. It’s the hardest intent to actually realize and do. Back to the guys and Jock in Nam. I was making photos because the subject matter is amazing. Everything was working. I was hammering the decisive moment. Then a slight calm came over me. All the sudden, the decisive moment wasn’t so important. I looked at the guys and slowly made photos of most of them. Not one but many of each. I was totally aware that I wanted to, NO….Needed to make a lasting memory of my friends, my brothers in arms and the experience. I got close to a few and asked them to look into my lens. I made many exposures. I wanted to make a portrait or photo that would outlive them and me. This intent of so fragile of a moment was MEMORY.

So realizing the difference of the Decisive Moment and the Moment of Memory is the driving force and also the force that will make or break you and your work. All you have to do is know the difference and practice it.

Be blessed everyone………Doc is letting me out of my room for the weekend……..seeya

17 thoughts on “August 18th, 2017 … Memory or The Decisive Moment … Finale … almost maybe…?”

  1. Love it, Don,

    You’ve presented quite a thought provoking discussion, and I thank you for posting it.

    I perceive, hopefully and correctly, that these moment and memory things, and their intent, are driven and secured by concurrent raw information pools unconsciously sourced from both the visual stimuli (what’s happening now) and the stored sensory memories (what’s happened before). These kickstart an initial conscious unlearned action to ‘get the shot’, but when practiced over and over it becomes an unconscious learned action that at times remains unacknowledged until the image of that ‘decisive moment’ is viewed, at another place within another time frame, but is loaded with its original moment and memory.

    Mind you, this is purely hypothetical on my part, and I’m being very left field here, but worth the shot.


    1. Sean, no doubt you bring food to the table. I thank you for that as always. Now everyone knows your my mentor and that’s ok. Now you know it too.

      I like how if I take your comment and juxtapose it with mine, the way they appear to be of the same eye, heart and mind. That’s a good thing my friend, very good.

    1. “Life is a body taking a mind for a walk, just to see what’s there.” (Cory Taylor)……perhaps just looking for the Heart….

  2. I’ve read your last three posts several times, as they speak directly to the struggles that I face with my photography. Without realizing it, I have always used photography to focus on the memory rather than the moment. I use photography partly to remind me of the details of my life. As an example, I set a project for myself in June to print a single photo from every day of my summer – a shot that best represents the main thing from that day.

    The moment is something that I have only been indirectly aware of. Prior to your posts on this topic, I was aware of the moment, but when I try to photograph the moment I am rarely successful. I know there is something there, and I work on it, trying to force myself to distil what it is that makes this moment worth capturing so that others can see it, too. More often than not I end up with nothing. Now that I realize what this is, I see that these failures are a necessary part of developing the skill of capturing the decisive moment.

    1. Mark, The entire point of my posting anything is to share my knowledge and experiences. I don’t claim to be the GURU that others do, just a guy that’s care to share. That being said, you have instilled in me the energy for another post on this topic. I’m glad you get it and more glad that it is bouncing around in your brain. I’m sure that after reading your post above, you will digest this series and maybe find a light to work towards.

      Thanks for the inspiration, much appreciated. Don

  3. Once again, excellent read Don. I am learning a lot from your essays and I am currently battling / training with this issue of memory or and moment; not an easy task at all..but I shall keep on at it 🙂

    1. Zahyr. I’m glad your getting something out of this. I seem to need more post on this thread and will post in a few daze. Thanks my friend.

  4. Hello!

    Your articles on DM are very interesting and thoughts provoking! Thanks a lot! I don’t think that I understand DM well, below are just thoughts. As far as I understood your thoughts, it seems, there are no contradictions, but if so, please let me know. Also, of course, there could be something that I’m misuderstanding.

    First, there is a Moment. There are a lot of Moments, which flows like a river: quietly and smoothly. And one from them could be The Decisive Moment. The Moment is felt, The Decisive Moment is heartfelt. There are a lot of Moments, thousands of them. Figuratively speaking, these moments are like thousands of ways. But you don’t choose any of them, you just explore/observe and just walk. And… bam, you get The Decisive Moment. The Decisive Moment is like choosing certain way. At this moment, the way is chosen. At this point, the shutter could be released or not. The chosen way could be very short (DM requires immediate reaction) or quite long (you just noticed some interesting scene to which you would like to come back a bit later). The Decisive Moment ropes someone into particular moment/way, to deeper dive into it. In the same time, I think that The Decisive Moment could be lost, e.g. the shutter released too late.

    While I was reading your the latest arcticle, I was recalling a book with miscellaneous interesting interviews with Bernardo Bertolucci (“La mia magnifica ossessione. Scritti, ricordi, interventi (1962-2010)”). He said that there should be a door to be opened for improvisation. And yet another words on cinema: “… my point of view had been expressed by Renoir: cinema – is the large mechanism, in which everything is determined (debugged) in advance, but into this mechanism unexpectedly invades (via purposely opened door) the reality and roughly tears down everything that have been determined. Improvisation, randomness and forethought are merged together. And also emotions, how said Samuel Fuller”.

    Also, Bernardo Bertolucci reminds how they were filming one scene from “Last Tango in Paris”. The artists had only few repetitions (for good reasons). And while they were filming the scene, something unpredictable has happened but they were continuing to film the scene. They didn’t stop, and later they didn’t try to make it again. As the result, they got something else than they expected. The scene was transformed into something different than they determined.

    But I don’t think that there was DM in this story. I don’t see (at this point) a space for DM in the process, e.g. during exposure or at processing. I think that DM is a start point of the process. I’m writing these last paragraphs, because, I’m not sure that I understood you correctly. I understood that there could be DM during the process. (may be I just can see only one possible scenario of DM?).

  5. … I’m re-reading the words said by Bernardo Bertolucci again and again… And it seems to me that Memory “is the large mechanism, in which everything is determined in advance”. Memory is kinda protecting shell, it allows us to keep safe, to be not taken by surprise. It seems that, to be present at the Moment means to be weak, to be naked, to be always prepared that the reality would tear down everything that was determined before….

    1. Andrey,
      I don’t think we never get NUDE. There is always the clothing of the self. For photography, the beauty is that we can work and feel free to be our self in a way that still wraps the shroud of protection around us but it’s a sheer shroud. The moment brings with us the memories and thoughts, emotions of our past. Everything we were is bundled up together.
      I have another post in the works. Please let me know what you think.

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