“There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Simple put, the decisive moment is when a photographer decides to press the shutter button and take a picture. It’s not always easy to do. Capturing a fraction of a second of time, takes skill and skill take practice.
Mood is the primary factor in the decisive moment. A photographer must decide what mood he or she is trying to capture. When photographing family and friends, a shooter usually wants flattering or happy photos, especially when subjects are children.
Other than smiley photos of people who are close, I feel that a photographer is the director of his or her subject(s) and must take control of expressions and posing, but not always in a formal manner. With rare exceptions, a photographer should never blame the subject for anything.
As a photojournalist, I’m obligated to create a photo that matches the accompanying story or article. That isn’t always easy because even when dealing with a tragedy, expressions of those involved sometimes run the gamut from tears to smiles to laughter.
I find it bizarre on social media to see people gathered around a hospital bed and smiling for the camera when a sleeping, unconscious, or dead person is on the bed.
Often, when I’m photographing someone, I tell them what expression I want and how to sit, stand, or lean, and I’m always mindful that they appear comfortable and not awkward.
I recently covered a talk by a man who was in an airliner that crashed in the everglades in Miami on Dec. 29, 1972. Although Ron Infantino was severely injured, he was one of 85 survivors; however, his new bride was killed along with 100 other passengers.
I shot a lot of pictures trying to capture an image that would work with his detailed tragic story. He didn’t shed a tear but if he had, I would have gotten it. He smiled briefly at times when relating a humorous incident in the hospital during his extended recovery period.
I didn’t want to wait until afterward to get a standup pose or shots with other people. So, I kept working it and I think the included photo works best for the story.
The room was large with light colored walls and floor tile, and lighted (possibly over-lit) with fluorescent lights. The lighting was overall even and I didn’t want to use a flash, so I jacked my ISO up to 1600 and set my camera on P (Program). I used a software program to darken the projected image on the wall. It worked.