What Inspires Me? Decisive Moments Do. (Thank You, Henri Cartier-Bresson)


Earlier this month, over on my Tumblr blog, I asked the question:  “What are you passionate about?”

I got a small but very interesting range of responses that got me to thinking some more about the things that inspire us to take action, to shake us out of our routines, to make us better people.  That led me to think about the people, places and things in my life that influenced me to step out on faith, and pursue my aspirations of becoming a professional photographer.

I took art history classes in college.  They transformed how I began to see myself and the world, but I didn’t stop there. I took my passion for art and sought to build a conventional museum career, but it just wasn’t my time yet.

Fortunately, for me, I got a second chance…..a number of disparate elements did conspire to bring me back to my center, to my first love, my deepest passion.  Conversations with trusted confidants.  The melody or the lyrics or the message in a song that moved me in a deep and indescribable way.  Other times, it was the touch of a hand, or a kiss on my lips.  Still, other times, it could be a novel, or a poem, or a movie. Dreams I’ve had were disturbing yet inspiring.  I’ve been touched deeply by someone’s scent or the innocent and playful laugh of child full of hope and determination to spread her wings and fly.

The point is, I can’t really point to one discrete element and say, yes, that is what inspired me to give this thing a try one more time. I can’t always anticipate those things that will move me so, but I try to be open to all things so that I don’t miss those opportunities.

With that said, from time to time, I will blog about that which inspires and informs my photography and more importantly, that which influences my general outlook on why it is vitally important for a post-modern society to embrace and support the arts.  A society that devalues the individual creative impulse is a society doomed to certain failure.  In my humble opinion, art, creativity, culture, are all important civilizing elements; technology, philosophy and politics can only take us so far.

So, I thought it would be fitting to launch these series of posts with a short video retrospective of the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, widely considered to be the father of street photography/photojournalism.  He wrote and spoke of the “decisive moment” in photography, ‘the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.”

This is what I’m strove to work on as a shooter during year one of what I term Act II of my life…….to align my mind’s eye with what has been described as “the camera’s ability to transfix a moment in time’s flow.” Over a year ago, I bought a new camera, starting first to seek and document the beauty in ordinary people and things….venturing into places overlooked or outright rejected by others…. and, as Bresson eloquently noted, to mine the depths for decisive moments, hoping “to preserve life in the act of living.”

As I move into year two of my Act II journey, I don’t know what the future will hold for me, but I am committed to opening my heart and mind to the little things that can prove themselves to be big game-changers.

Watch the video and be sure to leave a comment or send me a private note.

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