The Decisive Moment

Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote “the decisive moment ... is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organisation of forms which gives that event proper expression”. I have applied this thinking to architectural photography and developed an approach which incorporates it into my work. This is outlined below.

My focus is 99.9% planning, surveying and waiting and 0.1% shooting. I concentrate on:

• the history and design of my subject, in depth, before visiting it
• the effect of weather, longitude/latitude and direction of facing on light, colour, contrast and shadow

That "decisive moment" occurred when:

• the weather was sunny and the sky was blue
• the time of day was supported representational use of light and colour
• the light supported the themes of my Final Project
• the vehicles, people and other extraneous elements were no longer in the way
• I had found the right vantage point to show the majesty of the architecture’s lines and curves as well as its environment (including the bushes in the foreground)

In shooting the Curry Building I intended to support its colours with similar from its local environment.

The two unfurled flags demonstrate this because:

• the Tricolour and the Union Jack are red, white and blue. These are core colours to this project;
• the flags represent the national ingredients of my subject matter. Art Deco originated in France; the architects of my chosen subject matter are British;
• the current occupier, JC Decaux, is an Anglo-French company. The flags therefore represent its heritage.

The "decisive moment" came after much waiting and many shots, at a time when the two flags were unfurled by the wind. What of the third flag on the left? That is of the EU and is blue with a circle of yellow stars. Yellow did not fit my colour scheme so I needed that flag to hang at the same time as the others were unfurled.