The Secret Of Emotive Portraiture – The Decisive Moment

In 1952 a famous photographer called Henri Cartier-Bresson coined the term “the decisive moment”. He was describing a moment in time that defines the story of the situation. He said “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.”

He was talking about a moment in time that is captured by photographers. This moment in time can help to define the situation and tell us what’s going on in the scene perhaps more than anything else in photography. These moments are powerful and long lasting. Think of iconic images. They will usually involve people. They will also be of powerful moments that seem to define and sum up a situation perfectly. Photojournalism uses the defining moment to carry a strong message to it’s audience. The decisive moment is the story.

We don’t have to be photo journalists to capture powerful moments that define the story of the situation. In fact we can use this in anything we shoot. Portrait photography, in fact, benefits from the decisive moment enormously. If you have ever seen pictures of a woman who’s only just caught the bouquet at a wedding or a swimmer reaching the finishing line and realising she’s won gold then you will understand how powerful the decisive moment can be.

You don’t have to photograph weddings or sporting events to capture the decisive moment in your portrait photography. Besides, not all of us have access to once off events. The good news is that we can photograph the decisive moment in our every day portraiture. By capturing the decisive moment you can create some wonderful candid portraits. Candid portraits are so beautiful because they surpass the staged portrait look and give us an insight into what the person is really like.

Here are some examples of some young people I photographed recently:





All photos copyright by Amy Roberts 2014.

They must not be used without written permission otherwise legal consequences will apply.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

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