What is the "Decisive Moment'?
Digital Photography School has a post today discussing the "Decisive Moment". The Decisive Moment is basically the moment you know you need to hit the shutter. It's one of those now or never moments. You are either going to get that shot or miss it forever. The Decisive Moment is something that many photographers learn to see coming and they can feel when something big is about to go down. It's the way a photographer will watch a musician move back and forth on stage and memorize the lighting pattern, then taking both of those into consideration will snap the shutter at the perfect moment.
Is the "Decisive Moment" Dead?
The DPS articles quotes a National Geographic photographer saying:
“A photographer shoots 20,000 to 60,000 images on assignment. Of those, perhaps a dozen will see the published light of day”
Read more: http://www.digital-photography-school.com/1000-shots-a-day-the-national-geographic-photographer#ixzz1mHSJv5ua
I'm sure this is surprising to many people, but it doesn't surprise me at all. I work at a place where I get around 6000 photos for one shoot and I end up using around 50 or less of them for a video project. When news like this gets out that professionals are holding down the shutter and motor driving their entire shoots, people start to think that they are just "spraying and praying" and that the decisive moment is not taken into consideration. This is not true. When I shoot a wedding or a concert, I will burst 5 frames a second. I'll end up with a TON of images. This is not because I am just shooting as much as I can and hope I am getting good images. I am shooting 5 frames a second OF the decisive moment. I study my subject and I can see when they are going to scream into a mic or when the bride is about to let tears fly and when this moment happens, I'm going to fire as many shots of it as I can.
Many photographers like to pretend their DSLR only shoots 24 frames, like a roll of film. Many say it helps them learn the decisive moment and teaches them how to compose a compelling shot quickly, but during an event where I need to make frames, I'm not going to do that. Sure, going outside and pretending you only have 24 images to make a compelling frames is a great exercise and you should do it, but why do it when you need to capture a moment that you won't be able to capture again?
I understand where a lot of photographers are coming from, though. Many beginners are going out and just firing away frames without a care in the world and this is wrong. It's important to learn what makes a great frame and to study your subject. The decisive moment should not be a thing of the past, but we should evlove with it. Our cameras are allowing us to capture many, many frames within seconds and it's allowing us to capture thousands and thousands on a tiny little hard drive, so let's take advantage of it. Let's pair the decisive moment with our new technology and create images that could have never a few years ago.