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Another decisive moment

Years later in Barcelona I experienced in an even stronger way what it is in fact to capture a “decisive moment” in snapshot photography.

As I was strolling around the port with my Leica in hand, a man sitting on the dock caught my attention. He could be a Moroccan immigrant, in worn out clothes, and seemed to enjoy throwing breadcrumbs to the fish, seagulls and pigeons all at the same time.

It looked amusing and I started taking pictures. I selected a high shutter speed. It was not very easy to get the whole scene in the frame.

Another man was on the left side, and I stepped ahead and swung to the right to concentrate on the one with the birds around him. Thus I was able to get some converging lines in the frame also.

As I was starting to press the release button, I suddenly had a feeling of perfect synchronism, for in the same process the character turned round left with that big smile and for some reason made a gesture of lifting his right thumb up as to say OK. I have no idea of why he did so, but I insist: it is not that the man started and I then triggered. Indeed his movement was exactly simultaneous to my finger’s movement pushing the button. I knew instantly this was a good picture.

(Unfortunately the fish cannot be seen. To see them you have to look to the next view.)

Such experiences lead me to a less naive notion of snapshot photography: the decisive, unexpected element happens within a frame that is already determined, which it comes to complement.

Continued: What about the moving image?


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