Prints of most of these images are available for purchase. Please inquire.All photographs are the copyright of the individual artists and may not be reproduced without their permission.
Henri Cartier-Bresson was the shadow juror for this exhibit. And why not? 'The Decisive Moment' is the comprehensive phrase used to describe Bresson's process, aspirations and results. It is also the title of the influential book he published in 1952--a book, and a body of work, so timeless it became the theme of this exhibit 65 years later.
As juror I tried to bring Bresson and his work to bear on my selections. 'What would Henri say about this picture?' was a recurring thought of mine. That question presented a daunting challenge for any one image to live up to. For Bresson's work is known not just for moments but also for the setting which surrounds those moments. It is the elegant choreography between fleeting moment and enduring setting that has made his images so celebrated.
Therefore please take time to appreciate how the photographers whose images are included in this exhibit actually worked. They worked like Bresson. That is, they saw the whole scene within which a moment--a decisive moment--could occur. Their work is honored because it lives up to Bresson's succinct definition of the act, and the art, of photography:
To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.
- Sam Abell
Sam Abell is a legendary teacher, artist and photographer who learned photography from his father, also a teacher, at their home in Sylvania, Ohio. After graduating from the University of Kentucky, Sam worked for National Geographic as a contract and staff photographer for 33 years. In 1990, his work was the subject of a one-person exhibition and monograph titled Stay This Moment at the International Center of Photography in New York City, New York. Since then he has published 3 collections of his work: Seeing Gardens; and The Life of a Photograph. In addition, Sam maintains an international career as a writer, teacher and lecturer on photography. Read more about Sam Abell at www.samabell.com.
The phrase ‘decisive moment’ permanently entered the language of photography in 1952 with the publication of Henri-Cartier Bresson’s classic book of black and white images. In words and pictures Bresson presented his philosophy of photography:
"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.”
‘The decisive moment’ became the name for an entire school of documentary photography, one that profoundly influenced—and continues to influence—generations of photographers. I am one of those photographers.
Why? Because the phrase succinctly describes our highest aspirations. We believe there is both truth and beauty in the image that eloquently–decisively–captures life’s fleeting moments.
In her diary Virginia Woolf also wrote about moments. She saw in them a spiritual importance and forcefully wanted them to be emotionally and artistically realized. She wanted moments to ‘stay’ and lamented that, “No one ever says that enough.” But photographers, I believe, say it every time they skillfully make a thoughtful, heartfelt photograph.
This juried exhibition is a call to those photographers who have taken photography’s true test: The straight rendering of life’s moments.
Recipients of the Juror’s Award and Director’s Award will each be entitled to a portfolio review by Sam Abell.