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The Decisive Moment

Deadline for submissions: Dec 11, 2017
Juror: Sam Abell
Prints due: Jan 19, 2018
Exhibition: January 31 - March 3, 2018

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.

ACH29651_87547- juror
Deb Achak / The Queue, Maui
AND97893_32685- juror
Amy Anderson /
Obed and Moe,

from the series "At Risk, with Promise"
ARC04982_64814- juror
Roger Archibald /
Barber Chair Sequence (2)
BAR56593_34576- juror
David Bartlett /
Photographers At Aviary/
Columbus Zoo
BEA84395_39868- juror
Kay Beausoleil / Standoff
BER07825_88483- juror
John Bernhard / Houston Flood
BLA79826_19644- juror
Jill Jordan / Pike
CAS60625_23995- juror
Lorraine Castillo / Illusions
CAV14913_60543- juror
Jane Cave / Hooked Up
CON56496_14306- juror
Beverly Conley /
Woman Plucking a Chicken,
Elkins, Arkansas
DON69779_27889- juror
Jennifer Rose /
Fleeing My Shadow
FOU31249_00832- juror
Collette V. Fournier /
"Ms. Alma Series"
HAR25137_90015- juror
Sally Harris / One Man Band
HAU31126_79087- juror
Hank Hauptmann /
Untitled, Boston, MA, 2016
IVA66735_81913- juror
Paul Ivanushka /
Mika Penning
JAM44299_29737- juror
Merritt James /
The Jump
JAM44299_50705- juror
Merritt James / One Sick One Well
KIM43195_25329- juror
John Kimmich-Javier /
Encierro, Pamplona, Spain
MAL75169_43087- juror
Brian Malloy /
Man at Table Grand
Central Market, Downtown LA
MCD18133_11888- juror
Ann W. McDonald /
Sunrise on the Ganges
MOS48698_10008- juror
Rebecca Moseman /
Christina and Dog, Irish
Traveler Halting Site
NEU46434_33722- juror
Marjorie Neu / After the Kill
NOB82985_91112- juror
George Nobechi /
Walk, Run, Leap at the D.T.
Suzuki Zen Museum, Kanazawa
O'S67556_87259- juror
Melissa O'Shaughnessy /
Op Art, 34th Street, New York
ORT18741_61179- juror
Richard Orton /
Dinner on the Grounds
POS78806_73115- juror
Daniel Lee Postaer /
San Francisco, California Street, 2015
PRO17506_24392- juror
James Prochnik /
Running Late
SAG29453_41638- juror
Stefano Sagri /
SMO16888_61914- juror
Linda Smogor /
Thorey's Wedding
SUT90382_51296- juror
Sonia Suter /
After the Meltdown
WAG82852_59836- juror
Dan Wagner /
Midtown NYC
WIN86681_08561- juror
Caren Winnall / Gust
AGR01391_59953- juror
Geoffrey Agrons /
Mother and Daughter
ARC04982_37867- juror
Roger Archibald / Headrig
BER25273_92178- juror
Bruce Berkow /
Venice Telephone
BLA79826_59595- juror
Jill Jordan / On Your Mark
COR73115_17757- juror
Sarah Corbin / The Fight
COR73115_77111- juror
Sarah Corbin / The Chase
DEN83681_00383- juror
David Dennard / Offering
DOS15678_76734- juror
Thouly Dosios /
Dia de la Virgen Guadalupe
EME28958_54252- juror
Len Emery / Curl
FAR42063_43082- juror
Mark Farber / New Orleans 2016
FIE26277_07126- juror
Jo Fields / Cannon Beach, Oregon
GRE05258_29193- juror
Paul Greenberg /
Museum Guard and Giacometti
GRE05258_73578- juror
Paul Greenberg / POST NO DREAMS
GUT23167_67216- juror
Analia Gutierrez / Untitled,
from the series "Exposed"
HAC54564_38217- juror
Linda Hacker / Going Home
HAC54564_47268- juror
Linda Hacker /
Reflection No. 7
HOW76266_66124- juror
George Howard / Glaziers
JOH96764_23019- juror
Nancy A. Johnson /
W. 47th St., New York City
KAY98868_95444- juror
Nancy Kaye / Directions
KIM43195_22247- juror
John Kimmich-Javier /
Veronica, Pamplona, Spain
LEH04836_06104- juror
Nancy Lehrer / The Meeting
LEH04836_31117- juror
Nancy Lehrer / Moving Day
MCC34893_45999- juror
B. McCormick / Smoking
MCD18133_57737- juror
Ann W. McDonald /
Prayers on the Ganges
MEA14024_17523- juror
Joseph Meacham /
Ghost Palace
NEM06648_87076- juror
Gene Nemeth / The Scream - Redux
NOD70735_82256- juror
Evelyn Nodwell /
Aikido Demonstration
POS78806_39009- juror
Daniel Lee Postaer /
Shanghai VII, 2014
PRI04198_19546- juror
Jennifer Pritchard /
Vida y Muerte
PRO17506_59829- juror
James Prochnik /
Polar Bear Plunge
ROA31426_12395- juror
Erika Roa / Naptime
ROA31426_95705- juror
Erika Roa /
Last Stop Today
ROW57128_99744- juror
Russ Rowland / Wedding Prep
SCH11263_04845- juror
Jody Schwartz /
Marrakesh, Morocco
SHE07854_69021- juror
Stephen Sheffield / Double Jump
SHE46485_87694- juror
Li Shen /
Woman with Boats
STE92991_14129- juror
Jim Sterne / Winter Wonderland

Juror's Statement

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

About the Juror

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

Call for Entries

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.

- Sam Abell

Recipients of the Juror’s Award and Director’s Award will each be entitled to a portfolio review by Sam Abell.

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