Street Photography- The decisive moment ?

These days, when people talk of street photography people always seem to harp on “The Decisive Moment” and the genre of HCB and his set of styles and beliefs. It would seem that HCB is the originator of  street photography and anything else which does not , atleast try, to achieve the ‘Decisive moment’ does not qualify as street photography.

Then there are a million opinions on what constitutes ‘Decisive Moment’ and what does not. I am not a pundit on Street Photography, but IMHO, there is more to street photography other than the decisive moment.

The raison d’etre of street photography is to capture life on the streets, from the point of view of the photographer. It can be a moment, decisive or poignant. Or it can be very literal and personal, giving audience a visceral experience of the walks of life. It can also take the form of social documentary photography, which is an act of recording human activities in their natural surroundings. Photographers like Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks were major proponents of this genre. Then there is Andre Kertesz, whose photographs would never have a ‘Decisive Moment’ but is said to have had major impact on street photographers of later generations, including HCB.


But the current discussions at most forums of street photography seems to accept on HCB’s frame of reference (ie decisive moment) and discard all others. Surely, there are exceptions. But they are minor exceptions , than major ones.

This would raise questions (atleast, in my mind) on the future direction of street photography.


Where do you think it is headed ?

(my opinions on this would follow on a later date)

4 thoughts on “Street Photography- The decisive moment ?

  1. I like what you say, It may horrify people to say this but I think that HCB’s decisive moment is not as decisive as you might think, a picture like ‘Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare’ is absolutely decisive but many are not, a second here or there would make little difference. I love street photography but I do like to get people in my pictures.
    I will look forward to seeing more of your pictures.

  2. Indranil – I think you make it what you want it to be, the individual photographer does. There is no need for strict or formal definition. The photographer sees or notices things or moments based upon what he/she has seen in life and the impact it has made on their person. That impact, impression, or whatever, causes some things to be significant to that photographer, while maybe not effecting another photog in the least.

    I rather enjoy your blog…I think it says a lot about you that you are open to being amazed, surprised, and saddened by what life throws at you. Thank you for sharing as you do. Scott

  3. Indranil,
    Thank you for your visit to my blog. I have visited yours and I’m very impressed by your photography. You are a photographer that documents how life occurs around us and show the different aspects and moods of reality. You don’t lie, your photos are the very truth of what life is. Bad or good. I admire people that do not need to embellish their photos to show only what pleases others. Raw reality has a beauty by itself because it shows feelings clearly that were captured by you and your camera through your eyes. I hope you understand my opinion.

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