A3 – The Decisive Moment, preliminary ideas and thoughts

A3 Brief


To be honest, my first thoughts were divided between: oh no, not this decisive moment (DM) crack again, vs Hmm this should be easy, the street photography element, easy to do right? Well, both of these thoughts bothered me, why not do as the brief suggests and think outside the box (did I just use that expression?)?; the idea of light, a scene coming together in a visual peak moment really appealed to me. So I started jotting ideas down in my notebook(s) letting my imagination run away a bit, but trying to keep both the task and the assessment criteria in mind, easy to do, right?
Once again the (creative) freedom that can be inferred from the brief, that of not having to tell a story, not having to keep with the HCB/Winogrand idea of the DM, and the fact that times of day, light, landscape (anything really) all have their own DM when you actually think carefully about it, made it harder to formulate any coherent idea (as can be seen from the myriad of thoughts, notes here:

A3 notes 1

“I suppose I could justify ANY moment as being decisive, couldn’t I?” Yeah, probably. Not that simple though, and I needed to solidify, direct my energies into something a bit more concrete…

That was beginning to happen, I was honing in on using (my ever-present love/fixation with) shadows/architecture as I always look to do. One of the future tasks from this course looks at taking a series of pictures of a subject at different times of day (Ex.4.2) and I thought that would be a nice idea for this project.
Whether or not I am clinging to a sense of feeling safe by sticking with what I know, or whether I am simply using what I seem to be able to do reasonably well, that remains to be seen. Hardly a mistake to use one’s strengths is it? Assuming it is actually a strength.
As long as we think through it, be aware of it, and equally do not refuse to at least try something new, right? Besides, I am still at the start with all this, so a certain lack of wild experimental development on my part is understandable, is it not? (Although the opposite could well be said too!)

I was also reading a lot of different books (not just for this assignment, but more for myself and the general understanding of photography) and found some lovely examples, perhaps not of the omnipresent DM, but of some more contemporary uses of photography using sculpture, words, letters, semiotics as it were, which, I have to say, I found very exciting and stimulating (and still do).
Finally finishing Cotton’s book (Cotton, 2009) I then had time to go through it again, making some notes and looking for inspiration, which I’d say I definitely found in Chapter 8 – Physical and Material (pp219-49). From Christopher Williams’ very personal, fairly ambiguous, narrative to  Sara VanDerBeek’s idiosyncratic sculptures and finally to Shannon Ebnar’s photography as a language of visual signs which I found refreshing and not as alien to me as one would expect probably thanks to my own love of language, psycholinguistics, and the spoken word?
A more solid, tangible thought spang to mind when looking at Ebnar’s 2010 work “Agitate”.

A3 notes 6
Shannon Ebner, Agitate, 2010

I thought I could adapt her idea, although far less sociopolitical in essence and effect. I thought of creating an acronym, or simply spelling out the words DECISIVE MOMENT. That really didn’t work and just went round in pleasant circles (and was more shots than the 6-8 limit from the brief):

Whatever that means!
There was more. This was probably the best of the rest, but felt (and still feels) stilted, and too contrived. So I dropped that idea for a more visual construction of the letters with the hope of capturing shadows appearing to form letters that spell out MOMENT (had to drop the DECISIVE thanks to the 6 to 8 shot limit); each of these shots would obviously need to have been taken during some sort of DM of their own…

I started looking for letters everywhere, but they had to be created by a critical alignment of shadows, light, glimpses of architectural fragments to formulate the letters I was looking for (being M-O-M-E-N-T, see contact sheets below). Slowly, I began to build up the letters I needed although had some real trouble with N and O (some sort of subconscious negation you could say).

Looking on-line and in my books I started noticing more sculptural work from photographers/artists (which has developed into some personal projects I am currently working on – soon to be blogged). Artists such as Man Ray’s photomontages as well as Joseph Cornell’s intriguing constructions.

But it was  Ebner’s work that resonated (and still does!) with me and the research for this assignment. The idea started to take shape:

A3 notes 3
Second additional idea: road sign

Final idea
Then, almost out of the blue and additional idea started to jump out at me: the idea of putting the 6 shots and mounting them on to a road sign: to create a fictional road name of Moment Way. I really liked the way I could play around with the idea of the DM being just a WAY of photographing and not the ONLY way. The idea of adding graffiti with some sort of
statement regarding (my take on) the decisive moment, I was thinking something along the lines of  “THE DECISIVE moment IS JUST A way” (graffiti in BOLD capitals)

Notes from notebook

A3 notes 4


A3 notes 7

a3-small-nb-1a3-small-nb-2A3 notes 5A3 notes 1


A3 CS1

A3 Cs2ii


Whitney.org. (2016). 2008 WHITNEY BIENNIAL. [online] Available at: http://whitney.org/www/2008biennial/www/?section=artists&page=artist_ebner [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Baker, H. (2014). Top 10 Collage Artists: Hannah Höch to Man Ray. [online] AnOther. Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/3318/top-10-collage-artists-hannah-hoch-to-man-ray [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Pem.org. (2016). PEM | Joseph Cornell: Navigating The Imagination Launch Page. [online] Available at: http://www.pem.org/sites/cornell/# [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Web.archive.org. (2016). SAAM :: Interact. [online] Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20070225054532/http://americanart.si.edu:80/collections/interact/slideshow/cornell.cfm [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Ang, T. (2015). Photography. Milano: Gribaudo.

Ingledew, J. (2013) Photography. 2nd ed. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

Clarke, G. (1997). The photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jeffrey, I. and Kozloff, M. (2008). How to read a photograph. London: Thames & Hudson.

Cotten, C., The Photograph as Contemporary Art, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London, 2004 (p239)

Szarkowski, J. (1966). The photographer’s eye. New York: Museum of Modern Art; distributed by Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y.

Shore, S. (2013). The nature of photographs. London: Phaidon.

Diprose, G. and Robins, J. (2012). Photography : the new basics. London: Thames & Hudson.



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