Photographer\photojournalist Leigh Wiener (1929-1993) never got the recognition he deserved during his lifetime. Look him up! His work is certainly on par with the most famous names of his day, often exceeding them with his taste and technical mastery. One glance at his portrait of Grace Kelly or shot of Sandy Koufax in mid-delivery will tell you all you need to know about his special gift.
Maybe the fact that he was such a free thinker had something to do with his lack of wide recognition. I’ve never thought much of Cartier-Bresson’s presumptuous declaration regarding the “decisive moment,” and neither did Wiener. I admire the honesty and directness so present in his quote – and wish we’d start hearing more of that tone rather than the nonsense that fills so many current discussions of cinematography!
“Since the beginning of time, there has never been a decisive moment – or an indecisive moment, for that matter. Moments are like minutes and hours, days and weeks: one just follows another. It is people who are decisive or indecisive; not the moments in time. As a photographer, you created the image. You decide when to release the shutter. You, the photographer, are the decisive element in the taking of the photograph, not some hyped-up moment. Your sensitivity and your understanding of the subject matter, and your point of view, will determine whether your photograph is decisive or not.”