The Decisive Moment

The Decisive Moment In Daygame

Paris, 1969

The godfather of candid photojournalism Henri Cartier-Bresson defined the the aim of his photography as capturing “the decisive moment”:

“When the visual and psychological elements of people in a real life scene spontaneously and briefly come together in perfect resonance to express the essence of that situation”

I’ve often thought of daygame along similar lines, where a fleeting, transitory moment is captured by approaching the girl at just the right moment in time and therefore giving it recognition and permanence. The girl sitting down outside the coffee shop, stepping off a bus or emerging from a shop...this is the moment.

“Photography is not like painting,” Cartier-Bresson explained in an interview. “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”

It’s the same with daygame. Once you’ve mastered your craft then you’re working on intuition. You’re a highly precise sniper rather than the untrained man with the shotgun, as I explain in this video. Finely tuned pre-approach calibration spots the IOIs, the opening in the crowd, the optimal time to go in.

A beginner might stop her as she’s crossing at a light, or approach as she’s saying hello to a friend. He might crash into her as he goes in too close or get jostled as he tries to open her in a crowd. The social intelligence and gut instinct that comes with years of infield experience is not yet developed.

Girls often comment that when I initially stopped them on the street it was a “serendipitous moment” as a second or two before or after our worlds wouldn’t have met. Even though a daygamer inwardly smiles at this because he knows it wasn’t as random  as she thought, there’s still a huge sense of lucky coincidence about the whole thing.

Click. Once you’ve got the Street Hustling skill set down, being in the right place at the right time means the decisive moment will happen.

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