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Philip Flip Collier

Into Their Souls
An interpretation of what my “Decisive moment” is through my 52 years of Street Photography
Henri Cartier-Bresson talks about what he calls “The Decisive Moment”, he says: “Composition must be one of our constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved are on the move.”
For me, in street photography the decisive moment is in the honesty of the moment when you make first eye contact with someone. There can be no purer moment! Before they even have time to react. That is a moment that is completely spontaneous and morally honest, unhinged from decision, before any judgment and free from action or reaction, a zero point.  The moment when they are asking themselves what is going on here? Is this guy friend or foe? Why the fuck is he taking my picture? That is what I aim to capture in a street portrait. I’m not saying that you need to have eye contact in all street photographs, you don’t. I’m not saying that if you give them another moment to react it ruins the image, it doesn’t, but when you do capture them in this moment of indecisiveness, it is very special.  It is extraordinarily powerful.
I remember seeing a photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron titled, “the Echo” it was a portrait of Hatty Campbell dressed as a nymph of Mount Helicon and attendant of the goddess Hera. It is a beautiful image, soft and delicate with her long flowing hair looking at you with longing in her eyes and I could not pull away from her stare. I fell into the gaze of someone who lived a 150 years before me. I was entranced, fixed, motionless and powerless to regain control. It seemed an eternity, as if we had lived a whole lifetime together, in that moment. It makes you feel you are part of the image, it draws you in and every time you look at that image you are right back to that initial moment of contact. It is that moment of truth when you can look deep into another person’s eyes and look deep into their souls. That is the magic moment for me.

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