In science, there is no firmly defined unit of time for the moment. The moment is an assignment that is short in its length but not measurable in its duration. The duration results more from a personal feeling than from the complexity of the image. The process of photography can be divided into three phases: the moment of defining, the moment of capture and the moment of reception.


The Moment of Defining

There is that single moment when the photographer decides to take a photo because he thinks it is worthy of a special place in a series of events and should be captured in order not to fade away. It can be based on planning, a hunch or even coincidence, but this moment is already defined by the presence and use of a camera.

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms, which give that event its proper expression.
Henri Cartier-Bresson


The Moment of Capture

When the camera frames the motif, the tended moment is recorded. This recording of the moment can be controlled to a certain extent (choice of camera type, image format, film or digital, exposure time, ISO, etc.). The style and imaging possibilities are determined both by the photographer (through his settings) and by the camera (design). Shutter speed settings reveal the elasticity of the term “moment”.

For me, the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously.
Henri Cartier-Bresson


The Moment of Reception

Last but not least, the recipient of the photo comes into play, be it the photographer himself or any other observer of the captured moment. The moment has been captured to have an effect. Without a perceiving subject, the photograph remains an object without interpretation. The insight lies in the eye of the beholder. The motif does not have to work. If no interest is aroused, it remains one picture among billions of others. A good photo appeals to the viewer: to explore it, to recognise it and to assign it meaning in terms of content or emotion. In the best case scenario, the moment of the shot comes back to life or is transformed into something new.

The difference between a good picture and a mediocre picture is a millimeter.
Henri Cartier-Bresson


So the moment in photography is multivalent. It is neither a singular nor a unique phenomenon. The photographer captures a momentary image with his camera and hands it over to the viewer for interpretation.