The Decisive Moment

"To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event." - Henri Cartier Bresson
Decisive moment = that instant when the formal spatial relationships of the subjects reveal their essential meaning
  • The moment that expresses the essence of a situation
  • The instant that real life becomes artful
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Behind the Gare St. Lazare, Paris, 1932.











Hans Bellmer, La Poupee, 1936? Gelatin silver print.
Hans Bellmer, La Poupee, c. 1934. Gelatin silver print.











Hannah Hoch, Puppen, 1919.











Hans Bellmer, La Poupee, 1935 - 1937.

"Pure Arayan Family" Neues Volk Cover, 1938.











Hans Bellmer, Cepholopde











Hans Bellmer, Woman Bound, 1958.











Hans Bellmer, La Poupee (The Doll), c. 1934. Gelatin silver print.










Golden period of American news photography 1930s to 1950s
development of halftone printing methods in the 1930s

halftone = reprographic technique that simulates continuous tone imagery through the use of equally spaced dots of varying size.
allows for the printing of photographic image and text on the same surface with the same printing plate
Telephotography = transmission of images via telephone





















Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936.











Midweed Pictorial spread using Migrant Mother image. October 17, 1936.










Bill Ganzel, Florence Owens Thompson and her daughters Norma, Katherine and Ruby, 1979.











Walker Evans, Car Parts, c. 1930.











Walker Evans, Shoeshine Stand, 1936.











Allie Mae Burroughs

Walker Evans, Floyd Burroughs, 1936.
Walker Evans, Allie Mae Burroughs, 1936.











Burrough's Kitchen

Walker Evans, Kitchen in Floyd Burroughs' Home, 1936.
Walker Evans, Kitchen Corner in Floyd Burroughs' Home, 1936.












1938 Walker Evans's work exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art's first show devoted to a photographer











The Bauhaus
1919 - 1933



Walter Gropius, Bauhaus Building, Dessau, Germany, 1925 - 1926.











Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Bauhaus Balconies, 1926.











Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Scandinavia, 1930.
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Merman, 1927











John Heartfield,  Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spits Out Junk, 1932.










John Heartfield, Thank Heaven He's a Vegetarian, 1936.
John Heartfield, And Yet She Is Moving!, 1943.











Life Magazine
1936 - 2007

Life Magazine- first cover

Wanted to publish new magazine that would:
  • Tell newsworthy stories
  • Promote mainstream American values
  • Was a pleasure to look at
  • Eloquently combined pictures and text to convey its messages
Margaret Bourke-White, Fort Peck Dam, Montana, First issue of Life magazine, November 23, 1936.










Luce's concept: "Pictures and words would be partners… The camera would act as interpreter, recording what modern industrial civilization is, how it looks, how it meshes."
- Margaret Bourke W

Life magazine layout for the photo essay, Nurse Midwife, 1951.











Life Magazine aimed to humanize politics through photography
  • Vivid images that spontaneously captured poignant moments
  • Large-size format
  • Printed on coated stock for a glossy sheen