Sometimes, it’s not really one shot but rather one of many.
Back in the day when we used enlargers and chemistry labs, many of those decisive moments were decided by looking at a 1 1/2″ image on a contact sheet. Imagine trying to make that decision today looking at just thumbnails on your screen. Think about how difficult it must have been back in that time to see that from just a contact sheet, or worse; strips of negatives!
The “decisive moment” (as Henri Cartier Bresson coined) may have been selected by a publication editor or a lab tech who printed the image. Sure the photographer may have taken the shot but someone else might have decided which was going to surface to the public. The photographer may have taken a hundred images of which there may have many perfectly decisive moments but only one came to the public’s eye. The others may have fallen out of favor because compared to the best one that met certain goals, they were inferior but under other criteria, they may have been better than the chosen image.
The point I’m trying to make is, you can’t look for just one moment. You have to look for many. Shoot lots of images so you have a lot to choose from and a lot of near misses (as is most of the cases.) It’s not just one click of the shutter. To find “the moment” you have to photograph lots of them. Don’t think for a minute that every click is a keeper and, don’t be afraid to trash all the files that miss the mark.
Below is a selection of some of what I call my one-shot wonders. Click an image for enlargement or you might miss the the full picture—D’oh!