for a photographer the moment of seeing can also be a moment of revelation
I've never drawn inspiration from just one stylistic point of view. I find just as much to love in Annie Leibovitz's portraits as I do in Cartier-Bresson's street scenes. When I approach a shoot these influences all tug at each other. My desire is to create an amazing, arresting image that no one has ever seen before, but also to find a spontaneous moment that is simply captured, then gone. Over the years I've learned that I am only happy when trying to satisfy both aesthetics.
Sam Jones, (2007). The Here and Now: The Photography of Sam Jones. N.Y. HarperCollinsPublishers
The critical moment for the photographer is the moment of seeing, a creative act which involves the perceiving of the subject to be photographed in the first place and the photographing of it in the last place. Between those two actions there is flexibility as to how long the moment may last or what it includes from the point of view of the artist.
The decision as to when to photograph, the actual click of the shutter, is partly controlled from the outside, by the flow of life; but it also comes from the mind and heart of the artist. The photograph is his vision of the world and expresses, however subtly, his values and convictions.
Sometimes the artist's vision is concerned with the evanescent, with things that pass, oddities and exceptional happenings of life in movement. Then, the moment is decisive. A second later, and the essential relationship of objects within the frame will have shifted. The significance of the event lies in an instant's equilibrium between the temporary and the enduring.
Yet photography is not limited to such moments of immediate insight. Its tempos change according to the photographic problem. A rock hammered year after year by the sea, slow-growing plants, an architectural feature or landmark weathered by many winters... such things permit long periods of reflection in which to decide what part of the object will be included or excluded; in other words selection becomes the arbiter of content. Even here immediacy can be valuable once the problem has been thoroughly understood and resolved. One may put off the moment of photographing from three o'clock today to three o'clock tomorrow, only to find something has changed that can never be recovered.
Paul Strand, 1976