A celebrated pioneer of photojournalism, Henri Cartier Bresson, coined the term "the decisive moment." It is often misinterpreted as the instant when the football makes contact with the quarterback's fingertips or the politician gestures. Though photographic timing is important, it isn't always what makes a memorable picture.
The decisive moment is when knowledge, inspiration, and action work in unison. Heightened intuition carries the photographer forward. There is no hesitation – you see it and record it.
Monitor reporter Ben Arnoldy and I were crisscrossing Utah. It was 5 p.m., and we decided to take a quick side trip to Arches National Park so I could see it before the sun went down. I described a formation I'd seen in a photo that had sparked my curiosity – Balancing Rock. At the next turn, there it was. I snapped away, getting it from every angle. We reached a point just behind it as the sun set. Four formations were in view. The excited snapping slowed as my mind quieted. Nothing mattered but the setting sun and those remarkable natural sculptures.
Decisive moments happen when one's imagination is unleashed. You don't have to be a photographer to experience it. You simply allow yourself a moment of stillness in order to be carried away.