“Pleasure is found first in anticipation, later in memory.” ― Gustave Flaubert

When we analyse The Decisive Moment, we need to think about the Anticipation of this moment. Is this something that we do instinctively or can we develop this skill?

Firstly, we need to see the potential in the scene. When I am out at Street, I see strong elements that make for a good image. Then my mind needs to visualise or imagine, how these elements can fit together. If there are moving subjects, where they are and where are they likely to be. How they will act or react. So I need to be thinking on my feet and move quickly. My decision is basically, where to stand and when to press the shutter. Using my instinct instead of reason, because often I only have a split second to make this decision. If I stop to think about what aperture or shutter speed to shoot at, it’s likely that this moment will be lost forever.

Secondly it is all about the timing.. Anticipating the moment, we feel instinctively when to press the shutter. However, if we wait to see the elements line up in the viewfinder,  then it is most likely it will be too late and we have missed the moment. So we anticipate and press the shutter just as the action unfolds.

In this image I had found my stage, the repeating pattern of the Zebra crossing makes for an interesting foreground and leads my eye to the subjects. My first subject is walking quickly, then the man on the bicycle is moving into the scene. Instinctively I wait to see if I can capture the two moving subjects at just the right moment so that it appears purposeful. I need to time this image to capture them both exactly where I want them. A moment too early and my lady will be out of step, a moment too late and my subjects will overlap. So I compose my image and wait. I don’t over think this. I enjoy the anticipation and then the pleasure of the capture. You can practice this, even without your camera. Look for interesting subjects and scenes and think about how and when you would press the shutter.


Do you have any strategies that help you anticipate the action?

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