Early in my career I went to Aspen, CO for a couple summer workshops at the Center of The Eye. While there I saw a notice that the Aspen Gallery of Art was hosting a presentation of Henri Cartier Bresson's work. I hopped on my motorcycle and went to see the work. As I walked up to the front door of the gallery I saw two men on the front steps. An older gentleman with his back to me and a younger man who addressed me as I approached. "The gallery is closed today, Please come back tomorrow to see the exhibit.'' I thanked him and turned to go. As I did I heard him say to the other man, "I'll see you tomorrow Henri." I froze in my tracks thinking, 'If you're ever going to do it, do it now!" I stopped and waited for him to walk up. "Excuse me, Are you Mr. Bresson?" "Yes." Naively I asked if he was going to speak at the school I was attending. He thought for a moment and said, "No, After all, what is there to say." I puzzled at the comment and he continued. "You either shot the picture, . . or you didn't!" I was stunned. He went on, "I never like to make enlargements in the darkroom. I just look at the proofsheets to see if I got the shot" Then he said,"I never have to see a photographer's work to know if they are any good. I just watch how they work with their subject, the lens they choose, where they stand. It's like watching a ballet dancer practicing at the rail. If they are any good you never have to see them in performance!" I couldn't breath for a moment. I had just had a private audience with one of the greatest photographer's in the world. My head was spinning. The next day I was walking the streets of Aspen. It was hot. People were everywhere, shopping, strolling. It was very festive. Ahead of me were two couples walking along the sidewalk, guys on the outside, girls in the middle. All were wearing plaid outdoor shirts and hiking shorts with hiking boots. As I walked behind them I saw a movement off to my left come into view. It was him. He walked between me and the foursome, brought his Leica up and with a small pirouette shot the picture at the top of the move with that classic "Ssst, sound that the Leica barely makes when the shutter is fired. He turned to the left and went back across the street and was gone. Again I was stunned. I had just seen a classic example of "The Decisive Moment" in action. To this day meeting him and seeing him work has been the most important moment in my career as a photographer and will continue to hold a magical place in my mind and heart.
The Decisive Moment in Aspen, CO.