It’s been 30 years since Peter Poulides was named one of the great travel photographers in the December 1983 issue of Travel and Leisure. He came to my office, dropped the issue on my desk and laughed that we should do a “throw back Thursday” post on the blog. I was amused. 30 years ago, if someone said write a blog post on #tbt they would not know what you meant. Yet, here we are.
I pick up the magazine and look at the cover. It is endearing. His mother wrote what page he was featured on in the middle of the forehead of the girl on the front. As I thumb through the 126 pages to get there, I skip over a multitude of early 80s ads for cars and alcohol.
I get to the article and the list of photographers is impressive. I immediately recognize some of the greats – Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mary Ellen Mark and Arnold Newman. Each photographer has a featured photograph and I see Peter’s image of the Greek church in Mykonos.
There is a common quality between all of the photographs in this spread and I see it clearly in Peter’s shot – stillness. This does not mean that there is not movement and energy in these photographs. What it means is that there is an arrested motion – a suspension that is so delicate that one more moment later, it will be destroyed.
“I was there with my partner, a writer, photographing for about 45 minutes,” Peter says in the article. “Finally, she became cold, began shivering and wanted to leave. I started to pack things up, turned my shoulders and was about to leave, but looked back and said, ‘just one more shot.’ This is it.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson coined this concept as “the decisive moment.” It is the moment when all of the elements come together and for a split second are in complete alignment. They are at peace with one another.
A good photographer is aware of these moments. A great photographer is an essential element of the moment.