The Cover of Life
In photography, we often refer back to Henri Cartier Bresson’s introduction of capturing the “Decisive Moment.” What constitutes this perfect moment in time…is it purely aesthetic or is it defined by the emotional impact of the image?
Arthur Griffin’s Quincy Quarry taken in 1938 was featured on the cover of LIFE Magazine in August of that year. The image takes on an unfamiliar perspective; the viewer is only able to see the area of departure of these divers without clues to where they may be landing. For a Massachusetts native, this image may not be jarring but imagine the young child who picked up this issue of LIFE in another part of the country and had so many questions about where those men would touch down.
Griffin captured the divers at an opportune moment, highlighting the point of departure and leaving room for the imagination to map out their trajectories. The presence of shadow against the rock quarry wall and the two men’s arms reaching out to the edge of the frame constituted this image to be selected for the cover of the issue. The bounds of the rectangle tightly hug in the action of the jumpers, freezing this exciting moment in time for us to experience almost 76 years later.