My answer to the question: A moment is a unique coming together of elements in the frame in a way that is simply complex.
Some people who make pictures think that the moment is the action layer of a photograph, the stopping of an occurrence, as if you could automatically get a moment by mashing the button on a motor drive. And therefore the more peak the moment, the more valuable the photograph.
There is great merit in capturing the peak of an action layer. But that alone doesn’t create a full frame. And creating a full frame is really the goal.
A full frame is one in which every part of the image does something to convey the quality of your interpretation of a scene. So the moment isn’t just the action layer, it’s every other part of the frame coming together in an interesting way.
Creating images where the smallest element in the frame is what holds together the whole is the goal.
How do you increase the chances of that happening? Most people build the image in the viewfinder by concentrating on getting the action layer right and worry less about the small aspects in the frame. Do the opposite. The action layer will happen regardless, the rest won’t.
So make sure that the background works, be sure that all elements fall in place outside of the action layer, as you’re releasing the shutter as the action layer unfolds. In essence the camera makes the picture of the action layer but you create the frame in which it unfolds.
Create the frame deliberately to reflect a quality – as opposed to just getting stuff in our out of the picture – and you’ll succeed more often.
But don't even think about lifting the camera to your eye until you know what quality you need to convey of the scene in front of you.
This thought on the making of pictures is a small part of what I offer to clients.