Henri Cartier-Bresson coined the phrase the decisive moment to describe the instant when the action before the lens is not simply captured by the photographer, but organized in such a way as to give it power and grace, balance and form. Decisive moments are not always the same for the athletes or fans as they are for photographers. Capturing the winning touchdown, the diver’s perfect entry into the water, the power of a skier racing in the giant slalom, can establish an imagine in sports eternity, but is not necessarily decisive moment in the photographic sense. Photographers have a responsibility to satisfy their editors and the public, who often seek only the highlights of the game. However, the finest photographers are able to fulfill this responsibility and seek to make pictures that are greater than a single defining action, pictures with aesthetic qualities that last through time.

Joerg Mitter emphasizes that there is a lot of “calculated risk” in extreme sports. The athletes have to trust the photographers because everyone is together in challenging and dangerous situations. In extreme sports photography, there are no second chances. Mitter considers everything, including the backgrounds, and must preconceptualize the picture. The athletes keep their stunts real, and Mitter would also never photoshop a picture.

Joerg Mitter (Austrian, born 1980). Levi Sherwood of New Zealand performs in front of the St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square, Russia, June 24, 2010. Color photograph. Joerg Mitter // Limex Images

"If hate is poison, then love's the cure
And it’s you that drives the demons from my door
When they got me cornered, close to giving in
I feel you round me like a second skin"

- Army of Angels // The Script