The crisp crack of a spoon breaking the burnt-sugar shell of a crème brûlée. Pricking a poached egg to see the sunshine-yellow yolk ooze out. The surprisingly soft pop of a champagne cork. Getting to the next level on Angry Birds. Forget more effortful events like wedding days or childbirth, these are the single-second moments in life to take an altogether more humble pleasure in. Over just as soon as they begin, their only sticking point is the very brevity of their being - given the chance, who wouldn't stretch out those short snapshots of satisfaction over a lengthier period of time?
Cue LIFE photographer Gjon Mili and his series of portraits of Pablo Picasso taken in the South of France in 1949. They show Picasso using a small flashlight to draw in the air, much the same as writing your name with a sparkler on bonfire night - yet this time the image is captured on camera, that one vanishing second sealed on film via a darkened room and a slow shutter speed. What I find so captivating about the results is the visible vitality of Picasso behind each light drawing - it's a two-for-one artistic offer where you see both creator and creation together at once, the ecstasy of a single enlightened flash of imagination eternalised as a piece of work itself. If only we could press the pause button on other such all-too-brief moments in life - but then again, perhaps that's what makes them so precious in the first place.