For me this was the ultimate lesson that Barnes brought to the class. While it may not always be great marketing, artists should be free to explore whatever quickens their pulse. Over the long haul they will inevitable find a thread that unifies their vision. Finding this revelatory thread (and not the stupid ‘sentence’) seems to be one of the most meaningful experiences to come from a life making art.
I have the belief that Americana still exists. Because that's the thing, these places are still out there, these people are still out there, and that's something I'm less jaded about; it's still a rich world to be explored.
Try everything. Photojournalism, fashion, portraiture, nudes, whatever. You won’t know what kind of photographer you are until you try it.
My big theory is that [photography] doesn’t function as a narrative, but the photographer takes the place of the protagonist in the story, and you take the place of the photographer.
Whether you are Minor White or Robert Frank, almost every photograph starts with an act of pure description—a window. But every now and then you catch a glimpse of the photographer’s reflection. The mirror is just another function of the window.
[Photography is] very related to poetry. It’s suggestive and fragmentary and unsatisfying in a lot of ways. It’s as much about what you leave out as what you put in.
I’ve never been comfortable photographing people I know, myself included. I guess I prefer the mystery of strangers.
Photography, is so stupid. It's obvious... Everyone can do it, and yet certain moments have this magic. And that's what you're always looking for.
This is the same problem I have with digital photography. The potential is always remarkable. But the medium never settles. Each year there is a better camera to buy and new software to download. The user never has time to become comfortable with the tool. Consequently too much of the work is merely about the technology. The HDR and QTVR fads are good examples. Instead of focusing on the subject, users obsess over RAW conversion, Photoshop plug-ins, and on and on. For good work to develop the technology needs to become as stable and functional as a typewriter.
Photography's closest cousin is poetry because of the way it sparks your imagination and leaves gaps for the viewer to fill in.
In a world where the 2 billionth photograph has been uploaded to Flickr, which looks like an Eggleston picture! How do you deal with making photographs with the tens of thousands of photographs being uploaded to Facebook every second, how do you manage that? How do you contribute to that? What’s the point?
Fun is important. You should like the process and the subject. If you are bored or unhappy with your subject it will show up in the pictures.
Photography is a frustrating medium. Fragmentary, frozen and mute—photographs can never match the immersive pleasures of film or music. So why bother with film sets and lighting crews? The simple process of making pictures is rich enough.
Photography is a language. To communicate, you need to learn the language. The history of photography is like the vocabulary and influence is like a dialect. One shouldn’t be embarrassed about having an accent.
Try everything. Photojournalism, fashion, portraiture, nudes, whatever. You won’t know what kind of photographer you are until you try it. During one summer vacation (in college) I worked for a born-again tabletop photographer. All day long we’d photograph socks and listen to Christian radio. That summer I learned I was neither a studio photographer nor a born-again Christian. Another year I worked for a small suburban newspaper chain and was surprised to learn that I enjoyed assignment photography. Fun is important. You should like the process and the subject. If you are bored or unhappy with your subject it will show up in the pictures. If in your heart of hearts you want to take pictures of kitties, take pictures of kitties.
Making a picture is great, making a photo project is something else. What I aspire to, is putting pictures together in a meaningful way.