I hope to bring back pictures from the world that open people's eyes—pictures that suggest the enigmatic nature of the world we live in, as well as its variety, complexity, beauty, and pain.
It's not for me to tell viewers what to find in my photographs; it's for them to discover. I believe that viewers, depending on who they are— their culture, their education, their unique personality— will each find something different in the photographs.
I believe in photographs that convey a certain level of ambiguity, that ask questions rather than provide answers.
There is something about the light, the heat (physical and perhaps metaphysical), the vibrancy of street life, and the rawness and disjointedness of much of the tropical world that has moved and disturbed me—in places where the indigenous culture is often transformed by an external northern culture (sometimes my own... I suspect that one has a few serious creative obsessions in life. I certainly cannot seem to escape this one.
When you hit that wall of utter frustration while photographing in the street, when you are beyond tired and just want to give up, keep on walking — for another hour, or until the light goes entirely. Often the best photographs come when you least expect them — when you are the most exhausted, and the most emotionally vulnerable.
Street photography is 99.9 percent about failure. So often I feel defeated by the street. I sometimes find, however, that if I keep walking, keep looking, and keep pushing myself, eventually something interesting will happen.
Every once in a while, at the end of the day, when I’m most exhausted and hungry, something—a shaft of light, an unexpected gesture, an odd juxtaposition— suddenly reveals a photograph. It’s almost as if I had to go through all those hours of frustration and failure in order to get to the place where I could finally see that singular moment at day’s end.
Photograph because you love doing it, because you absolutely have to do it, because the chief reward is going to be the process of doing it. Other rewards — recognition, financial remuneration — come to so few and are so fleeting. And even if you are somewhat successful, there will almost inevitably be stretches of time when you will be ignored, have little income, or — often — both. Certainly there are many other easier ways to make a living in this society. Take photography on as a passion, not a career.
Time is often the best editor. How you perceive your work the day after you photograph is very different from a week later, and significantly different from three weeks later— or three months. Time helps get rid of sentimental attachments to a photograph: "I really liked this person I photographed so the picture must be good" or "I worked very hard on this picture so it must be successful." Time gives you the distance necessary to see the work more clearly.
I didn't get truly excited about photography until my sophomore year of high school (although I actually learned photographic technique from my father much earlier). I had played around with making little (extremely bad) movies, using friends and family as actors, and rapidly realized that I did not want to work with lots of other people. I wanted to work alone. I began photographing in the streets of Brattleboro, Vermont, near the school that I attended, and in Boston, where my family lived. I discovered photographing in the street. I've been doing it ever since.