The arts equally have distinct departments, and unless photography has its own possibilities of expression, separate from those of the other arts, it is merely a process, not an art; but granted that it is an art, reliance should be placed unreservedly upon those possibilities, that they may be made to yield the fullest results.
Let me here call attention to one of the most universally popular mistakes that have to do with photography - that of classing supposedly excellent work as professional, and using the term amateur to convey the idea of immature productions and to excuse atrociously poor photographs. As a matter of fact nearly all the greatest work is being, and has always been done, by those who are following photography for the love of it, and not merely for financial reasons. As the name implies, an amateur is one who works for love; and viewed in this light the incorrectness of the popular classification is readily apparent.
His [Strand] vision is potential. His work is pure. It does not rely on tricks of process. In the history of photography there are but few photographers, who from the point of view of expression, have really done work of any importance. And by importance we mean work that has some relatively lasting quality, that element which gives all art itself real signifiance.
Standing up here on the hill away from all humans - seeing these Wonders taking place before one's eyes-so silently-it is queer to feel that beyond the hills there are Humans astir-&- just the reverse of what one feels in watching the silence of Nature. -No school-no church-is as good a teacher as the eye understandingly seeing what's before it-I believe this more firmly than ever.
The writer does not approve of complicated mechanisms, as they are sure to get out of order at important moments, thus causing considerable unnecessary swearing, and often the loss of a precious opportunity. My own camera is of the simplest pattern and has never left me in the lurch, although it has had some very tough handling...
In order to obtain pictures by means of the hand camera it is well to choose your subject, regardless of figures, and carefully study the lines and lighting. After having determined upon these watch the passing figures and await the moment in which everything is in balance; that is, satisfied your eye. This often means hours of patient waiting. My picture, "Fifth Avenue, Winter" is the result of a three hours' stand during a fierce snow-storm on February 22nd 1893, awaiting the proper moment. My patience was duly rewarded. Of course, the result contained an element of chance, as I might have stood there for hours without succeeding in getting the desired pictures.
My ideal is to achieve the ability to produce numberless prints from each negative, prints all significantly alive, yet indistinguishably alike, and to be able to circulate them at a price not higher than that of a popular magazine, or even a daily paper. To gain that ability there has been no choice but to follow the road I have chosen.
I have all but killed myself for Photography. My passion for it is greater than ever. It's forty years that I have fought its fight - and I'll fight to the finish - single handed & without money if need be. It is not photographs - it is not photographers - I am fighting for. And my own photographs I never sign. I am not fighting to make a 'name' for myself. Maybe you have some feeling for what the fight is for. It's a world's fight. This sounds mad. But so is Camera Work mad. All that's born of spirit seems mad in these [days] of materialism run riot.
My photographs look like photographs—and in [the] eyes [of pictorial photographers] they therefore can’t be art... My aim is increasingly to make my photographs look so much like photographs that unless one has eyes and sees, they won’t be seen—and still everyone will never forget having once looked at them.