Why should not the camera artist break away from the worn out conventions... and claim the freedom of expression which any art must have to be alive.
I wish to state emphatically that I do not believe in any sort of handwork or manipulation on a photographic negative or print.
It is my hope that photography may fall in line with all the other arts and with her infinite possibilities, do things strange and more fascinating than the most fantastic dreams.
Photography is too easy in a superficial way, and in consequence is treated slightingly by people who ought to know better. One does not consider Music an inferior art simply because little Mary can play a scale.
Why, I ask you earnestly, need we go on making commonplace little exposures that may be sorted into groups of landscapes, portraits and figure studies? Think of the joy of doing something which it would be impossible to tell which was top and which was the bottom!... I do not think we have begun even to realize the possibilities of the camera.
My aim in photography is always to convey a mood and not to impart local information. This is not an easy matter, for the camera if left to its own devices will simply impart local information to the exclusiveness of everything else.
Photography makes one conscious of beauty everywhere, even in the simplest things, even in what is often considered commonplace or ugly. Yet nothing is really 'ordinary’, for every fragment of the world is crowned with wonder and mystery, and a great and surprising beauty.
Why should not the camera also throw off the shackles of conventional representation...? Why not repeated successive exposures of an object in motion on the same plate? Why should not perspective be studied from angles hitherto neglected or unobserved?... Think of the joy of doing something which it would be impossible to classify, or to tell which was the top and which was the bottom!
I wish to state here very emphatically that I do not believe in any sort of handwork or manipulations of a photographic print or negative. I would much rather have a hard, sharp, shiny, old-fashioned silver print... than the modern trash, half photography, half indifferent draughtsmanship...
What we need in photography is more sincerity, more respect for our medium and less respect for its decayed conventions.
I have not attempted to do anything eccentric in the way of portrayals, but I have studied my men and their works with enthusiasm, and in each instance I have tried to catch and reveal the elusive something that differentiates a man of talent from his fellows, and makes life worth while, worth struggling with towards ever great understanding. (1913)