The advice I like to give to young artists, or really anybody, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens.
It always amazes me that just when I think there’s nothing left to do in photography and that all permutations and possibilities have been exhausted, someone comes along and puts the medium to new use, and makes it his or her own, yanks it out of this kind of amateur status, and makes it as profound and as moving and as formally interesting as any other medium.
When I went to pick [artist Joe Zucker] up to photograph him, I didn’t recognize him. He has curly, blonde, bushy hair—but he had bought a jar of Vaseline, greased his hair down, borrowed someone’s white shirt and tie, someone else’s glasses, and he looked like a used car salesman. He understood that all he had to do was provide me with the evidence that someone like that existed for a 100th of a second. It didn’t necessarily have to be him.
I’ve watched people at the gallery looking at the nudes, and I finds it interesting that they don’t spend the most time in front of the beautiful bodies… even [young gallery-goers] seem to be more involved with the bodies that show signs of wear and tear, the one that show evidence of having been lived in.
The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.
... I think that while photography is the easiest medium in which to be competent it is probably the hardest one in which to develop an idiosyncratic personal vision. It is the hardest medium in which to separate yourself from all those other people who are doing reasonably good stuff and to find a personal voice, your own vision, and to make something that is truly, memorably yours and not someone else’s. A recognized signature style of photography is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve... Photography is not an easy medium. It is, finally, perhaps the hardest of them all.
The minute I started working with Polaroid I realized that as soon as I got a print that I thought I wanted to work from, there was no reason to make more versions. I began to take photographs that I had really no intention of making a painting from. So I reluctantly began to accept the fact that if I’m making photographs with no life other than that of a photograph, then golly, I must be a photographer. So I sort of backed into it. Thinking about myself as a photographer—it’s still something I’m not totally comfortable with.