l never take pictures just for the taking of pictures... l want the end product; that's what I'm really interested in... I use it to do a job, which is to make a book.
Above all, the photographs I use are not “arty” in any sense of the word. I think photography is dead as fine art; its only place is in the commercial world, for technical or information purposes.
My pictures are not that interesting, nor the subject matter. They are simply a collection of “facts;” my book is more like a collection of “Ready-mades.”
I just use [the camera]. I just pick it up like an axe when I’ve got to chop down a tree. I pick up a camera and go out and shoot the pictures I have to shoot.
When I first did the book on gasoline stations, people would look at it and say, “Are you kidding or what? Why are you doing this?” In a sense, that’s what I was after: I was after the head-scratching.
There were no rules to be written, and no rules to be followed in the same sense that there are in painting and sculpture and other forms of art.
It’s a playground, is all it is. Photography’s just a playground for me. I’m not a photographer at all.
Hand-crafted photographic prints are dead as a fine art. I think the real fine art of photography is in picture-making. The making of an impression of a negative onto photographic paper is not as important as the actual picture value of the image, which could be reproduced in a magazine, a newspaper, or a ten cent xerox.
Yes, there’s a certain power to a photograph. The camera has a way of disorienting a person, if it wants to and, for me, when it disorients, it’s got real value.
I never take pictures just for the taking of pictures... I want the end product; that’s what I’m really interested in. It’s strictly a medium to use or not to use, and I use it only when I have to use it. I use it to do a job, which is to make a book.
I believe in intuition and approaching things as instant gratification. Just do the things you want to do, make the kind of pictures you want to make.
I wanted to make a book of some kind. And at the same time, I—my whole attitude about everything came out in this one phrase that I made up for myself, which was “twenty-six gasoline stations.” I worked on that in my mind for a long time and I knew that title before the book had even come about. And then, paradoxically, the idea of the photographs of the gasoline stations came around, so it’s an idea first—and then I kind of worked it down.
The photography by itself doesn’t mean anything to me: it’s the gas station, that’s the important thing.
Originally, I thought that the pictures were a means to an end, a vehicle to make a book. And than along the way came some gear shifting. Over the years, I began to appreciate print quality and see my photographs as not necessarily reproductions for a book but having their own life as gelatin silver prints.