What I write here is a description of what I have come to understand about photography, from photographing and from looking at photographs. A work of art is that thing whose form and content are organic to the tools and materials that made it. Still photography is a chemical, mechanical process. Literal description or the illusion of literal description, is what the tools and materials of still photography do better than any other graphic medium. A still photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how a camera saw a piece of time and space. Understanding this, one can postulate the following theorem: Anything and all things are photographable. A photograph can only look like how the camera saw what was photographed. Or, how the camera saw the piece of time and space is responsible for how the photograph looks. Therefore, a photograph can look any way. Or, there's no way a photograph has to look (beyond being an illusion of a literal description). Or, there are no external or abstract or preconceived rules of design that can apply to still photographs. I like to think of photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium, by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both.
[If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would] do something to shake it up.
You see something happening and you bang away at it. Either you get what you saw or you get something else--and whichever is better you print.
...In the end, maybe the correct language would be how the fact of putting four edges around a collection of information or facts transforms it. A photograph is not what was photographed, it’s something else.
I really try to divorce myself from any thought of possible use of this stuff. That’s part of the discipline. My only purpose while I’m working is to try to make interesting photographs, and what to do with them is another act – a alter consideration. Certainly while I’m working, I want them to be as useless as possible.
The primary problem is to learn to be your own toughest critic. You have to pay attention to intelligent work, and to work at the same time. You see. I mean, you’ve got to bounce off better work. It’s matter of working.
I don't have messages in my pictures...The true business of photography is to capture a bit of reality (whatever that is) on film.
I like to think of photographing as a two way act of respect. Respect for the medium by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject by describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both. I photograph to see what things look like photographed.
For me the true business of photography is to capture a bit of reality (whatever that is) on film... if, later, the reality means something to someone else, so much the better.
You have a lifetime to learn technique. But I can teach you what is more important than technique, how to see; learn that and all you have to do afterwards is press the shutter.
There are things I back off from trying to talk about, you know. Particularly my own work. Also, there may be things better left unsaid. At times I'd much rather talk about other (people's) work.
And a friend of mine at that time, I was talking to him about it—a guy named Dan Weiner. I don't know if you know his name. He's dead now. [He] asked me if I had ever seen ...Walker Evans' book and I said, no. I had never heard of Walker Evans. He said, if you're going around the country, take a look at the book. And he did me a big fat favor.
I don't deal with these things like they're masterpieces. I deal with them in terms of what I'm interested in at a given moment, really.
I think that there isn’t a photograph in the world that has any narrative ability... They do not tell stories—they show you what something looks like. To a camera.
I don’t know if all the women in the photographs are beautiful, but I do know the women are beautiful in the photographs.
I don’t have to have any storytelling responsibility to what I’m photographing. I have a responsibility to describe well...
When asked how he felt about missing photographs while he reloaded his camera with film, he replied "There are no photographs while I'm reloading"
There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described I like to think of photographing as a two way act of respect. Respect for the medium, by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both.
How do I say it? The way I would put it is that I get totally out of myself. It’s the closest I come to not existing, I think, which is the best--which is to me attractive.
Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.
I photograph what intrests me all the time. I live with the pictures to see what that thing looks like photographed.
No, the only thing that’s difficult is reloading when things are happening. Can you get it done fast enough?
For me the true business of photography is to capture a bit of reality (whatever that is) on film…if, later, the reality means something to someone else, so much the better.
Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the picture as judgment that the photograph is good.
I don't have anything to say in any picture. My only interest in photography is to see what something looks like as a photograph. I have no preconceptions.
Well, I'm not going to get into that. I think that those kind of distinctions and lists of titles like "street photographer" are so stupid. I'm a photographer, a still photographer. That's it.
I start shooting. I look. I don’t have to know the language, I don’t have to know where to get a good cup of coffee.
A photographer’s responsible for two things. Once you put your body where you want it to be, what’s in the frame and when you snap the shutter. That’s what the photographer does. The camera does the rest.
We know too much about how photographs look... It is natural to make those pictures we know. It’s boring, you don’t learn anything that way. You keep making what you know.
I think it’s a stupid term, “street photography.” I don’t think it tells you anything about the photographer or work. On the subject, I have a book out called the animals. Call me the same—I’m a “zoo photographer.” I mean it all really doesn’t make any sense to me, you know?