I profoundly believe that a photographer worthy of the name is first and foremost a human being, a person deeply concerned with the human predicament. Such a person will want to make his photography do a job of work for the particular cause he has espoused. To my mind it is this dedication which gives the photographer the moral right to stand in front of other humans with a camera in his hand. I consider any alternative an unwarranted imposition upon the rights and privacy of the subject.
I suppose the single purpose behind every intelligent photograph taken by a photojournalist is to tell; that is, to tell others what we have seen; to pass onto others a piece of information we have obtained by observation and preserved it photographically forever. Allow me to quote Ernst Haas: ’You see what you think, you see what you feel, you are what you see… If with the camera you can make others see it – that is photography.’ I should like to extend this remark by Ernst Haas by adding just one more line, just one line which to a certain type of photographer, myself included, makes all the difference in the world: “If with the camera you can make others feel what you have felt – that is photography.’ To me this capacity to express in photography a personal emotional experience transforms the status of a photographer from that of a person with a camera to that of an artist with a cause.
The uninvolved photojournalist’s pictures will at the very best serve to prop up the copy, at worst ruin it; the involved photographer’s work however will speak entirely for itself and will in no way profit by copy, though copy neatly added will not spoil such a picture; simply, it will not be read.
I believe that the chief value of photography as a means of communication depends entirely on the ability of the camera to arrest life instantly. It thrills me to speculate how the invention of photography has contributed to the speeding up of human reflexes. The rapidly working camera has sharpened man’s capacity to observe and observe rapidly; it has taught many of us to use our minds to classify visual phenomena in an instant of time; to relate our own attitude to that of the person in front of the camera in a split second. This to my mind is the essence of photojournalism.