Several of my family members were tortured and shot under Klaus Barbi's orders. At his trial I found myself only yards away from this monstrous induvidual, now a timid, soft-looking old gentleman. I felt I could trust my grandchildren to him. It showed me how desceptive appearances can be.
I was torn between the fear of getting too close to people and another force that egged me on to get a closer look.
For me, the photographer is a witness. His job is to record real events rather than to stage or create something in front of the camera.
Photography should not try to prove anything, but it can convince when it is not trying to convince anyone. It can’t change the world, but it can show what the world is like, especially as it changes.
Chim told me not to follow too closely the advice of Capa, and Capa told me not to take any notice of Henri’s advice. So I was a bit mixed up and went to see George Rodger... and he said, “Don’t listen to any of them, only to me.”
Doubt always hovers nearby, but I take photographs the way a musician hums. Looking is like breathing. So when luck turns my way and offers me a good picture, joy is surely nigh.
If taste for life diminishes, the photographs pale, because taking pictures is like savoring life at 125th of a second.
Choice or freedom of choice is just an existential concern. But for photographers, it’s a lifetime’s preoccupation.
The eye is made to see and not to think.... A good photograph is a surprise. How could we plan and foresee a surprise? We just have to be ready.
For me photography is not an intellectual process. It is a visual one.... Whether we like it or not, we are involved in a sensual business.
The idea of photography as evidence is pure bullshit. A photo is no more proof of any reality than what you may hear being said by someone in a bus. We only record details, small fragments of the world. This cannot allow any judgement, even if the sum of these details may convey a point of view.
Photography must not try to be persuasive. It cannot change the world, but it can show the world, especially when it is changing.
I’ve always been shy, and I’ve always been trying to ignore the people I was photographing so that they ignore me.
[Turning a photograph upside down is] the best way to judge a photo. That way you see how it’s really composed.
[Photographers] shouldn’t think of themselves as witnesses, only because they walk around with a camera. Forget about witnessing. Say to yourself that photography is a little everyday job. Stick to your curiosity, live it as a passion, nourish it by giving up as many ties as possible with your home place, because ties make you worry, and when you worry you don’t see so well.
Rather than a profession, photography has always been a passion for me, a passion closer to an obsession.
My vision of the world is simple. Tomorrow, each new day, I want to see the city, take new photographs, meet people and wander alone.
My first reaction at the very idea of this interview was to refuse to talk about photography. Why dissect and comment a process that is essentially a spontaneous reaction to a surprise?
I’m often asked: Did you get what you wanted? But how should I know what I wanted? A photo is an encounter, a surprise.
My obsession is with photographing life at its most intense as intensely as possible. It’s a mania, a virus as strong as my instinct to be free.