The difficulty with color is to go beyond the fact that it's color – to have it be not just a colorful picture but really be a picture about something. It's difficult. So often color gets caught up in color, and it becomes merly decorative. Some photographers use [ it ] brilliantly to make visual statements combining color and content; otherwise it is empty.
To touch on people's lives [ in a way they ] haven't been touched on before, it´s fascianting. You know, it's one thing if [ a celebrity ] has an incredible character and you're really going to be able to delve into their personality – that's great. But you can never get real purity if people have been spoiled by the camera and don't trust you. I like feeling that I'm able to be a voice for those people who aren't famous, the people that don't have the great opportunities.
I think you reveal yourself by what you choose to photograph, but I prefer photographs that tell more about the subject. There's nothing much interesting to tell about me; what's interesting is the person I'm photographing, and that's what I try to show. ... I think each photographer has a point of view and a way of looking at the world... that has to do with your subject matter and how you choose to present it. What's interesting is letting people tell you about themselves in the picture.
No, I don't think you're ever an objective observer. By making a frame you're being selective, then you edit the pictures you want published and you're being selective again. You develop a point of view that you want to express. You try to go into a situation with an open mind, but then you form an opinion, and you express it in your photographs.
People often ask me what makes a great image. That's an almost impossible question to answer. Sometimes the obvious can make a great image. Sometimes a photograph works because of its subtlety or what is excluded from the frame. For me, a great image involves a combination of strong content and excellent design.
If you do great pictures it is fine art, no matter what. The galleries manipulate things, the market. If you deliberately set out to be an artist, that is the wrong way to think as a photographer. The work should be great, and that is all that is important. If people want it, and want it to put on their walls, that's great too.
A good print is really essential. I want to take strong documentary photographs that are as good technically as any of the best technical photographs, and as creative as any of the best fine-art photographs. [That is doubly important because] I don't want to just be a photo essayist; I'm more interested in single images.... once that I feel are good enough to stand on their own.
What's more frustrating than magazines giving less and less space is that they tell you what they want. Not LIFE, but some magazines actually want you to be an illustrator, and I don't want to be an illustrator -- I don't enjoy those assignments. You know, I want to have a change to be a real part of the creative process and not just a technician who clicks the camera.
Everyone asks me how I get my subjects to open up to me. There’s no formula to it. It’s just a matter of who you are and how you talk to people – of being yourself. Your subjects will trust you only if you’re confident about what you’re doing. They can sense that immediately. I’m really bothered by photographers who first approach a subject without a camera, try to establish a personal realationship, and only then get out their cameras. It’s deceptive. I think you should just show up with a camera, to make your intentions clear. People will either accept you or they won’t.
I like the idea of being able to capture a moment in time, a moment of reality, but all that has changed now with people being able to Photoshop images so much. You don't know what is real any more and what isn't. But I am an analog photographer and it is about capturing the moment of reality. It hasn't changed for me: I shoot film and I will continue to shoot film. I think it is more beautiful. It is the reason I became a photographer. I am not an illustrator; a lot of the digital, Photoshopped photography is what I would call illustration, not photography. With that kind of work the post-production guy is probably the most important guy in the process, not the photographer.