The model has to give you the moment. It's not you making it. Then give it to you and you capture it.
Photography gives you the opportunity to use your sensibility and everything you are to say something about and be part of the world around you. In this way, you might discover who you are, and with a little luck, you might discover something much larger than yourself.
The photographer, even in fashion and portraiture, has to have a standpoint. It's important to know what you stand for, no? Most people just take pictures but they stand for nothing. They follow trends and don't know why.
If viewing the picture triggers emotions, of whatever kind, and perhaps touches something in you that you find important.
I think that good pictures come from passion, but it’s a different passion than sex. I photograph a woman not because she has a perfect nose or a perfect body, but because of a strong feeling, I have about her. And that feeling comes from her character, from real depth, from being special.
When I’m asked if I follow a method when taking pictures, I reply that I don’t have a method. Everything is simply genuine and real.
For me, every picture is a portrait – no matter what I’m doing. From my very old standpoint, I think everything you do should have a meaning.
You don’t photograph the physiognomy of someone else, but rather the feelings of the two people who were in the room when you took pictures.
Now young photographers don’t even know what it means to use an analog camera. I know film very well and I didn’t ask for a digital camera, I was perfectly happy the way it was. Then with time, I learned that digital is fantastic in many ways except two. First, the digital image is too sharp and loses softness and emotion. In fact, I use Photoshop to reduce the digital effect. Second, the more annoying problem of working with a digital camera is that the process of shooting has become a collaborative effort. I am in front of the subject and whenever I shoot a picture that picture appears on a screen in the other room with ten people around watching and judging and giving advice. This way of shooting completely ruins the intimacy between the photographer and the subject. What interests me is the relationship, because that is where amazing pictures come from and shooting digital prevents me from having this special relationship.
Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.
Your inspiration is better if it comes from many different sources and your sensibilities will transform all those influences and inspiration into your own visual world. It's like reading the book instead of watching the movie.
When you do portrait photography it really can be quite insane. It’s crazy what is possible today. Photoshop is a huge tragedy in that respect as well, no question!
I think a great image, first of all – however it looks – it has to have a purpose. And when it has a purpose, then after, you can tell what aesthetics and many other things. But I think the purpose is the most important thing. And then after the purpose, of course, if it’s a boring, visually boring message, then it’s not really a great picture at all.
For another story, I did not even look through the camera, meaning that I was as surprised as everyone else by what was to be seen on the photos. That was the way I did black-and-white photos on the streets of New York for Vogue in Italy, using a small autofocus camera. That approach completely eliminates all you ever learned about composition. And throwing all the compositional rules overboard ensures everything is slightly less conventional. Since the miniature camera meant that the persons photographed felt less observed the product were interesting images as regards the way they captured the models’ personalities.
I don’t believe in labels or titles. Why should a painter or sculptor who has probably never challenged the rules to be an artist just because his title and an art school education automatically make him one? Isn’t art about breaking rules, about challenging existing systems, isn’t it about discovering meaning in things or situations before others see anything in them? Your work makes you an artist, not your title.
It seems, though, like a lot of photographers sit in their offices or in their studios now and look through fashion magazines and say, “Wow, that story is great! Let’s do something like that!”
For me, a face without a smile is more expressive, tells much more. The disadvantage of smiling is that it takes over all other facial expressions.