As I immersed myself in the subject, I came across a statement by Henri Cartier-Bresson, explaining that with a camera the discovery of the external world simultaneously reveals the internal world. I found this prospect electrifying: it had to be the key to a meaningful life! (...) The industrialized nations are performing a slow genocide on the peoples of the world by the eviction of peasants from their land, the urbanization of society and the imposition of a uniform consumer culture... no need to weave, sing, dance or even talk when the latest soap hits the dish.
The twentieth century was the time of photography, when almost everything of importance was recorded and considered true because it was photographed. Nowadays nearly anyone can produce a photograph of Ladybird Johnson standing on the grassy knoll with a smoking gun in her hand and no one can prove it’s a fake.
When Bill Gates started Corbis we were told that he needed images to fill those “digital picture frames” in his home, and many found this plausible. But now it’s pretty clear that he’s set out to control the visual history of the twentieth century.
As a photographer you see things first hand, things that haven't been filtered through some process of manipulation, so the more you see, the more —hopefully—you understand. The more you understand, the more you see, and in this process you become wiser.
My view is that a photograph that does not need a caption is a good photograph, but a caption can enhance its meaning. I avoid simply describing the image. My Fleet Street training emphasized the “five Ws” of journalism—who, what, why, where, and when? My favorite, to this day, is “why.”
What we get to think and know about the world is in the hands of a very few... A truly informed public is antithetical to the interests of modern consumer capital.
[Photojournalism] really is the only branch of photography that’s a credit to our profession. We see, we understand; we see more, we understand more.
Virtually the whole of society believes in what they believe not by direct experience but by what they’ve been told. We photographers are in this exalted, privileged position of actually going out to find out for ourselves, and that’s why we’re so dangerous. Because we were there. We saw what happened.
Today, the photographer is sent off to illustrate the preconceptions, usually misconceptions, of the desk-bound editor—an editor biased not by any knowledge of the subject but by the pressure to conform to the standard view ordained by the powers that be. Any deviation from the ‘party line’ is rejected. We are probably the last generation that will accept the integrity of the photograph.
I’ve always understood the “decisive moment” to be the moment in which one captures the significance of a situation, and yes, in the blink of an eye. When one achieves this, looking through the viewfinder, the reward is an on-the-spot confirmation that amounts to a visual orgasm. I never have to “find” pictures later on my contact sheets; I know whether or not I got the shot before the film is developed.
I want to look at a photograph and learn something; I want to receive a message, and the message should be comprehensible not just to an incestuous cabal of “artists,” but to everyone. Real photography is a wonderfully inclusive, democratic medium, whereas “art photography” is more often a private pursuit by conmen.
I’ve always been able to take the picture. I attempt to channel my anger into the tip of my forefinger as I press the shutter. I’ve often said, perhaps tritely, that one can’t focus with tears in one’s eyes. My view is that a photographer who becomes emotional is as useless as a surgeon who faints at the sight of blood. I may have shed pints of tears over what I’ve seen, but only later, when editing and printing the pictures.
...we are there with our cameras to record reality. Once we start modifying that which exists, we are robbing photography of its most valuable attribute.
The only thing we photographers really want more than life, more than sex, more than anything, is to be invisible.
... faking has enjoyed a quantum leap with the advent of computerized manipulation. Now, with digital cameras, there is no “original” to compare... Fraudulent practice is easy and detection difficult, and photography will never be the same again.
Real photography is a wonderfully inclusive, democratic medium, whereas “art photography” is more often a private pursuit by conmen.
The problem with photography is that you can decontextualize war. What does a picture of a wounded body, or a mother clasping her wounded child mean? Why is it happening? I want to know that. I’m not satisfied just photographing little sorts of visual climaxes to a conflict. I want to know what led up to it and what’s going to happen next.
I believe photography owes its status to achieving what no other medium can, capturing the reality of the defining moments of human existence as decisively as possible.
Let’s assume that all the cassettes of monochrome film Cartier-Bresson ever exposed had somehow been surreptitiously loaded with colour film. I’d venture to say that about two thirds of his pictures would be ruined and the remainder unaffected, neither spoiled nor improved. And perhaps one in a thousand enhanced.
I’ve always understood the “decisive moment” to be the moment in which one captures the significance of a situation, and yes, in the blink of an eye. When one achieves this, looking through the viewfinder, the reward is an on-the-spot confirmation that amounts to a visual orgasm.
Journalists should be by their very nature anarchists, people who want to point out things that are not generally approved of. It’s by criticizing that society that humanity has made progress.