All sizes of negatives and printing papers are arbitary, and determined by the manufacturer. The real shape is the circular image by the lens. I have to compose within that circle. Therefore, the problem pf square versus rectangle does not disturb me. It is easy to compose a horizontal or vertical image within a circle. It is possble to compose this either when taking the picture or later in the darkroom. Many times my final picture are square. I do not allow the proportions of the paper to dictate my compostion. I cahnge the proportions if they do not fit my idea of what the picture should be.
I do not direct the sitter – the only thing I try is to help him over his fears and inhibitions. I try to capture what I feel reflects something of his inner life. The main goal for me is not to impose my own ideas of the subject, but rather to get at the psychological truth of the subject and present it in a valid form, a graphic form – but I would always sacrifice design for content.
…“What is the purpose of my photography, of my taking pictures?” What I am trying to capture in the picture is… I’m trying to sum up a personality as much as it is humanly possible. I know it is like the [mathematical constant] “pi.” You never get the complete and final answer, but you can come as close ti it as possible. It seems to me that if I am producing an honest psychological document about a human being, this picture might later become the visual symbol for the entire personality of my subject. In some cases it has worked out like this. For instance my picture of Professor Einstein is now the picture that everybody thinks of when Einstein is mentioned. It was used on the postage stamp and it was used on the cover of many of his biographies. It is probably also one of the deepest and most interesting portraits that i have made.
It is not just something that is there and that we get in our portrait because we happen to have color film in our camera. Color is descriptive and emotional factor of great strength. Its emotional power can be illustrated by the way we use color words to describe moods or characteristics: to feel blue, to see red, to be yellow, etc. There is tremendous difference in characterization between a color portrait made in the cold light of a cloudy day and one made in the reddish glow of the setting sun.