A photograph is what it appears to be. Already far from 'reality' because of its silence, lack of movement, two-dimensionality and isolation from everything outside the rectangle, it can create another reality, an emotion that did not exist in the 'true' situation. It's the tension between these two realities that lends it strength.
It seems to me that a photograph— even a straight journalistic photograph— is already several degrees removed from reality: it's still, silent, two-dimensional, limited by a rectangle, and, in my case, at least. black-and-white. I feel free, therefore, to use reality as a starting point, and to create situations in my pictures that are not necessarily faithful to what was actually going on. I hope to suggest— sensually. visually— another reality, dealing with love, hate, terror and other aspects of human relations. it's the tension between these two realities. between what was happening and what seems to have been happening— that, frozen into a picture, creates the humour and the power of photography.
On my first round, going from zero stars to one star, I’m on average eliminating two-thirds of the pictures. [...] It could be that I’m keeping all of them or keeping none of them, but on average, two-thirds go out. And then I have to go from one star to two stars, so that’s another cull. To three stars and then if necessary four or five. It’s a process of elimination and you get the same satisfaction. A whole lot of crap – the first time around is really difficult because you see how many lousy, lousy, lousy pictures you’ve taken – and then it gets better and better, it gets more interesting, hopefully, if you have some good pictures. You keep on refining it until you get to purify the selection down to just the gold that you didn’t expect [or that] you didn’t suspect was even there in the first place.
I capture reality, never pose it. But once captured, is it still reality? I've always tried to play with the false impression of reality, with the ambiguity of appearances. Things are what they seem to be, or maybe something else. I use people as unconscous actors in little dramas they don't know they're in. These pictures are about Earthlings, but I'll let you in on a secret: I'm an Earthling myself.
The photograph is completely abstracted from life, yet it looks like life. That is what has always excited me about photography.
I prefer the difficult path of finding unexpected things and wrestling them into a meaningful drama in the viewfinder.