I didn’t relate to European photography. It was too poetic and anecdodtal for me.... The kinetic quality of New York, the kids, dirt, madness--I tried to find a photographic style that would come close to it.So I would be grainy and contrasted and black. I’d crop, blur, play with the negatives. I didn’t see clean technique being right for New York. I could imagine my pictures lying in the gutter like the New York Daily News.
I came from the outside, the rules of photography didn't interest me... there were things you could do with a camera that you couldn't do with any other medium... grain, contrast, blur, cock-eyed framing, eliminating or exaggerating grey tones and so on. I thought it would be good to show what's possible, to say that this is as valid of a way of using the camera as conventional approaches.
I spent six months in New York at that time  and thought I had a book. So I went to publishers here, in New York, and got nowhere. Most of the people who looked at the photographs looked at the work and said “What kind of book is this? You make New York look like a slum.” I said, “Yeah, New York is a slum.” “What kind of New York are you showing me, everything black and awful?” I said, “No, you live on Fifth Avenue and your office is on Madison. You’ve never been to the Bronx, you’ve never been to Queens or Flatbush. This is the real New York.”
I think there are two kinds of photography—Jewish photography and goyish photography. If you look at modern photography, you will find, on the one hand the Weegees, the Diane Arbuses, the Robert Franks—funky photographs. And then you have the people who go out in the woods. Ansel Adams, Weston. It’s like black and white jazz.
Quite deliberately, I did the opposite to what was usually done. I thought that an absence of framing, chance, use of the accidental and a different relationship with the camera would make it possible to liberate the photographic image. There are some things that only a camera can do. The camera is full of possibilities as yet unexploited. But that is what photography is all about. The camera can surprise us. We must help it do so.