One could think of a person who seems to have two opposing and contradictory sides to his personality; but it turns out that in the end the two sides are complementary. The same happens with an artist's work: deep down, what appear as contradictory sides are merely different registers, different aspects of the reality that the artist inhabits...
Photographic technique is no secret and – provided the interest is there – easily assimilated. But inspiration comes from the soul and when the Muse isn’t around even the best exposure meter is very little help. In their biographies, artists like Michelangelo, da Vinci and Bach said that their most valuable technique was their ability to inspire themselves. This is true of all artists; the moment there is something to say, there becomes a way to say it.
The traditional difficulty of balancing the mechanical with the imaginative schools of photography still operates. In schools of photography meaningful art education is often lacking and on the strength of their technical ability alone students, deprived of a richer artistic training, are sent forth inculcated with the belief that they are creative photographers and artists. It is yet a fact that today, as in the past, the most inspiring and provocative works in photography come as much (and probably more) from those who are in the first place artists.
A well directed sitting will have something of the quality of a good plan - a constant building and development of tension and excitement. The interest of the model and artist should both be carried along in the current of common enthusiasm. To make the sitting move in this way, the artist must work, must give of himself. An artist who finishes a sitting with his respiration, pulse and the part of his hair unaltered, has probably obtained very poor results.
The only thing we know for sure is what we experience. If you look at a photograph of somebody crying, you register grief. But in fact, you don't know what people are experiencing at all. You're always protecting your version of what that emotion is. What is known is only what I know. The only truth I know is my own experience. I don't know what it means to be black. I don't know what it means to be a woman. I don't know what it means to be Cartier-Bresson. So I have to define my work in terms of my own truth. That's what the journey is all about, if you are to use your own instincts. The great wonder is that we each have our own validity, our own mysteries. It's the sharing of those gifts that makes artists artists.
In the 1930’s – 40’s commercial photographers were considered the artists of their times. The scene shifted in the 1950’s – 60’s and the photojournalists who worked for Life and Look magazines were the most celebrated photographic artists. Today photojournalists are no longer in demand to tell us about the world, because TV does it with the evening news. Mass media magazines now use photographers to illustrate stories on movie stars, sports and newsmakers and are no longer the creative galleries for commercial and editorial photography.
The difference bewteen the recorder photographer... and the artist photographer... is that the artist will, by experience and learning... force the camera to paint the imagination...the emotion... the concept and the intent... rather than faithfully and truthfully reproduce an unnatractive and unflattering record.
It has always been my belief that the true artist, like the true scientist, is a researcher using materials and techniques to dig into the truth and meaning of the world in which he himself lives; and what he creates, or better perhaps, brings back, are the objective results of his explorations. The measure of his talent––of his genius, if you will––is the richness he finds in such a life’s voyage of discovery and the effectiveness with which he is able to embody it through his chosen medium.