These days I think the composers of music influence me more than any photographers or visual creators. I see something exciting or lovely and think to myself: 'If Papa Haydn or Wolfgang Amadeus or the red-headed Vivaldi were here with a camera, they'd snap a picture of what's in front of me.' So I take the picture for them.
A photographer from a well know national magazine was assigned to cover the fires at Yellowstone National Park. The magazine wanted to show some of the heroic work of the fire fighters as they battled the blaze. When the photographer arrived, he realized that the smoke was so thick that it would seriously impede or make it impossible for him to photograph anything from ground level. He requested permission to rent a plane and take photos from the air. His request was approved and arrangements were made. He was told to report to a nearby airport where a plane would be waiting for him. He arrived at the airport and saw a plane warming up near the gate. He jumped in with his bag and shouted, "Let's go!'' The pilot swung the little plane into the wind, and within minutes they were in the air. The photographer said, "Fly over the park and make two or three low passes so I can take some pictures." "Why?" asked the pilot. "Because I am a photographer," he responded, "and photographers take photographs." The pilot was silent for a moment; finally he stammered, "You mean you're not the flight instructor?"
...the era of popular photography which began with the introduction of the first Kodak camera in 1888 is that of the anonymous photograph...Both sitter and photographer may be no longer identifiable. Yet...these primative pictures are of great historic significance...Through them we have a detailed picture of everyday life of a kind never previously available.
We tried to present the ordinary in an extraordinary manner. But that’s the paradox because the only thing extraordinary about it was that it was so ordinary. Nobody had ever done it before, deliberately. Now it’s called documentary, which I suppose is all right ... We just took pictures that cried out to be taken.
The image of how power shows itself to the public is important... CNN was an inspiration to do the project in color because power confirms itself through television... I thought it would be interesting to copy the same language (color, TV format). The large color pictures are framed in heavy wooden frames with golden plates and hung slightly higher than normal. So viewers get a sore neck watching these events, this is also the case when looking at paintings of saints in cathedrals.
I've come to realize that I'm a image maker, not an object maker. Images come to me as photographs because I don't have any other way of express them. I have to translate everything into still or moving pictures. I've learned that reality is not important to me. In the end it is the representation of reality that I'm striving to capture.
The picture… will reveal a truth of fact, of feeling, of experience, of aesthetic power, of form, of life itself – and this not only to you but also to one or all who look at it. The picture may even tell different things to different people – but it will tell. This may be a yardstick for the quality of your photograph.
The photographer was thought to be an acute but non-interfering observer – a scribe, not a poet. But as people quickly discovered that nobody takes the same picture of the same thing, the supposition that cameras furnish an impersonal, objective image yielded to the fact that photographs are evidence not only of what’s there but of what an individual sees, not just a record but an evaluation of the world. It became clear that there was not just a simple activity called seeing (recorded by, aided by cameras) but ‘photographic seeing’, which was both a new way for people to see and a new activity for them to perform.
The uninvolved photojournalist’s pictures will at the very best serve to prop up the copy, at worst ruin it; the involved photographer’s work however will speak entirely for itself and will in no way profit by copy, though copy neatly added will not spoil such a picture; simply, it will not be read.
What is a good photograph? I cannot say. A photograph is tied to the time, what is good today may be a cliché tomorrow. The problem of the photographer is to discover his own language, a visual ABC. The picture represents the feelings and point of view of the intelligence behind the camera. This disease of our age is boredom and a good photographer must combat it. The way to do this is by invention – by surprise. When I say a good picture has surprise value I mean that it stimulates my thinking and intrigues me. The best way to achieve surprise quality is by avoiding clichés. Imitation is the greatest danger of the young photographer.
The personality and style of a photographer usually limits the type of subject with which he deals best. For example Cartier-Bresson is very interested in people and in travel; these things plus his precise feeling for geometrical relationships determine the type of pictures he takes best. What is of value is that a particular photographer sees the subject differently. A good picture must be a completely individual expression which intrigues the viewer and forces him to think.
Why do most great pictures look uncontrived? Why do photographers bother with the deception, especially since it so often requires the hardest work of all? The answer is, I think, that the deception is necessary if the goal of art is to be reached: only pictures that look as if they had been easily made can convincingly suggest that beauty is commonplace.
The viewer who sees only a study in the picture of the glass jug illuminated from behind fails to appreciate the masterly composition, the noble purity of the lines, the rich plasticity of the form and consequently also the poetry and beauty of the picture, and still more important, its specifically photographic qualities.
I want my work to become part of our visual history, to enter our collective memory and our collective conscience. I hope it will serve to remind us that history's deepest tragedies concern not the great protagonists who set events in motion but the countless ordinary people who are caught up in those events and torn apart by their remorseless fury. I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.
A newsreel has movment, but the still photograph has permanence. It is a moment of time frozen. The famous picture of the South Vietnam general shooting a terrorist with his own hand in a Saigon street would have meant little flashing by on television screens. As a still picture it stands forever – an accusation of mankind.
NARRATOR: Henry Luce always had a fascination with what he called "picture magic". To introduce his new magazine to the world, he wrote an essay which described the many powers of photography. "To see life. To see the world. To watch the faces of the poor, and the gestures of the proud. To see strange things. Machines, armies, multitudes, and shadows in the jungle. To see, and to take pleasure in seeing. To see and be instructed. To see and be amazed..."
A photographer is a witness. He has a moral duty. Every picture must be true and honest. I believe a photographer’s strength is his ability to accurately record reality. There are photographers who think they are lucky if they find unusual or special subject. But it is never the subject that is so marvelous. It is how alive and real the photographer can make it.
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 only things that distinguish the photographer from everybody else are his pictures: they alone are the basis for our special interest in him. If pictures cannot be understood without knowing details of the artist's private life, then that is a reason for faulting them; major art, by definition, can stand independent of its maker.
To shoot poignant pictures we only need follow the path of our enthusiasm . I believe that this feeling is the universe's way of telling us that we are doing the right thing. The viewing public will always disagree over the intrinsic merits of a particular photograph, but no one can deny the enthusiasm that originally inspired us to capture and offer that image to others.
Like it or not, a photograph is an art form, regardless of subject or style. One of the reasons I can make this generalisation is that as with anything artistic, its not a definitive thing; it means different things to different viewers and is totally subjective. To one viewer it may be crap, to another it may be superb. Just like music, sculpture, painting, the written word or film, it stirs up a different feeling and thought within anyone who looks at a picture. Its not finite like a mathematical formula but totally infinite in its communication.