Everywhere I went people welcomed me with warmth. In friendship they politely expressed their natural apprehension about pictures: "We hope photographs can express the truth". Fortunately, the language of pictures, like the language of friendship, is very straightforward and uncomplicated. Like a helicopter, the photograph takes over where language leaves off, transcends linguistic limits and lands in the heart of the matter.
The still photograph is to moving pictures what poetry is to prose - less comprehensive perhaps, less literal even, yet somehow capable of expressing a deeper truth.
One of the ongoing projects of modern art, and probably its most serious, is to tell what it's really like to be living here now - not what it's like on television or in advertisements, not what it's like to be a cohort, but what it's like to be a man or a woman in that unique body that's always living an odd life. Against the forces of false persuasion the artist offers an undeniable sort of truth, stated in simple human terms, minus the jargon and the emblems of expertise and false authority. It's always a voice and the voice always says: this is how it is for me, and I hope you understand.
A man can watch half an hour of television and think that he's seen a civil war in Africa, the disappearing rain forests in the Amazon and genocide in Bosnia. In truth, he hasn't seen a thing. In truth, he was seated in his armchair and saw images that were presented, accelerated, slowed down and mediated by someone else. You can't learn anything passively. (...) What about still images? Can't they be just as manipulative? No, because they work at a subjective rhythm. You react to a photograph according to your own tempo. A photograph permits a first viewing, and then an individual reflection. It solicits participation, and encourages individuality in interpretation. Television is an autarchy, a dictatorship.
I genuinely believe photography to be at it's most potent when underscored by truth. To contrive is to control, and frankly I'm more interested in observation than direction. Riding the ebb and flow of Sydney's streets, approaching the next corner afresh, never quite knowing what may present itself in the adjoining street. That's the random beauty of street photography. Control has to be a stultifying, creative break. The magic, emotion charged moments are in my experience invariably captured us.
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.
One reason I so deeply care for the camera is just this. So far as it goes... and handled cleanly and literally in its own terms, as an ice-cold, some ways limited, some ways more capable, eye, it is, like the phonograph record and like scientific instruments and unlike any other leverage of art, incapable of recording anything but absolute, dry truth.