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..."
(...) Although there a sense which the camera does indeed capture reality, not just interpret it, photographs are as much an interpretation of the world as painting and drawings are. Those occasions when the taking of photographs is relatively undiscriminating, promiscuous, or self-effacing do not lessen the didacticism of the whole enterprise.
Traditionally, photography has dealt with recording the world as it is found. Before photography appeared the fine artists of the time, the painters and sculptors, concerned themselves with rendering reality with as much likeness as their skill enabled. Photography, however, made artistic reality much more available, more quickly and on a much broader scale.
To us, the difference between the photographer as an individual eye and the photographer as an objective recorder seems fundamental, the difference often regarded, mistakenly, as separating photography as art from photography as document. But both are logical extensions of what photography means: note-taking on, potentially, everything in the world, from every possible angle.
The photographer sees the world as a child sees the bits of glass in a kaleidoscope. If he has a camera with which he can secure these ever-changing combinations, he is then able to look on them again and again, and he has the further pleasure of pleasing others with the sight of things which he, with perhaps unusual opportunities, was able to see, which his friends would otherwise not ever be able to.
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.