Home From the Mind of Photoessayist What Photographers And Others Have Said | Page 01, 02, 03

Bill Brandt(1)

It is part of the photographer's job to see more intensely than most people do. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of the child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveller who enters a strange country. Most photographers would feel a certain embarrassment in admitting publicly that they carried within them a sense of wonder, yet without it they would not produce the work they do, whatever their particular field. It is the gift of seeing the life around them clearly and vividly, as something that is exciting in its own right. It is an innate gift, varying in intensity with the individual's temperament and environment.



Danny Lyon(2)

McCoy: In your work, do you become an unobtrusive, invisible, detached photographer or are you totally involved with your subject and his environment?

Lyon: It's not a problem to me. At least, I feel I'm at home enough wherever I'm working that I'm not concerned about being invisible because I'm first of all not invisible and, like I said, I really feel at home where I work so that's the end of my problem. I wouldn't work unless I feel at home. If I wasn't welcome there socially, say, if I didn't ask permission first ... I'm not saying it's right, what I do ... what I did ... anyway. The only problem might be with police or something like that, people who tend to keep me from doing what I want to do. If I'm not wanted, I go away. Do you think we could finish maybe in 10 minutes? I got a truck of gravel sitting out here.




Robert Frank(3)

I guess when one is a visual person one has a fear of the word, it's natural. But I wish I had lost that fear earlier. I never wrote anything down about what I did or what I felt. I just tried to do it with pictures, and in a way I feel sorry. And I haven't taken pictures for 10 years or more.




Henri Cartier-Bresson(4)

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression. I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently the the discovery of the world around us which can mold us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between these two worlds — the one inside us and the one outside us. As the result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we must communicate. But this takes care only of the content of the picture. For me, content connot be seperated from form. By form, I mean a rigorous organization of the interplay of surfaces, lines, and values. It is in this organization alone that our conceptions and emotions become concrete and communicable. In photography, visual organization can stem only from a developed instinct.



Photo Seminars - Henri Cartier-Bresson


Yousuf Karsh(4)

Photography is, to me, more than a means of expression, more than my particular profession — it is a way of life. And if I were asked to choose one word which holds the key to my work I would select 'light' — for light is my language, and it is international, readily understood by any person of any race. It has been my good fortune to welcome before my camera many great men and women who have made their mark on our generation and will find a place in history. I feel that my life's work is to interpret to the best of my ability, the inner strength, the true character, of these personalities, through the medium of photographic portraiture. I can think of no elation equal to that when something close to my ideal is achieved, though necessarily there must always be a spark of what I call 'divine discontent' — the constant striving for near-perfection. In this self-appointed task, which also carries, I believe, a great sense of responsibility, the medium of light is all-important. It is the portraitist's chief tool, and he can never learn enough about it.



Alfred Eisenstaedt(4)

When I took my first picture back in 1912 I had no idea that I would make a career of photography. today, almost 45 years and at least a million pictures later, I am certainly much more experienced, but I often wonder whether and how much I have actually improved since that early beginning. Strange to say I started out as a salon-print photographer. Yet through all the changes in style and subjects, I remember almost every picture I have taken and can recall the circumstances surrounding each of them. In the old days, before I came to the United States, I did not have all the conveniences that I enjoy now. As a Life photographer I am spoiled. A plush laboratory processes all my films and does all my printing and helpful reporters asist me in my picture taking. But, as many a veteran photographer will agree, the old days were really better. I was thirty years free, and most important of all, I was thirty years younger. Yet I can honestly say that I get as much enjoyment and excitement out of taking pictures today as I did when I began. If there is any secret to my career, it is that I have managed to keep my original spirit during all these years of professional life. Every assisgnment I have undertaken, from as essay on Churchill to a story about a day in a dog's life, I have tried to carry out with as much enthisiasm as if it had been my first story. This is why I have sush respect for good amateur photographers. Too many prfessionals think they have learned everything. In actual fact they have allready forgetton much. Once the amateur's naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateir.



Irving Penn(5)

The modern photographer, having, as most creative people, the urge to communicate widely, is inevitably drawn to the medium that offers him the fullest opportunity for that communication. He thus works for publication. He is, in fact, a journalist. . . . For the modern photographer the end product of his efforts is the printed page, not the photographic print.

Notable Photographers - Irving Penn


W. Eugene Smith(6)

Photographic journalism, because of the tremendous audience reached by publication using it, has more influence on public thinking and opinion than any other branch of photography. For these reasons, it is important that the photographer-journalist have (beside the essential mastery of his tools) a strong sense of integrity and the intelligence to understand and present his subject matter accordingly.

Truth and Prejudice: W Eugene Smith (1918-78)

W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund

W. Eugene Smith - Photojournalist



(1) Brandt — The Photography of Bill Brandt, Harry N. Abrams., Publisher, page 91.

(2) U.S. Camera/Camera 35 Annual, 1974. Conversations From A Phone Booth On Route 66. Danny Lyon Interviewed by Dan McCoy. Page 149.

(3) U.S. Camera/Camera 35 Annual, 1974. Uneasy Words While Waiting. Robert Frank Interviewed by Sean Kernan. Page 141.

(4) These comments where from the 1958 vote of the 10 greatest photographers selected by a panel of 243 "outstanding photographers, editors, picture editors, art directors, critics and teachers" in an international poll conducted by Popular Photography magazine. The statements appeared in the May, 1958 issue of that magazine.

(5) From the transcript of the symposium "What is Modern Photography?" held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 20, 1950.

(6) W. Eugene Smith, "Photographic Journalism," Photo Notes, June 1948, pp. 4-5