The real difference between the aura
that a photograph can have and that of a painting lies in
the different relation to time. The depredations of time
tend to work against paintings. But part of the built-in
interest of photographs, and a major source of their aesthetic
value, is precisely the transformations that time works
upon them, the way they escape the intentions of their makers.
Given enough time, many photographs do aquire an aura. (The
fact that color photographs don't age in the way black-and-white
photographs do may partly explain the marginal status which
color has until very recently in serious photographic taste.
The cold intimacy of color seems to seal off the photograph
from patina.) For while paintings or poems do not get better,
more attractive simply because they are older, all photographs
are interesting as well as touching if they are old enough.
It is not altogether wrong to say that there is no such
thing as a bad photograph only less interesting,
less relevant, less mysterious ones. Photography's adoption
by the museum only accelerates that process which time will
bring about anyway: making all work valuable.
The photographer's intentions do
not determine the meaning of the photograph, which will
have its own career, blown by the whims and loyatiies of
the diverse communities that have use for it.
We have a problem now, because (photographys)
been looked upon in a different vein now, its actually
looked upon as art, which disturbs me greatly. I think every
man and woman and child in the world can take a photograph
now. They cant put claim to being artists. And I dont
see photography as an art. I mean, a lot of photographers,
myself included, goes without saying are very influenced
by art, and I cant help admitting that when I take
photographs I try to compose my pictures, even in the moment
of battle and the moment of crisis, I try to compose them,
not so much in an artistic way, but to make them seem right,
to make them come across structurally. So there is a confusion
and I myself try not to associate myself with art, really.
Al says that every one of the stories
he did and the people he photographed touched his life in
some way. "And all of the stories I did, I found them
within 25 miles of the newspaper's office. I had contacts
all over, and I knew the streets from the days driving the
trucks. I never waited around for stories. I'd go out and
find them." During his years with The Record Al won
over 300 local, state and national awards for his photography.
"Three of those were for assignments the paper gave
me; the rest were storiesI
found on my own."
Freed of technique, it is possible
that photography will now be carried into new fields of
creation. Perhaps one day we shall be able to show the shape
and substance not only of the subject's face but of his
mind, too. Perhaps we shall be able to photograph dimension,
and even time, capturing visions never attempted. But such
prospects must not lead us to think that we have found a
new magic trick and that advancement in camera mechanism
will itself produce better photographs. For a photograph
is the creation of a man and not a product of a machine
however wondrous that machine may be.
In whatever one does, there must
be a relationship between the eye and the heart. One must
come to one's subject in a pure spirit. One must be strict
with oneself. There must be time for contemplation, for
reflection about the world and the people about one. If
one photographs people, it is their inner look that must
There is something appalling about
photographing people. It is certainly some sort of violation;
so if sensitivity is lacking, there can be something barbaric
Of all the media, perhaps still photography
came closet to showing the truth. The best photographs captured
a precise moment, holding it there for inspection, offering
each image as a fragmentary symbol of someone's reality.
By the nature of their ambiguity, those pictures gave viewers
the privilege of using their imaginations to interpret the
reality. The very best pictures needed no captions.
When I first became interested in
photography ... my idea was to have it recognised as one
of the fine arts. Today I don't give a hoot in hell about
that. The mission of photography is to explain man to man
and each man to himself.
Photography, Susan Sontag, Published by Farrar, Straus
and Giroux, New York, 1973, Page 140-141
the Pain Of Others, Susan Sontag, Published by Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, New York, 2003, Page 39
(3) From an online
interview discussing his book: Don
McCullin, Published by Jonathan Cape, 2003
(4) From NikonNet.com. Photojournalists.
(5) Life magazine, Vol.
61, No. 26. Dec. 23, 1966. Page 65.
York Times, August 5, 2004, Arts Section
Cat From Hué, John Laurence, Published by Public
Affairs, New York, 2002, Page 405
Concerned Photographer, Cornell Capa (ed.), Grossman,
New York, 1972