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

Susan Sontag(1)

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.



Susan Sontag(2)

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.



Don McCullin(3)

We have a problem now, because (photography’s) been looked upon in a different vein now, it’s 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 can’t put claim to being artists. And I don’t see photography as an art. I mean, a lot of photographers, myself included, goes without saying are very influenced by art, and I can’t 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 Paglione(4)

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."



Carl Mydans(5)

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.


Henri Cartier-Bresson(6)

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 be revealed.

There is something appalling about photographing people. It is certainly some sort of violation; so if sensitivity is lacking, there can be something barbaric about it.


John Laurence(7)

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.


Edward Steichen(8)

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.



(1) On Photography, Susan Sontag, Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1973, Page 140-141

(2) Regarding 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.

(6) New York Times, August 5, 2004, Arts Section

(7) The Cat From Hué, John Laurence, Published by Public Affairs, New York, 2002, Page 405

(8) The Concerned Photographer, Cornell Capa (ed.), Grossman, New York, 1972