It is very hard to say where you're going until you get there. That kind of thing is based very much on instinct. As a photographer, one of the most important lessons I have learnt is that you have to learn to listen to and trust your own instinct. It has helped to guide me - this far at least.
Many people in this world do jobs that are dangerous and where their life is at risk and they feel that there is some kind of value to their job I guess that's how I feel about what I do. There is a social function to documentary photography that is very important and it requires people to take risks.
The pictures that were coming from Vietnam were showing us what was really happening on the ground level. It was in contradiction to what our political and military leaders were telling us. They were straight forward documentary images. A powerful indictment of the war, of how cruel and unjust it was. When I finally decided what to do with my life, it was to follow in that tradition.
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The worst thing is to feel that as a photographer I'm benefiting from someone else's tragedy. This idea haunts me. It's something I have to reckon with every day, because I know that if I ever allow genuine compassion to be overtaken by personal ambition, I will have sold my soul. The only way I can justify my role is to have respect for the other person's predicament. The extent to which I do that is the extent to which I become accepted by the other and to that extent I can accept myself.
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I want my work to become part of our visual history, to enter our collective memory and our collective conscience. I hope it will serve to remind us that history's deepest tragedies concern not the great protagonists who set events in motion but the countless ordinary people who are caught up in those events and torn apart by their remorseless fury. I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.
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But everyone cannot be there, and that is why photographers go there - to show them, to reach out and grab them and make them stop what they are doing and pay attention to what is going on - to create pictures powerful enough to overcome the diluting effects of the mass media and shake people out of their indifference - to protest and by the strength of that protest to make others protest.