How foolish of me to believe that it would be that easy. I had confused the appearance of trees and automobiles, and people with a reality itself, and believed that a photograph of these appearances to be a photograph of it. It is a melancholy truth that I will never be able to photograph it and can only fail. I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing.
One of the magical things about photography is the transformation that takes place when you photograph something. Something that inherently has very little going for it in terms of the interest you take in it, can become infinitely more interesting when rendered as a photograph. It's no longer a building. It's a photograph.
A photograph never grows old. You and I change, people change all through the months and years but a photograph always remains the same. How nice to look at a photograph of mother or father taken many years ago. You see them as you remember them. But as people live on, they change completely. That is why I think a photograph can be kind.
If you look at a photograph, and you think, 'My isn't that a beautiful photograph,' and you go on to the next one, or 'Isn't that nice light?' so what? I mean what does it do to you or what's the real value in the long run? What do you walk away from it with? I mean, I'd much rather show you a photograph that makes demands on you, that you might become involved in on your own terms or be perplexed by.
As far as the surface is concerned - oil on canvas, conventionally applied - my pictures have little to do with the original photograph. They are totally painting (whatever that may mean). On the other hand, they are so like the photograph that the thing that distinguished the photograph from all other pictures remains intact.
This is a photograph, so it is as you see: there are no lies and no deceptions. One can detect here, elevated to an incomparably higher level, the same pathetic emotional appeal that lies concealed in every fake spiritualist photograph, every pornographic photograph; one comes to suspect that the strange, disturbing emotional appeal of the photographic art consists solely in that same repeated refrain: this is a true ghost... this is a photograph, so it is as you see: there are no lies, no deceptions.
You only have to start saying of something : 'Ah, how beautiful ! We must photograph it !' and you are already close to the view of the person who thinks that everything that is not photographed is lost, as if it never existed, and therefore in order to really live you must photograph as much as you can, and to photograph as much as you can you must either live in the most photographable way possible, or else consider photographable every moment of your life.
The minute you start saying something, 'Ah, how beautiful! We must photograph it!' you are already close to view of the person who thinks that everything that is not photographed is lost, as if it had never existed, and that therefore, in order really to live, you must photograph as much as you can, and to photograph as much as you can you must either live in the most photographable way possible, or else consider photographable every moment of your life. The first course leads to stupidity; the second to madness.
For the photograph's immobility is somehow the result of a perverse confusion between two concepts: the Real and the Live: by attesting that the object has been real, the photograph surreptitiously induces belief that it is alive, because of that delusion which makes us attribute to Reality an absolute superior, somehow eternal value; but by shifting this reality to the past ('this-has-been'), the photograph suggests that it is already dead.
I think it is quite wrong to photograph, for example, Garbo, if she doesn't want to be photographed. Now I would have loved to photograph her, but she obviously didn't want to be photographed so I didn't follow it up. Then somebody will photograph her walking down the street because she has to walk down the street, and I mind that sort of intrusion. I think this is horrible.
The way in which the photograph records experience is also different from the way of language. Language makes sense only when it is presented as a sequence of propositions. Meaning is distorted when a word or sentence is, as we say, taken out of context; when a reader or listener is deprived of what was said before, and after. But there is no such thing as a photograph taken out of context, for a photograph does not require one. In fact, the point of photography is to isolate images from context, so as to make them visible in a different way.
Between two fantasy alternatives, that Holbein the Younger had lived long enough to have painted Shakespeare or that a prototype of the camera had been invented early enough to have photographed him, most Bardolators would choose the photograph. This is not just because it would presumably show what Shakespeare really looked like, for even if the photograph were faded, barely legible, a brownish shadow, we would probably still prefer it to another glorious Holbein. Having a photograph of Shakespeare would be like having a nail from the True Cross.
Yet it seems so easy to take a photograph! One forgets that, apart from the technical aspects, photography can be a mental creation and the affirmation of a personality. What is marvelous about a photograph is that its possibilities are infinite; there aren't any subjects 'done to death'.
After I have photographed the way I like to, I feel as I might if I had been making love all day, marvelous and exhausted and wanting to collapse on the floor in a heap. That's why I can't photograph just anybody, and why it's so hard to photograph people on assignment; it's like going to bed with someone not of my choosing.
The decision as to when to photograph, the actual click of the shutter, is partly controlled from the outside, by the flow of life, but it also comes from the mind and the heart of the artist. The photograph is his vision of the world and expresses, however subtly, his values and convictions.
Photographs bear witness to a human choice being exercised in a given situation. A photograph is a result of the photographer's decision that it is worth recording that this particular event or this particular object has been seen. If everything that existed were continually being photographed, every photograph would become meaningless.
If you could see a photograph of what it took to make an advertising photograph - things you don't think about, like the photo assistant carefully arranging the meatballs - the degree of unnaturalness would be astonishing. Yet it produces an image that looks natural, and is orchestrated to provoke basic emotional responses.
The Photograph belongs to that class of laminated objects whose two leaves cannot be separated without destroying them both: the windowpane and the landscape, and why not: Good and Evil, desire and its object: dualities we can conceive but not perceive... Whatever it grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible: it is not it that we see.
While we cannot describe its appearance (the equivalent), we can define its function. When a photograph functions as an Equivalent we can say that at that moment, and for that person the photograph acts as a symbol or plays the role of a metaphor for something that is beyond the subject photographed.
The photograph is literally an emanation of the referent. From a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here; the duration of the transmission is insignificant; the photograph of the missing being, as Sontag says, will touch me like the delayed rays of a star.
Any photograph has multiple meanings: indeed, to see something in the form of a photograph is to encounter a potential object of fascination. The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: "There is the surface. Now think "" or rather feel, intuit "" what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way.' Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy
Most photographers go and photograph something that they see, that exists, and that somebody else has created - they document it. But fashion photographers have to create what they're going to photograph. We have to go into the thought and build it up, get a girl, get a guy, get a situation, get the house, get the decor. It's the meaning of the word photography: "writing with light."
there is this one photograph... that is just beautiful. it would be impossible to describe how beautiful it is, but i'll try. if you listen to the song "asleep," and you think about those pretty weather days that make you remember things, and you think about the prettiest eyes you've known, and you cry and the person holds you back, then i think you will see the photograph.
[When] I am taking a photograph, I am conscious that I am constructing images rather than taking snapshots. Since I do not take rapid photographs it is in this respect like a painting which takes a long time where you are very aware of what you are doing in the process. Exposure is only the final act of making the image as a photograph.
... I'm sort of a nervous person with the camera, so I will just shoot arbitrarily until I can focus and compose something, and then I make a shot. So generally, in [the] proof sheets, there are only three or four really concentrated efforts to take a photograph. It's not like a professional kind of person who sets it up so every photograph looks really cool.
While a painting, even one that meets photographic standards of resemblance, is never more than the stating of an interpretation, a photograph is never less than the registering of an emanation (light waves reflected by objects)- a material vestigate of its subject in a way that no painting can be... Having a photograph of Shakespeare would be like having a nail from the True Cross.
I came across a photograph of him not long ago... his black face, the long snout sniffing at something in the air, his tail straight and pointing, his eyes flashing in some momentary excitement. Looking at a faded photograph taken more than forty years before, even as a grown man, I would admit I still missed him.
I find that my entire life has come to me, and things happened without me planning them. You know, I never asked to photograph Princess Diana, and that made me more famous than I wanted. I never asked to photograph Madonna, and that pushed me to another level. There are things that just take you into the limelight.
To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder - a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.
The photographer Ruth Bernhard used to tell me that this is like asking somebody how they evolved their signature. It is not something I've ever worked on consciously. I think style is just the end result of personal experience. It would be problematic for me to photograph in another style. I'm drawn to places and subject matter that have personal connections for me and I photograph in a way that seems right. Where does it all come from, who knows?
I think I am most fond of the unseen part. I mean that the various cultural experiences that I go through, and the behavioral aspects of getting the work done, are just as important as the installation and the photograph. So, for me, the relationship between the two is more about hybridism and the search for an ideal form that I'm never going to arrive at. The installation and the photograph are mere approximations of this ideal.
The photograph, then, becomes a representation of a representation of a disease that represents. In other words, in order to produce the most perfect images of hysteria, the hysteric - a woman whose illness simulates the symptoms of other diseases - was transformed, through hypnosis, into an artificial hysteric who perfectly simulated the simulations of hysteria. The medical photograph becomes a copy of a copy of a copy, a representation so far removed from the original that all duplicitous traits, were easily erased, leaving the deranged and chaotic nature of the original far behind. The photograph succeeded in turning the hysteric into a wholly artificial being, literally a flat, framed, unmoving image.
I think I've said this before many times""that photography allows you to learn to look and see. You begin to see things you had never paid any attention to. And as you photograph, one of the benefits is that the world becomes a much richer, juicier, visual place. Sometimes it is almost unbearable "" it is too interesting. And it isn't always just the photos you take that matters. It is looking at the world and seeing things that you never photograph that could be photographs if you had the energy to keep taking pictures every second of your life.
Because each photograph is only a fragment, its moral and emotional weight depends on where it is inserted. A photograph changes according to the context in which it is seen: thus Smith's Minamata photographs will seem different on a contact sheet, in a gallery, in a political demonstration, in a police file, in a photographic magazine, in a book, on a living-room wall. Each o these situations suggest a different use for the photographs but none can secure their meaning.
But I always liked the fact that you get these totally unacceptable images, but they're taken by a really expensive photographer, with great light, and in terms of the quality of the photograph it's a great photograph, but in terms of imagery it's unacceptable, and I like that contradiction.
Ultimately - or at the limit - in order to see a photograph well, it is best to look away or close your eyes. 'The necessary condition for an image is sight, 'Janouch told Kafka; and Kafka smiled and replied: 'We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.
I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft carrier [actually, it was in an anti-aircraft gun emplacement, not a carrier], which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. [Actually, that was her intention in posing for the photograph the way she did.] It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.
I could feel myself changing physically. It was like something dropped out of the sky. Seeing her on the fire escape had given me a certain feeling, and then when I saw the photograph of her, it gave me a similar feeling. And I thought that was an incredibly powerful thing - that a photograph could give you a feeling that was similar to a feeling you had in the physical world. Nobody could've told me that. I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life.