Sometimes a photographer is a passenger, sometimes a person who stays in one place. What he watches changes constantly, but his watching never changes. He doesn't examine like a doctor, defend like a lawyer, analyze like a scholar, support like a priest, make people laugh like a comedian, or intoxicate like a singer. He only watches. This is enough. No, this is all I can do. All a photographer can do is watch. Therefore, a photographer has to watch all the time. He must face the object and make his entire body an eye. A photographer is someone who wagers everything on seeing.
A photographer is a witness. He has a moral duty. Every picture must be true and honest. I believe a photographer's strength is his ability to accurately record reality. There are photographers who think they are lucky if they find unusual or special subject. But it is never the subject that is so marvelous. It is how alive and real the photographer can make it.
I was fooling around one day and looking at Yahoo! Jobs. I typed in "photo" and, of course, what comes up is "One hour photo lab" or "Be a photographer in Disneyland" or jobs that no one really wants as a photographer. I saw, by chance, this ad that said, "Wanted: Photographer for premieres and Hollywood events" and I thought, "This can not be real. This is ridiculous. No one advertizes this!" I was really suspect about it.
A recurrent question about photography is how much self expression it allows the photographer. There are two standard positions, each corresponding to a different location oh photographic skill. The opposition is neatly summed up in Bioy Casares's novel The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata (1989). The hero Nicolasito Almanza declares: 'I am convinced that all of photography depends on the moment we press the release [... ] I believe that you're a photographer if you know exactly when to press the release.' In making this declaration he is responding to the opinion expressed by Mr Gruter, owner of a photographic laboratory: '[... ] sometimes I wonder if the true work of the photographer doesn't begin in the dark room, amid the trays and the enlarger.
Hence the detail which interests me is not, or at least is not strictly intentional, and probably must not be so; it occurs in the field of the photographed thing like a supplement that is at once inevitable and delightful; it does not necessarily attest to the photographer's art; it says only that the photographer was there, or else, still more simply, that he could not (i)not(i) photograph the partial object at the same time as the total object (how could Keresz have 'separated' the dirt road from the violinist walking on it?). The Photographer's 'second sight' does not consist in 'seeing' but in being there. And above all, imitating Orpheus, he must not turn back to look at what he is leading - what hi is giving to me!
There were just moments of the punk scene and I realized that I had to capture it. There was also this photographer in our preschool - I went to a Montessori school in Baltimore, Maryland - and they had this photographer come and take all these incredible photographs. They looked like they were from Life magazine.
The images which the [press] photographer has filtered from reality, whether particular events or the anguish of human reactions to them, already bear a stamp of authenticity which the photographer is powerless to alter by one jot or tittle; the meaning of the objects, by a process of purification, itself becomes the theme of the work.
Billions of photos are shot every year, and about the toughest thing a photographer can do is invent an original, deeply personal, instantly recognizable visual style. In the early nineties, Wolfgang Tillmans did just that, transforming himself into a new kind of artist-photographer of modern life.
Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize.
I always feel I had a very lucky life. For example, I sure didn't want to go in the army: when I was drafted in the Korean War, I wanted to go as a photographer. But luckily, they put me in the infantry - luckily because the official photographer was photographing the medal awarding and all the official situations.
When people call me a photographer, I always feel like something of a charlatan""at least in Japanese. The word shashin, for photograph, combines the characters sha, meaning to reflect or copy, and shin, meaning truth, hence the photographer seems to entertain grand delusions of portraying truth.
One view of photography is that it is a zen-like act which captures reality with its pants down - so that the vital click shows the anatomy bare. In this, the photographer is invisible but essential. A computer releasing the shutter would always miss the special moment that the human sensibility can register. For this work, the photographer's instinct is his aid, his personality a hindrance.
Any photographer worth his/her salt - that is, any photographer of professional caliber, in control of the craft, regardless of imagistic bent - can make virtually anything look good. Which means, of course, that she or he can make virtually anything look bad - or look just about any way at all. After all, that is the real work of photography: making things look, deciding how a thing is to appear in the image.
A. D. Coleman
Composition is what's similar between being photographer and director. As a photographer, you're sort of doing everything - you're directing the lights and you're framing and you're moving around. The hardest thing to learn as a director is how cameras have to move. You have to have patience, you have to learn how to look through the lens and then you have to learn to combine all of the compartments into one great image.
To us, the difference between the #"Ž photographer as an individual eye and the photographer as an objective recorder seems fundamental, the difference often regarded, mistakenly, as separating photography as art from #"Ž photography as document. But both are logical extensions of what photography means: note-taking on, potentially, everything in the world, from every possible angle.
The photographer discovers himself/herself being photographed and we can guess he is uncomfortable. Unsuccessfully he/she tries to recompose his posture and to look like a photographer taking photos. But no, he is and continues to be a spectator. The momentous fact of being photographed leads him to becoming an actor. And, as always, actors must assume a role, which is only an elegant way of avoiding to say they must choose sides, choose a faction, take an option.
Different levels of photography require different levels of understanding and skill. A "press the button, let George do the rest" photographer needs little or no technical knowledge of photography. A zone system photographer takes more responsibility. He visualizes before he presses the button, and afterwards calibrates for predictable print values.
A photographer's eye is perpetually evaluating. A photographer can bring coincidence of line simply by moving his head a fraction of a millimetre. He can modify perspectives by a slight bending of the knees. By placing the camera closer to or farther from the subject, he draws a detail. But he composes a picture in very nearly the same amount of time it takes to click the shutter, at the speed of a reflex action.
The personality and style of a photographer usually limits the type of subject with which he deals best. For example Cartier-Bresson is very interested in people and in travel; these things plus his precise feeling for geometrical relationships determine the type of pictures he takes best. What is of value is that a particular photographer sees the subject differently. A good picture must be a completely individual expression which intrigues the viewer and forces him to think.
Photography has an amazing ability to capture the fine detail of surface textures. But far too often these intricate patterns are loved by the photographer for their own sake. The richness of texture fascinates the eye and the photographer falls easy prey to such quickly-caught complexities. The designs mean nothing in themselves and are merely pictorially attractive abstractions. A central problem in contemporary photography is to bring about a wider significance in purely textural imagery.
I work in several different groups of pictures which act on and with each other - ranging from several abstracted manners to a form for the surreal. I have been called a preacher - but, in reality, I'm more generally philosophical. I have never made an abstracted photograph without content. An educated background in Zen influences all of my photographs. It has been said that my work resembles, more closely than any photographer, Le Douanier Rousseau - working in a fairly isolated area and feeding mostly on myself - I feel that I am a primitive photographer.
Ralph Eugene Meatyard
No matter how much crap you gotta plow through to stay alive as a photographer, no matter how many bad assignments, bad days, bad clients, snotty subjects, obnoxious handlers, wigged-out art directors, technical disasters, failures of the mind, body, and will, all the shouldas, couldas, and wouldas that befuddle our brains and creep into our dreams, always remember to make room to shoot what you love. It's the only way to keep your heart beating as a photographer.
To get from the tangible to the intangible (which mature artists in any medium claim as part of their task) a paradox of some kind has frequently been helpful. For the photographer to free himself of the tyranny of the visual facts upon which he is utterly dependent, a paradox is the only possible tool. And the talisman paradox for unique photography is to work "the mirror with a memory" as if it were a mirage, and the camera is a metamorphosing machine, and the photograph as if it were a metaphor... Once freed of the tyranny of surfaces and textures, substance and form [the photographer] can use the same to pursue poetic truth" (Minor White, Newhall, 281).
Photography is inherently an analytic discipline. Where a painter starts with a blank canvas and builds a picture, a photographer starts with the messiness of the world and selects a picture. A photographer standing before houses and streets and people and trees and artifacts of a culture imposes an order on the scene - simplifies the jumble by giving it structure. He or she imposes this order by choosing a vantage point, choosing a frame, choosing a moment of exposure, and by selecting a plane of focus.