On Photography & Art
The difference between the casual impression and the intensified image is about as great as that separating the average business letter from a poem. If you choose your subject selectively – intuitively – the camera can write poetry.
Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.
Of all the subjects you can point a camera at, the land is, for me, the most demanding genre in photography.
I am only interested in art that is in some way concerned with truth. I could not care less whether it is abstract or what form it takes…….My object in painting pictures is to try and move the senses by giving an intensification of reality…….I think art is not called art for nothing; it is a deliberately wrought thing……What is on your paper or canvas is what you actually leave.
You don’t take a photograph, you make it.
Imagination is a quality that Lucien Freud values highly, like liveliness …… A great deal of what is normally thought of as intelligence …. Is actually imagination – that is, an ability to see things as they truly are.
You wait for your eye to sort of “turn on,” for the elements to fall into place and that ineffable rush to occur, a feeling of exultation when you look through that ground glass, counting ever so slowly, clenching teeth and whispering to Jessie to holdstillholdstillholdstillholdstill and just knowing that it will be good, that it is true. Like the one true sentence that Hemingway writes about in A Moveable Feast, that incubating purity and grace that happens, sometimes, when all the parts come together.
When one is thinking visually there are no words, there are colors, there are forms, there are shapes, there are relationships, there are all things that are visual but there are no words. No words.
Art is the expression of imagination, not the duplication of reality.
Photography, at its best, is not art; photography is photography.
The person is of no importance. It is the picture that is important…
A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said, “I love your pictures; you must have a fantastic camera.” He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: “That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.”
Photography is the art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…….I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.
Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.
Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work.
In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.
You must photograph where you are involved; where you are overwhelmed by what you see before you; where you hold your breath while releasing the shutter, not because you are afraid of jarring the camera, but because you are seeing with your guts wide open to the sweet pain of an image that is part of your life.
The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But you have to SEE.
Art is art whatever it is called…….Appearing anywhere, oblivious of time, we know it when we hear it, see it, clear as recognition.
Light is the faithful archivist of time.
Form, feeling,……structure and detail……technique and sensibility: It must all come together.
I believe this power of seeing the world as fresh and strange lies hidden in every human being. In most of us it is dormant. Yet is it there… . Vicariously, through another person’s eyes, men and women can see the world anew. It is shown to them as something interesting and exciting. There is given to them again a sense of wonder.
Recording unfelt facts by acquired rule, results in sterile inventory. To see the Thing Itself is essential: the quintessence revealed direct. This then: to photograph a rock, have it look like a rock, but be more than a rock.
In my view photography has not changed since its origins, except in technical aspects……the chief requirement is to be fully involved in this reality which we delineate in the viewfinder…….Without the participation of intuition, sensibility, and understanding, photography is nothing……Photography appears to be a simple matter, but it demands powers of concentration combined with mental enthusiasm and discipline.
Henri Cartier Bresson
As I walked and gawked I added everything I saw to my memory’s palimpsest of the landscape……
The purpose of Art is to convey the truth of a thing, not to be the truth itself.
Sylvie Beresford Todd
There is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
T. S. Eliot
All creative art must rise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place.
D. H. Lawrence
Working outdoors – whether with watercolors, pencil, or camera – offered artists a chance to commune with the native soil as they worked to move beyond realism and description to communicate some texture or presence that was genuine to the experience of place.
What we professional liars hope to serve is truth. I’m afraid the pompous word for that is art. Picasso himself said it. Art, he said, is a lie, a lie that makes us realize the truth. Reality? It’s the toothbrush waiting at home for you in its glass, a bus ticket, a paycheck, and the grave.
To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand. This is the sport, the luxury, special to the intellectual man. The gesture characteristic of his tribe consists in looking at the world with eyes wide open in wonder. Everything in the world is strange and marvelous to well-open eyes……. which leads the intellectual man through life in the perpetual ecstasy of the visionary. His special attribute is the wonder of the eyes. Hence it was that the ancients gave Minerva her owl, the bird with ever-dazzled eyes.
Jose Ortega y Gasset
But I guess I’ll keep on trying, for the same reason that’s kept me going before, which is this: People don’t realize that ultimately in this life, aesthetics really count.
Less is more.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
The success of the masterpiece seems to lie not so much in their freedom from faults – indeed we tolerate the grossest errors in them all – but in the immense persuasiveness of a mind which has completely mastered its perspective.
He who works with his hands is a labourer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
Francis of Assisi
Photography for me is a way of seeing things from another angle……I realized I didn’t want to compose pictures. I wanted to find them.
It is as true today as it ever was. He who seeks beauty shall find it.
The greatest tool at our command is the very thing that is photography. Light, Light is our paintbrush and it is a most willing tool in the hands of one who studies it with sufficient care.
There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was also the age of Shakespeare. And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a new frontier for American art.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
I follow the light. If it’s a bright day, I’ll go in the prairies. If it’s cloudy, I’ll go into the woods. I let the light tell me what to do. In other words, I let nature present itself.
I want photographs to be a mystery, an interpretation, a catalyst for one’s imagination….we fill all our time up with noise and chaos, so I hope a viewer can enter into a photograph and feel the beauty of this place, the calmness, the tranquility … . I enjoy places that have mystery and atmosphere, perhaps a patina of age, a suggestion rather than a description, a question or two. I look for memories, traces, evidence of human interaction with the landscape … . I often choose locations where I can be quiet, calm, and solitary, as it is my preferred way to work. I look for an atmosphere that resonates with my own senses … . I search for subject matter with visual patterns, interesting abstractions and graphic compositions … out there in the three dimensional world, and translate or interpret so that it becomes visually pleasing in a two dimensional photographic print.
For me there is only one path, and that is the path with heart. And there I travel, and there I travel – looking, looking breathlessly.
Speak to the stones, and the stars answer. At first the visible obscures: Go where light is.
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……by choosing a vantage point, choosing a frame, choosing a moment of exposure, and by selecting a plane of focus.
Photographs are not real, they are stylized interpretations of reality, and they are a result of the decisions that each photographer makes about how they shoot…there are no rules.
The question is not what you look at but what you see.
Henry David Thoreau
Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light. And shadow and time will never come again exactly as it is today.
The poet and the artist are important precisely because they are not average men: because in sensibility, intelligence, and power of invention they far exceed the average.
…I do not discuss any rules for good composition. I avoid them because there are none. Every composition is unique, and following some concocted formula will not guarantee a good photograph. There are no formulas; there are no rules of composition.
Photography’s supreme strength is that it shows us what things looked like (under a particular set of circumstances); The photographer’s supreme gift is to so select and record the actual that is transformed into the universal. That is the art of photography.
A photograph is not necessarily a lie, but it isn’t the truth either. It’s more like a fleeting subjective impression. What I like so much about photography is precisely the moment that cannot be anticipated; one must be constantly on the alert, ready to acclaim the unexpected.
I have some fine new work; landscapes with gorgeous heavens, for in New Mexico the heavens and the earth become one.
Amateurs worry about equipment, Professionals worry about time, Masters worry about light.
To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Life is a shitstorm, in which art is our only umbrella.
Mario Vargas Llosa
Photographers are kind of like children….and children open their eyes to the world freshly each day, and that’s what a good photographer should do. He should see it fresh……
Great photographers have to have three things: they have to have heart…they have to have an eye obviously to be able to compose…and they have to have a brain to think about what they are shooting.
John G. Morris
When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye it is in the mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection.
For me, content cannot be separated from form. By form, I mean a rigorous organization of the interplay of surfaces, lines, and values. It is in this organization alone that our conceptions and emotions become concrete and communicable. In photography, visual organization can stem only from a developed instinct.