The virtue of the camera is not the power it has to transform the
photographer into an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep on
Brooks Anderson, Once Around the Sun
When I photograph, what I'm really doing is seeking answers to things.
The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the
unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves
the novel and is bored by repetition.
W. H. Auden
A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less
The magic of photography is metaphysical. What you see in the photograph
isn't what you saw at the time. The real skill of photography is
organized visual lying.
A thing is not what you say it is or what you photograph it to be or
what you paint it to be or what you sculpt it to be. Words, photographs,
paintings, and sculptures are symbols of what you see, think, and feel
things to be, but they are not the things themselves.
Many pictures turn out to be limp translations of the known world instead
of vital objects which create an intrinsic world of their own. There is
a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.
It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less
imagination to be a painter, because you can invent things. But in
photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before
you learn to see the ordinary.
Searching is everything - going beyond what you know. And the test of the
search is really in the things themselves, the things you seek to
understand. What is important is not what you think about them,
but how they enlarge you.
While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us
nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in
which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.
We take language into our minds; we read words in the same internal
voice with which we think, remember, pray. But when we look at paintings
or photographs, the reverse is true. If the image corresponds to our most
intensely personal, yet archetypal, yearnings and memories, we don't take
the image in, we move out of ourselves into the image, as though it were
another world, a hologram whose forms of light are ghostly angels, or a
dream whose physical reality is suggested by what we see on the surface
of a canvas or a page. We connect with the image as though we had lost it
within our own memories and are now surprised to find it represented
outside ourselves, vital and luminous, charged with energy.
Jayne Anne Phillips
Photographs are of course about their makers, and are to be read for what
they disclose in that regard no less than for what they reveal of the
world as their makers comprehend, invent, and describe it.
A. D. Coleman
My quest, through the magic of light and shadow, is to isolate, to
simplify and to give emphasis to form with the greatest clarity. To
indicate the ideal proportion, to reveal sculptural mass and the
dominating spirit is my goal.
Light is my inspiration, my paint and brush. It is as vital as the
model herself. Profoundly significant, it caresses the essential
superlative curves and lines. Light I acknowledge as the energy upon
which all life on this planet depends.
For me, the creation of a photograph is experienced as a heightened
emotional response, most akin to poetry and music, each image the
culmination of a compelling impulse I cannot deny. Whether working
with a human figure or a still life, I am deeply aware of my spiritual
connection with it. In my life, as in my work, I am motivated by a
great yearning for balance and harmony beyond the realm of human
experience, reaching for the essence of oneness with the Universe.
The urge to create, the urge to photograph, comes in part from the
deep desire to live with more integrity, to live more in peace with the
world, and possibly to help others to do the same.
A person is quite different from a tree or rock or stream. By introducing
the nude into my pictures, I started perceiving all the things I was
photographing in new ways. In contrast or opposition to each other,
things became much more significant and interesting, revealing many
more qualities than I had ever dreamed of knowing and expressing. By
using the nude, I stopped thinking in terms of objects. I was seeing
things, instead, as dynamic events, unique in their own beings yet
also related and existing together within a universal context of energy
I know some photographs that are extraodrinary in their power and
conviction, but it is difficult in photography to overcome the
superficial power or subject; the concept and statement must be quite
convincing in themselves to win over a dramatic and compelling subject
Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams, an Autobiography
The eyes are not responsible when the mind does the seeing.
The contemporary artist...is not bound to a fully conceived, previsioned
end. His mind is kept alert to in-process discovery and a working rapport
is established between the artist and his creation. While it may be true,
as Nathan Lyons stated, 'The eye and the camera see more than the mind knows,'
is it not also conceivable that the mind knows more than the eye and the
camera can see?
To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.
One must always tell what one sees. Above all, which is more difficult,
one must always see what one sees.
I love the medium of photography, for with its unique realism it gives
me the power to go beyond conventional ways of seeing and understanding
and say, "This is real, too."
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
What you see is real - but only on the particular level to which you've
developed your sense of seeing. You can expand your reality by developing
new ways of perceiving.
It seems so utterly naive that landscape - not that of the pictorial
school - is not considered of "social significance" when it has a far
more important bearing on the human race of a given locale than
excrescences called cities.
Edward Weston, Daybooks
Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face -
the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited; and the wealth
and confusion that man has created. It is a major force in explaining
man to man.
All I wanted was to connect my moods with those of Paris. Beauty pains and
when it pained most, I shot.
In the absence of a subject with which you are passionately involved, and
without the excitement that drives you to grasp it and exhaust it, you
may take some beautiful pictures, but not a photographic oeuvre.
As I became aware that all things have unique spatial and temporal
qualities which visually define and relate them, I began to perceive the
things I was photographing not as objects but as events. Working to
develop my skills of perceiving and symbolizing these event qualities,
I discovered the principle of opposites. When, for example, I photographed
the smooth, luminous body of a woman behind a dirty cobwebbed window, I
found that the qualities of each event were enhanced and the universal
forces which they manifested were more powerfully evoked.
Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when
they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them
come back again.
Henri Cartier Bresson
I feel all things as dynamic events, being, changing, and interacting
with each other in space and time even as I photograph them.
I now measure my growth as a photographer in terms of the degrees to
which I am aware of, have developed my sense of, and have the skills to
symbolize visually the four-dimensional structure of the universe.
I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph
The camera is an instrument of detection. We photograph not only what we
know, but also what we don't know.
Everything went together perfectly, and this is what I mean by knowing.
I didn't have to analyze anything. I just recognized what was in front
of me. All I had to do was set up and take the picture.
The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
William Blake, "Auguries of Innocence"
In a photograph, if I am able to evoke not alone a feeling of the
reality of the surface physical world but also a feeling of the reality
of existence that lies mysteriously and invisibly beneath its surface,
I feel I have succeeded. At their best, photographs as symbols not
only serve to help illuminate some of the darkness of the unknown,
they also serve to lessen the fears that too often accompany the
journeys from the known to the unknown.
Mysteries lie all around us, even in the most familiar things, waiting
only to be perceived.
Copyright © 1995-2005 by Charles Daney, All Rights Reserved