On Photography

“I start a portrait by asking the person to give me a list of important events in his or her life – intensively personal moments which outsiders have very little knowledge of or insight into. Then I add some relevant historical events that, in more ways than one, have probably altered the course of and the possibility for those supposedly private or personal events.”

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

“I take photographs of photographs. I choose pictures that manifest the desire that nature and culture provide us with a sense of order and meaning. I appropriate these images to express my own simultaneous longing for the passion of engagement and the sublimity of aloofness.”

Sherrie Levine

“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.”

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Early on, I realized that a graphic image, among other things, can be a useful tool. It can provide an exclamation point to an image. It can become a great simplifier to complex image. It can become an abstraction. It can become the image. At it’s best, it can take the viewer into a whole other world. On the other hand,  an overly graphic image can create a very quick “Wow!” sensation and then upon further viewing, lose that original power because it has been discovered. I think the best graphic images are those where the compositions are less obvious and/or include a counterpoint. That can be the beginning of story. I have always felt that my most successful photographs are like short stories; they say the most with the least. The best photographs don’t always have stories with answers; sometimes they’re stories that ask questions. And, sometimes they’re not stories at all; instead they may be visual poems or visual adjectives. The film director, Wim Wenders, himself a very good photographer, did a wonderful book of photographs called, “Once”. In the introduction he ends by saying, “I hope this photobook will become a storybook. It Isn’t yet- but it can become one if you just listen to your eyes”. I love that!”

Arthur Meyerson