Tag Archives: Garry Winogrand

You know, you’ve heard photographers talk about how they want to know the place better and so on—they’re really talking about their own comfort. Let me put it this way—I have never seen a photograph from which I could tell how long the photographer was there, how well he knew it.

Garry Winogrand

“Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed.”

When asked how he felt about missing photographs while he reloaded his camera with film, he replied “There are no photographs while I’m reloading.”

When asked if he ever ever had any particular difficult assgignments or photographic moments, he said “No, the only thing that’s difficult is reloading when things are happening. Can you get it done fast enough?”

“I don’t have messages in my pictures… For me the true business of photography is to capture a bit of reality (whatever that is) on film…if, later, the reality means something to someone else, so much the better.”

“I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.”

“[If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would] do something to shake it up.”

“I am a tourist.”

“No one moment is most important. Any moment can be something.”

“The photo is a thing in itself. And that’s what still photography is all about.”

“There is no special way a photograph should look.”

“You see something happening and you bang away at it. Either you get what you saw or you get something else–and whichever is better you print.”

When asked why he photographs, he replied “I have a burning desire to see what things look like photographed by me.” Other time, he said: “How do I say it? The way I would put it is that I get totally out of myself. It’s the closest I come to not existing, I think, which is the best–which is to me attractive.”

“What I write here is a description of what I have come to understand about photography, from photographing and from looking at photographs. A work of art is that thing whose form and content are organic to the tools and materials that made it. Still photography is a chemical, mechanical process. Literal description or the illusion of literal description, is what the tools and materials of still photography do better than any other graphic medium. A still photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how a camera saw a piece of time and space. Understanding this, one can postulate the following theorem: Anything and all things are photographable. A photograph can only look like how the camera saw what was photographed. Or, how the camera saw the piece of time and space is responsible for how the photograph looks. Therefore, a photograph can look any way. Or, there’s no way a photograph has to look (beyond being an illusion of a literal description). Or, there are no external or abstract or preconceived rules of design that can apply to still photographs. I like to think of photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium, by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both.”

“I photograph what intrests me all the time. I live with the pictures to see what that thing looks like photographed.”

“I really try to divorce myself from any thought of possible use of this stuff. That’s part of the discipline. My only purpose while I’m working is to try to make interesting photographs, and what to do with them is another act – a alter consideration. Certainly while I’m working, I want them to be as useless as possible.”

When asked what general advice he would give to young photographers, he replied “The primary problem is to learn to be your own toughest critic. You have to pay attention to intelligent work, and to work at the same time. You see. I mean, you’ve got to bounce off better work. It’s matter of working.”

“Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.”

“You’ve got to deal with how photographs look, what’s there, not how they’re made.”

“…In the end, maybe the correct language would be how the fact of putting four edges around a collection of information or facts transforms it. A photograph is not what was photographed, it’s something else.”

“…The photograph should be more interesting or more beautiful than what was photographed.”

“A photograph can look any way.”

“For me the true business of photography is to capture a bit of reality (whatever that is) on film… if, later, the reality means something to someone else, so much the better.”

“Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the picture as judgment that the photograph is good.”

“Great photography is always on the edge of failure.”

“Every photograph is a battle of form versus content.”

“You have a lifetime to learn technique. But I can teach you what is more important than technique, how to see; learn that and all you have to do afterwards is press the shutter.”

“I don’t have anything to say in any picture. My only interest in photography is to see what something looks like as a photograph. I have no preconceptions.”

“There are things I back off from trying to talk about, you know. Particularly my own work. Also, there may be things better left unsaid. At times I’d much rather talk about other (people’s) work.”

“Well, I’m not going to get into that. I think that those kind of distinctions and lists of titles like “street photographer” are so stupid. I’m a photographer, a still photographer. That’s it.”

“And a friend of mine at that time, I was talking to him about it—a guy named Dan Weiner. I don’t know if you know his name. He’s dead now. [He] asked me if I had ever seen …Walker Evans’ book and I said, no. I had never heard of Walker Evans. He said, if you’re going around the country, take a look at the book. And he did me a big fat favor.”

Garry Winogrand