Richard Avedon, Self Portrait. 1923-2004
“I hate cameras. They interfere, they’re always in the way. I wish: if I could just work with my eyes alone. To get a satisfactory print, one that contains all that you intended, is very often more difficult and dangerous than the sitting itself. When I’m photographing, I immediately know when I’ve got the image I really want. But to get the image out of the camera and into the open, is another matter.”
“And if a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up. I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible.”
“I believe that you’ve got to love your work so much that it is all you want to do. I believe you must betray your mistress for your work, you betray your wife for your work; I believe that she must betray you for her work. I believe that work is the one thing in the world that never betrays you, that lasts. If I were going to be a politician, if I were going to be a scientist, I would do it every day. I wouldn’t wait for Monday. I don’t believe in weekends. If you’re headed for a life that’s only involved with making money and that you hope for satisfaction somewhere else, you’re headed for a lot of trouble. And whatever replaces vodka when you’re 45 is what you’re going to be doing.”
I’m not sure Richard Avedon and I would see eye to eye on everything, but I love his passion and there is something in the spirit of what he did and the things he said about what he did that warrants learning from him. Take some time online at some point, or at your local library, looking at the work of Avedon. As far as portrait photographers go, he was his own man with his own voice. Remember, the point is not to find photographers you like or even agree with, but photographers from whom we can learn.
Reminds me of a line from an early Bruce Cockburn song, Maybe The Poet:
You and he may not agree/but you need him to show you new ways to see…