It comforts me to know I’m not a lone nutter standing on the edge of sanity shouting into the wind. In fact it turns out there’s really nothing about what I teach that better voices before mine have not taught. My voice is just an echo, but it echoes something I think is important – that this craft is a human pursuit and it is the human behind the camera that will make our photographs what they are.
How we see is more important than what we see. Why we press the shutter button, to paraphrase Mary Ellen Mark, is more important than when we press it (though that too is important). Here are some of those voices, all of them pointing with reverence to the photographer’s role in picture-making (conveniently that’s all the sub-title of my new book, The Soul of the Camera)
“All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.” ~ Elliott Erwitt
“It’s the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” ~ Eve Arnold
“When people ask what equipment I use, I tell them my eyes.” ~ Ansel Adams
“I realize more and more what it takes to be a really good photographer. You go in over your head, not just up to your neck.” ~ Dorothea Lange
“Artists are controlled by the life that beats in them, like the ocean beats on the shore.” ~ Dorothea Lange
“Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.” – Walker Evans
“Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.” ~ Walker Evans
“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” ~ Ansel Adams
“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!” ~ Ansel Adams
“Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film.” ~ Ansel Adams
“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” ~ Ansel Adams
“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” ~ Ansel Adams
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” ~ Ansel Adams
If you like these and resonate with them, you’re going to love Soul of the Camera, a beautiful black and white hardcover that explores the role of the photographer in making images. You can find more information here, including downloadable sample chapters, a new audio interview with me, reviews from those that had a chance to read it before it hit the shelves, and links to Amazon, etc., so you can get your hands on your own copy.
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