A page of collected quotes - mostly about photography.
"I take photographs, and photos explain nothing; they describe."
"Documentary is too real – it’s about the world, and I think people prefer the escapism of landscape and fine art photography."
“No individual photo explains anything. That's what makes photography such a wonderful and problematic medium.”
"The truth inexorably leads to a single, but usually ignored, matter of fact: in order to photograph with any degree of continuous passion, you must have a fascination for the subject, otherwise you cannot sustain an interest in the act of creation for a long enough period of time in which to make any insightful or original statement about it. In spite of its seemingly heretical slant (in this day and age) what you photograph is usually more important than how you photograph it."
"I never think of photographs as being individual. Always as a group."
"It [photography] is about a person trying to show someone else what they are personally interested in, in a way that the viewer might not have seen"
“The important thing is not to have an aim, I just go out the door and, what ever’s real, I try and deal with that.”
"The real world is infinitely more interesting than anything you try to invent in a studio."
"To think that you can come up with a better idea than what the world is offering you (in exchange for a little patience) is foolhardy. Life is more creative than you. Spend some time looking around and it will give you images that you could never imagine yourself."
"The world is a wonderful place. You don't need to set anything up - it's remarkable as it is." David Hurn
"When the stuff is too journalistic and documentary then it is journalism, if it is too conceptual and arty then that is another thing, but where the two meet - that is interesting."
"...finding new ideas cannot be brought entirely under rational control. Acknowledgement of the limitations of that control, ironically, may be a necessary preliminary to the creative process."
"I am afraid that there are more people than I can imagine who can go no further than appreciating a picture that is a rectangle with an object in the middle of it, which they can identify. They don’t care what is around the object as long as nothing interferes with the object itself, right in the centre. Even after the lessons of Winogrand and Friedlander, they don’t get it. They respect their work because they are told by respectable institutions that they are important artists, but what they really want to see is a picture with a figure or an object in the middle of it. They want something obvious. The blindness is apparent when someone lets slip the word ‘snapshot’. Ignorance can always be covered by ‘snapshot’. The word has never had any meaning. I am at war with the obvious.”
"Style is ephemeral – Form is eternal."
“Value judgements are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness.”
"Art is too big a word for me. It has too many letters in it."
"If one really knew what one was doing, why do it? It seems to me if you had the answer why ask the question? The thing is there are so many questions. I wonder what it is going to look like if I stand here or if I stand there. I don’t know."
"Every time I talked about making a picture I didn’t do it. I had already done it – talking about it! I quit talking."
“What is the art experience about? Really, I’m not interested in making “Art” at all. I never, ever, think about it. To say the word “Art”, it’s almost like a curse on art.”
“Don’t try to be an artist. Find the thing within you that needs to be expressed. You might find it is art.”
"I’ve seen black and white men crying over each other’s demises, men tenderly cradling the wounded, and caring. That’s what beauty is all about. It’s not about trees or sunsets, it’s about human depth’
"Usually when people talk about the value of 'contemplative' photography what they mean in practice is taking pictures in pretty good light of stuff that doesn't move. Basically it means limiting the subject matter of photography to what a large camera on a tripod can do well. What digital photography has done is open up the world of really dark places and things that move quickly—and a lot. This has expanded photography and improved its ability to reflect the world (in my opinion)."
"You can't think the world looks like photographs. It doesn't, it doesn't."
"I stopped believing in inspiration a long, long time ago. So, although I still get it, now and again, I don't wait for it. You just have to start working sometimes."
"... the camera is essentially a notebook for recording instances in time and space, but above all for recording life as it presents itself. Photographing people, places, events – anything – must, for my part, be done without being contrived. Pictures are all around us, waiting to be taken. The difficult part is recognising them but the secret is not just to record but to select. The obvious cliché is avoided and instead a meaning or reason is conveyed without sacrificing realism."
"Unlike the painter, who arranges the composition within the space of his canvas, the photographer must compose within the limits of his lens and viewfinder and select a suggestion, an idea, an interpretation – with very few second chances."