Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Posted: December 8, 2013 in Quotes

Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t turn out – take another shot!


Posted: December 21, 2012 in Quotes

Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

War Photographer [2001]

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Multimedia
Tags: ,

[Photographs of/by James Nachtwey]

If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

– Robert Capa

  • He is a loner to a great extend and I think sometimes you have to be to work that well and to give so much of yourself. It is hard to divided your attention, your emotion and your energy. I think you have to be single-minded…and he is.
  • I really felt that I was witnessing history and not witnessing history from an academic point of view, not from a distance; but really what happens to people, ordinary people in the course of history. This was to be the most exciting, the most worthwhile experience and exactly the kind of experience why I became a photographer. That’s what I wanted to get across.
  • I also had to learn in taking pictures how to develop a personal vision. How to express my own feelings about it and in order to do that I had to get in touch with my own feelings. It was kind of true photography, true to the discipline of the frame, I learned about the world. It became the way which I discovered the world, also became the way which I discovered about myself.
  • They make you realize that this is serious and important. You, by the way you cover a story or by the way you tell a story, defines the way the world sees that story. You better do it right. You better know what you are doing. I deeply, deeply believe that.
  • In a war, the normal code of civilized behaviors are suspended.
  • Those pictures could have not been made unless I was accepted by the people I am photographing. It is simply impossible to photograph moments such as those without the complicity of the people I am photographing. Without the fact that they welcomed me, that they accepted me, that they wanted me to be there. They understand that a stranger who’s come there with a camera who show the rest of the world what has happening to them gives them a voice in the outside world that they otherwise wouldn’t have. They realized that they are the victims of some kind of injustice, some kind of unnecessary violence. By allowing me there to photograph it, they are making their own appeal to the outside world and to everyone’s sense of right and wrong.
  • It is more difficult to get publication to focus on issues that are more critical, that do not provide people with an escape of reality but to attempt to get them deeper into reality, to be concerned about something much greater than themselves. I think people are concerned. I think publishers quite often don’t give their audience enough credit for that.
  • Why photograph war? Is it possible to put an end to a form of human behavior which has existed throughout history by means of photography? The proportions of that notion seems ridiculous out of balance yet that very idea has motivated me. For me the strength of photography lies in its ability to provoke a sense of humanity. If a war is an attempt to negate humanity then photography can be perceived as the opposite of war. And if it is used well, it can be a powerful ingredient in the antidote to war.
    • In a way, if an individual assumes the risk of placing himself in the middle of war in order to communicate to the rest of the world what is happening, he is trying to negotiate for peace. Perhaps that’s the reason why those who are in charge of perpetuating war do not like to have photographers around.
  • In the field where your experiences are extremely immediate, where what you see is not an image on a page in a magazine 10,000 miles away with an advertisement for Rolex watches on the next page. What you see is unmitigated pain, injustice, and misery. It has occurred to me that if everyone can be there just once, to see for themselves what white phosphorus does to the face of a child, or what unspeakable pain is caused by the impact of a single bullet, or how a jagged piece of shred mill can rip someone’s leg off; if everyone can be there to see for themselves the fear and the grieve just one time, then they would understand that nothing is worth letting things get to the point where that happens to even one person, let alone thousands. But everyone cannot be there and that is why photographers go there. To show them, to reach out and grab them and make them stop what they are doing and pay attention to what is going on. To create pictures powerful enough to overcome the deluding effects of the mass media and shake people out of their indifference. To protest and by the strength of that protest to make others protest.

  • If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest – in all its ardour and paradoxes – than our travels.
  • If we are inclined to forget how much there is in the world besides that which we anticipate, then works of art are perhaps little to blame, for in them we find the same process of simplification or selection at work as in the imagination.
    • The anticipatory and artistic imagination omit and compress, they cut away periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments and, without either lying or embellishing, thus lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present.

Life is a hospital in which every patient is obsessed with changing beds. This one wants to suffer in front of the radiator, and that one thinks he’d get better if he was by the window.

– Charles Baudelaire

  • There is a psychological pleasure in this take-off too, for the swiftness of the plane’s ascent is an exemplary symbol of transformation. The display of power can inspire us to imagine analogous, decisive shifts in our own lives; to imagine that we too might one day surge above much that now looms over us.
  • …it is what we have in common with others that looms larger than what separates us.
  • Journeys are the midwives of thought.
    • The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is suppose to do.
    • The music or the view distracts for a time that nervous, censorious, practical part of the the mind which is inclined to shut down when it notices something difficult emerging in consciousness and which runs scared of memories, longings, introspective or original ideas and prefers instead the administrative and the impersonal.
    • Of all modes of transport, the train is perhaps the best aid to thought: the views have none of the potential monotony of those on a ship or plane, they move fast enough for us not to get exasperated but slowly enough to allow us to identify objects.

From the late 18th century onwards, it is no longer from the practice of community but from being a wanderer that the instinct of fellow-feeling is derived. Thus an essential isolation and silence and loneliness become the carriers of nature and community aginst the rigours, the cold abstinence, the selfish ease of ordinary society.

– Raymond Williams, The Country and the City

  • What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home.
  • Central to Flaubert’s philosophy was the belief that we are not simply spiritual creatures, but also pissing and shitting ones and that we should integrate the ramifications of this blunt idea into our view of the world.
  • The people of Egypt seemed to share some of the qualities of the camel: a silent strength and humility that contrasted with the bourgeois arrogance of Flaubert’s Normand neighbors.
  • Desire elicits a need to understand.

My native country is for me the country that I love, that is, the one that makes me dream, that makes me fell well.

I am a soul brother to everything that lives, to the giraffe and to the crocodile as much as to man.

Gustave Flaubert

  • When he was asked where he came from, Socrates said not from Athens but from the world.
  • Facts have utility…and with utility comes an (approving) audience.
  • In the essay On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life, Nietzsche distinguished between collecting facts like an explorer or academic and using already well-know facts for the sake of inner, psychological enrichment.

I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity.

– Goethe

…[the person] looks beyond his own individual transitory existence and feels himself to be the spirit of his house, his race, his city…the happiness of knowing that one is not wholly accidental and arbitrary but grown out of a past as its heir, flower and fruit, and that one’s exsitence is thus excused and, indeed, justified.

– Nietzsche

  • Few Europeans had crossed the regions through which he traveled and their absence offered him an imaginative freedom…He could create his own categories of value without either following or deliberately rebelling against the hierarchies of others.
  • A danger of travel is that we things at the wrong time, before we have had a chance to build up the necessary receptivity and when new information is therefore as useless and fugitive as necklace beads without a connecting chain.
    • Travel twists our curiosity according to a superficial geographical logic, as superficial as if a university course were to prescribe books according to their size rather than subject matter.

People often say that I’m curious about too many things at once: botony, astronomy, comparative anatomy. But can you really forbid a man from harboring a desire to know and embrace everything which surrounds him?

Alexander von Humboldt

  • ...cities foster a family of life-destroying emotions: anxiety about our position in the social hierarchy, envy at the success of others, pride and a desire to shine in the eyes of strangers…City-dwellers had no perspective…however well provided for, they had a relentless desire for new things, which they did not genuinely lack and on which happiness did not depend.
    • The poet proposed that Nature, which he took to comprise, among other elements, birds, streams, daffodils and sheep, was an indispensable corrective to the psychological damage inflicted by life in the city.
  • …our identities are to a greater or lesser extent malleable; that we change according to whom – and sometimes what – we are with. The company of certain people excites our generosity and sensitivity, of others, our competitiveness and envy.

A great Poet…ought to a certain degree to rectify men’s feelings…to render their feelings more sane, pure and permanent, in short, more consonant to Nature.

William Wordsworth

  • …give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and wonders of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure, but for which, in consequence of the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand.
  • What defies our will can provoke anger and resentment; it may also arouse awe and respect. It depends on whether the obstacle appears noble in its defiance or squalid and insolent.
    • We are humiliated by what is powerful and mean, but awed by what is powerful and noble.

A vast space naturally raises in my thoughts the idea of an Almighty Being.

– Joseph Addison

There are certain scenes that would awe an atheist into belief without the help of any other argument.

– Thomas Gray

Amid those scenes of solitude from which the hand of nature has never been lifted, the associations are of God the creator – they are his undefiled works, and the mind is cast into contemplation of ethernal things.

– Thomas Cole

  • It is no coincidence that the Western attraction to sublime landscape developed at precisely the moment when traditional beliefs in God began to wane…The landscape offered them an emotional connection to a greater power, even as they freed them of the need to subscribe tot he more specific and now less plausible claims of biblical tests and organized religion.
  • Do not be surprised that things have not gone your way: the universe is greater than you. Do not be surprised that you do not understand why they have not gone your way: for you cannot fathom the logic of the universe.
    • Accept what is bigger than you and you do not understand.
    • Consider sublime places for a reminder of human insignificance and frailty.
    • When divine wisdom eludes human understanding, the righteous, made aware of their limitations by the spectacle of sublime nature, must continue to trust in God’s plans for the universe.
  • We are the playthings of the forces that laid our the oceans and chiseled the mountains. Sublime places gently move us to acknowledge limitations that we might otherwise encounter with anxiety or anger in the ordinary flow of events. It is not just nature that defies us. Human life is as overwhelming, but is the vast space of nature that perhaps provide us with the finest, the most respectful reminder of all that exceeds us.
  • Because we find places to be beautiful as immediately and as apparently spontaneously as we find snow to be cold or sugar sweet, it is hard to imagine that there is anything we might do to alter or expand our attractions. It seems that matters have been decided for us by qualities inherent in the places themselves or by hard-wiring in our psyches and that we would therefore be as helpless to modify our sense of places we find beautiful as we would our preference for the ice-creams we find appetizing.

…quickly, quickly, quickly and in a hurry, just like a harvester who is silent under the blazing sun, intent only on his reaping…I work even in the middle of the day, in the full sunshine, and I enjoy it like cicada.

– Van Gogh

  • Painters do not merely reproduce. They select and highlight, and they are accorded genuine admiration in so far as their version of reality seems to bring out valuable features of it.
    • We are apt to call any painting realistic that competently conveys key elements of the world. But the world is complex enough for two realistic pictures of the same place to look very different depending on an artist’s style and temperament.
    • Bad art might thus be defined as a series of bad choices about what to show and what to leave out.
  • Art cannot single-handedly create enthusiasm, nor does it arise from sentiments of which non-artists are devoid; it merely contributes to enthusiasm and guides us to be more conscious of feelings that we might previously have experienced only tentatively or hurriedly.
  • A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is the desire to hold on to it: to possess it and give it weight in our lives.
    • But beauty is fugitive, it is frequently found in places to which we may never return or else it results from a rare conjunction of season, light and weather.
  • Taking photographs can assuage the itch for possession sparked by the beauty of a place; our anxiety about losing a precious scene can decline with every click of the shutter.
  1. Beauty is the result of a complex number of factors that effect the mind psychologically and visually.
  2. Humans have an innate tendency to respond to beauty and to desire to possess it.
  3. There are many lower expressions of this desire for possession, including the desire to buy souvenirs and carpets, to carve one’s name in pillars and to make photographs.
  4. There is only one way to possess beauty properly and that is through understanding it, through making ourselves conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) that are responsible for it.
  5. The most effective way of pursuing this conscious understanding is by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, through writing or drawing them, irrespective of whether we happen to have any talent for doing so.
  • To notice rather than to look.
    • In the process of re-creating with our own hand what lies before our eyes, we seem naturally to move from a position of observing beauty in a loose way to one where we acquire a deep understanding of its constituent parts and hence more secure memories of it.
    • True possession of a scene is a matter of making a conscious effort to notice elements and understanding their construction.

A man is born an artist as a hippopotamus is born a hippopotamus; and you can no more make yourself one than you can make yourself a giraffe.

My effort are directed not to making a carpenter an artist, but to making him happier as a carpenter.

No changing of place at a hundred miles an hour will make us one whit stronger, happier, or wiser. There was always more in the world than men could see, walked they ever so slowly; they will see it no better for going fast. The really precious things are thought and sight, not pace. It does a bullet no good to go fast; and a man, if he be truly a man, no harm to go slow; for his glory is not at all in going, but in being.

I believe that the sight is a more important thing than the drawing; and I would rather teach drawing that my pupils may learn to love nature, than teach the looking at nature that they may learn to draw.

John Ruskin

  • Technology may make it easier to reach beauty, but it has not simplified the process of possessing or appreciating it.
  • [drawing, eating or drinking] – what unites the three activities is that they all involve assimilations by the self of desirable elements from the world, a transfer of goodness from without to within.

The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.

– Pascal

  • We have become habituated and therefore blind.
    • We approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is interesting.

Posted: June 21, 2010 in Quotes

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Elliott Erwitt