For me what photographers say about their photos doesn’t have any importance. For me it is just enough to look at the pictures. Many times — for the boring pictures — people have to say so many things about them to show you there is something to them when many times there is nothing.
You are not just a photojournalist, you’re a historian.
I don’t think you can live life ‘objectively.’ I think the whole idea of ‘objective reporting’ is a bunch of bullshit.
The most unsafe place to be, whether people are using rocks or bullets, is between the lines. You must choose a side, if for no other reason than to have a firm spot on which to stand and a moment’s peace to focus.
We dream of works of art and social realism that have the power
to change men and transform society.
The pictures are not made to disturb people’s consciences but rather to disturb their consciousness. The pictures do not ask you to “help” these people, but something much more difficult; to be briefly and intensely aware of their existence, an existence as real and significant as your own.
The people on the street recognize you right away. If you have negative thoughts in your mind, people get this right away. If you really want to do something good, they understand and feel this too. They can sense what your intentions are—that you have not come not to steal anything, or do anything bad—and then they try to help you. People help you when you have showed up just because you are curious about the lives others lead. The entire essential deal with photography is that you have to be honest. If you don’t really like people, or look down from above on them, they will react similarly to you. If you go somewhere where you don’t actually like the local people, there is no way you can do good work there. Communications with the people whose photos you are taking is vital. And you do not absolutely have to have words or phrases at the ready to strike up communications. What is really important actually is emotional communication. Actually, the thing that gives me the most pleasure when it comes to taking photos is that feeling of having “been accepted.” I mean, I go to a completely foreign place, and I start dialogues with the people there. When these people who I never knew before accept me, and take me into their lives, it is an incredible feeling.
I photograph everything I see, because as photographers, we want to document everything. We are historians. We record the era we live in visually. And I record my own era to convey it to future generations.
There are lots of things that I could not do. I wish I could have photographed Jean-Paul Sartre or Charlie Chaplin. I didn’t have that opportunity.
Photography is interpretation. I can stand for an hour in front of a picture by Ansel Adams or Eugene Smith or Cartier-Bresson. You can see that they have a visual education. But that does not make them artists. I hate the idea of becoming an artist. My job is to travel and record what I see.
Art is something important. But the history of humanity is more important, and that is what press photographers record. We are the eyes of the world. We see on behalf of other people. We collect the visual history of today’s earth. To me, visual history is more important than art. The function of photography is to leave documentation for coming centuries.
The actual taking of the photograph is very important and rather difficult. It is determining a piece of reality and fixing it for eternity. One has to learn to see. Most look but never see. And also, a photographer has to stay in the shadows. Otherwise it will lose its naturalness.
That is the job of a journalist, to upset your morning.
I think you can only do this for eight years. For eight years you can still keep the positive. If you stay at it longer than eight years, you turn. And not into a beautiful butterfly. You really turn. I see it in myself, I see it in all my friends and colleagues. I mean they are all victims of post trauma. We’re not the beautiful butterflies anymore.We become moths. We’re like moths flying to the flame. You know, sometimes your wings get singed or you just burn up. Get killed. Or you burn up inside. The drugs and the alcohol and the party and all of this is to push it away, push it away.