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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Duane Michals.

“Trust that little voice in your head that says ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if…’; And then do it.” – Duane Michals

“Don’t try to be an artist. Find the thing within you that needs to be expressed. You might find it is art.” – Duane Michals

“I am an expressionist and by that I mean that I’m not a photographer or a writer or a painter or a tap dancer, but rather someone who expresses himself according to his needs.” – Duane Michals

“People believe in the reality of photographs, but not in the reality of paintings. That gives photographers an enormous advantage. Unfortunately, photographers also believe in the reality of photographs.” – Duane Michals

“Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be.” – Duane Michals

“I never photograph sunsets and I never photograph moonrises. I’m not interested in what things look like.” – Duane Michals

“You can never capture a person in picture, never. You might get an interesting expression or gesture. I almost never research a picture subject ahead of time. I think Karsh is full of baloney. Can you imagine spending a whole week out in La Jolla with Jonas Salk soaking up his ambiance, then wind up making him look as if he’s in the studio in Ottawa with his thumb under his chin?” – Duane Michals

“Because of my involvement with my photographs, it is difficult for me really to see them objectively. Talking about them is like talking about myself. The only real idea that I have about them is that they are essentially snapshots. For snapshots, I feel, often have an inherent simplicity and directness that I find beautiful. The roots of my photographs are in this tradition.” – Duane Michals

“However, I think that the photographer must completely control his picture and bring to it all his personality, and in this area most photographs never transcend being just snapshots. When a great photographer does infuse the snapshot with his personality and vision, it can be transformed into something truly moving and beautiful.” – Duane Michals

“The best part of us is not what we see, it’s what we feel. We are what we feel. We are not what we look at . . .. We’re not our eyeballs, we’re our mind. People believe their eyeballs and they’re totally wrong . . .. That’s why I consider most photographs extremely boring–just like Muzak, inoffensive, charming, another waterfall, another sunset. This time, colors have been added to protect the innocent. It’s just boring. But that whole arena of one’s experience–grief, loneliness–how do you photograph lust? I mean, how do you deal with these things? This is what you are, not what you see. It’s all sitting up here. I could do all my work sitting in my room. I don’t have to go anywhere.” – Duane Michals

“I write in order to express what the photo itself cannot say. A photograph of my father doesn’t tell me what I thought of him, which for me is much more important than what the man looked like.” – Duane Michals

“Photography does deal with ‘truth’ or a kind of superficial reality better than any of the other arts, but it never questions the nature of reality – it simply reproduces reality. And what good is that when the things of real value in life are invisible?” – Duane Michals

“I believe in the invisible. I do not believe in the definitive reality of things around us. For me, reality is the intuition and the imagination and the quiet voice inside my head that says: isn’t that extraordinary? The things in our lives are the shadows of reality, just as we ourselves are shadows.” – Duane Michals

“Photographers tend not to photograph what they can’t see, which is the very reason one should try to attempt it. Otherwise we’re going to go on forever just photographing more faces and more rooms and more places. Photography has to transcend description. It has to go beyond description to bring insight into the subject, or reveal the subject, not as it looks, but how does it feel?” – Duane Michals

“I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.” – Duane Michals

“Photography is essentially an act of recognition by street photographers, not an act of invention. Photographers might respond to an old man’s face, or an Arbus freak, or the way light hits a building—and then they move on. Whereas in all the other art forms, take William Blake, everything that came to that paper never existed before. It’s the idea of alchemy, of making something from nothing.” – Duane Michals

“I use photography to help me explain my experiences to myself.” – Duane Michals

“I think photographs should be provocative and not tell you what you already know. It takes no great powers or magic to reproduce somebody’s face in a photograph. The magic is in seeing people in new ways.” – Duane Michals
Duane Michals

“I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing.” – Duane Michals

“All good work has magic in it, and addresses the mind in a subtle way.” – Duane Michals

“Art is really whispering, not shouting.” – Duane Michals

“My gift to you is that I am different.” – Duane Michals

View 12 Great Photographs By Duane Michals.

Watch Duane Michals talk about his art.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Chris Rainier.

Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Chris Rainier.

“I am a storyteller who uses a camera.” – Chris Rainier

“I always knew that I wanted to be involved in seeing and understanding from seeing around the world. Photography is a perfect way to do that.” – Chris Rainier

“We need to take a moment now and then to trade stories about what it really means to be a human being.”

“I am South African by birth, but because of my father’s job, our family traveled a lot. While living in places like Africa and Australia, we visited indigenous peoples. From the beginning, I carried a camera to document the beauty and wonder of these far-flung countries. I also realized many of these cultures were faced with issues I could not ignore. I understood at a very early age, things were not like they were represented in travel magazines.” – Chris Rainier

“Working with Ansel (Adams), what happened there for me was, “Oh, I could use photography as a social tool.” His use of photography for environmental issues was phenomenal.” – Chris Rainier

“We consider biological diversity of these different flora and fauna crucial to our survival, but don’t think about intellectual diversity — in fact, we kind of look at it in a global market level, wouldn’t it be great to have one language? Well, if all we’re doing is communicating about commerce, perfect. But what about diversity that comes up in a language. Each language has its own unique way of looking at things.”

“We are at a crucial crossroads of human history. We are losing traditional cultures with their ancient ways of life and spiritual beliefs at catastrophic rates … With my photography of the First Peoples of our fragile planet, I hope to show spiritual traditions from our past in the present, and become part of the process in some small way of helping prefer life for future generations. I believe photography plays a crucial role in helping sustain and revitalize cultures on the edge.” – Chris Rainier

“With my photographs, I hope to show the past in the present and become part of the process of pressuring life for the future. As our television sets carry us boldly about the world, and as the chainsaws fell the last trees that hide the lost peoples, we lose an essential mystery, and with it, the wisdom which may lie there. If we would be citizens of that world, then we must do all we can to ensure the survival of that world. As only one form of life on Earth, we must keep our humility and finally honor life itself. Once the fragile umbilical cord to our primal past has been severed, we will find ourselves truly alone, without purpose, adrift in a vast space with nowhere to go.” – Chris Rainier

“What would happen if you gave a camera to the Afghan girl in Steve McCurry’s iconic photo? How different would those photographs be? Not to replace the Steve McCurry’s, but rather to create another chair at the table of the dialogue of what it means to be human. It’s not an either/or. It’s not a good or a bad. It just simply is.There are voices out there that have incredible vision, and we aren’t accessing them enough.” – Chris Rainier

“There’s so many cultures that are still now not connected and are getting left behind in the digital divide. More and more, this is a world where you don’t exist unless you’re online, and you don’t have access to information to education to empowerment, to women’s issues, to job opportunities, unless you’re connected.” – Chris Rainier

“I have come to realize that the further I evolve as a photographer, regardless of where I point my camera, I am taking a self-portrait — a reflection of my own story, my own beliefs, my own point of view. Nothing more. Nor do I presume that where I point my camera and take a picture is a reflection of the absolute truth. There is no such thing as an absolute truth. All images merely reflect the emotion of the photographer and the opinion of the reviewer. As it is stated in photography, there always exists two individuals in every image, the artist and the observer, and their sets of beliefs and cultural biases.” – Chris Rainier

“We’re always told to be objective. Well there is no such thing as objective. There is no such thing. We all have an opinion. As visual storytellers we must form opinions therefore things become subjective and the more intense they become they become extraordinarily subjective. I think the powerful images in documentary and photojournalism, if not in other areas of our field, are the ones where people have taken a stance and made a subjective opinion.” – Chris Rainier

“It’s presumptuous of me to document this culture and call it a documentation. It isn’t a documentation, it is an interpretation of their culture.” – Chris Rainier

“I’m also really trying to be careful not to deal with stereotypes. I was most concerned that I didn’t perpetuate the myth about the savage cannibal. In part that’s why I didn’t go in the direction of National Geographic. They have a colonial approach to the exotic. I didn’t want to get into that. I wanted to try to be as honest about a culture as possible, which is never entirely possible, we always have our own cultural bias.” – Chris Rainier

“I couldn’t get a straight answer when I was with the indigenous people. So I came back, read about it, and went back again and again. The wrong thing that happens, in my mind, is that you’re so prepped on western scientific explanations for things that you’ll miss the point completely.” – Chris Rainier

“What I’ve learned along the way is you have to ask the right question to get the right answer. Often as westerners we go in asking western questions and maybe that’s not the question to be asked. You need to be asking the question in a New Guinea sense. In a sense of the relevancy of their culture not the relevancy of what we think it is. There’s a big difference.” – Chris Rainier

“What’s going on in contemporary anthropology, trying to empower indigenous people to tell their own stories and get a more accurate story to tell other cultures.” – Chris Rainier

“The minute an indigenous culture becomes aware of its value to other cultures it shifts its tone and its perspective.” – Chris Rainier

“There are many examples of where they’re being overrun. But there’s power in information and there are enough organizations like Cultural Survival, Conservation International, Shaman Pharmaceutical. Shaman Pharmaceutical is actually going into the forest and documenting what the shamans are using but they are also linking up the shamans so they can talk to each other. So there are shamans in Borneo talking to shamans in the Amazon, ‘Hey what kind of leaves do you use?’ I think technology is being used in a constructive way to help people preserve their cultures.” – Chris Rainier

“They’re going to be able to hold onto their land and cultural beliefs. You take them out of that context and they’ve lost their roots, they have lost their sense of being nourished. That’s exactly what we’ve lost.” – Chris Rainier

“There are may be questions that we should never find the answers to. You know, in a world that quantifies everything. And this is what I wrote about in one of those essays in the New Guinea book. I hiked through this valley for a couple of weeks, and went through this valley of leeches, and got to the edge of this community, and this valley where this community lived, and the warriors met me – they knew that I was coming – and they said, ‘No. We are not going to let you in. We’re not allowed to let you in.’ I was upset. I was frustrated. I had spent all that time and energy and money to get there. And then after a day or so of spending time on the outer perimeter of this valley with the warriors who were very kind to show me around on the fringes, I got it. It’s good to know that there are places that are untouched, unmapped, not understood, and not quantified because then it still allows us to have the concept of the mystery of life. Once science takes over it quantifies everything, then we’re done for.” – Chris Rainier

“How do you put a value on art? How do you put a value on a little kid who comes wandering through here, and has a shift in his perspective, and is profoundly affected, and becomes the next Picasso or the next President of the United States. It’s these things you can’t put quantitative values on. You can’t do that with art, you can’t do that with indigenous cultures. It’s my belief that it is indigenous cultures that still have family values and a sense of connection between them, the land, and the spiritual connection of all things. That is the greatest gift they can give to us. There are some gifts that we can give to them – certainly medicine and technology to preserve their culture, video or email or the internet. What they need to give to us is a sense of what we have already lost. I think they are really our last chance to reconnect. I think people are appreciating these kind of cultures more and more because they see the differences – what we don’t have and what they do.” – Chris Rainier

“I’d like to touch upon that thing that completes the circle. That’s the documentation of some of these emotional social issues in the world and how it’s for me an important necessity, as much as doing sacred places. It is the yin and yang, the extreme corners of human experience from the Garden of Eden, still left on the planet, to the Dante’s Inferno of places like Sarajevo, Rwanda, or Chechnya for here lies the mysteries of man’s inner light as well as his inner darkness. This truly makes this work complete. As a photographer I’m curious to go into these extreme corners and put them on film.” – Chris Rainier

“I’m trying to create that sense of the spiritual reason why these places or these masks exist.” – Chris Rainier

Read my conversation with Chris Rainier.

View 12 Great Photographs By Chris Rainier.

Watch Chris Rainier’s TED talk.

Visit Chris Rainier’s website.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Jock Sturges.

“That’s my ambition: that you look at the pictures and realize what complex, fascinating, interesting people every single one of my subjects is.” – Jock Sturges

“Physical beauty is such a strange thing.” – Jock Sturges

“Different members of different cultures will think that some things are beautiful.” – Jock Sturges

“The truth is that from birth on we are, to one extent or another, a fairly sensual species.” – Jock Sturges

“As soon as you forbid something, you make it extraordinarily appealing. You also bring shame in as a phenomenon.” – Jock Sturges

“If somebody’s pointing a trembling finger at your pants and saying you shouldn’t be doing that, follow that finger back, go up the arm and look at the head that’s behind it, because there’s almost always something fairly woolly in there.” – Jock Sturges

“A virulent, aggressive minority has decided that Americans don’t know themselves what it is they should see, and need to be protected by people who are wiser than they are, even if they are only a tiny sliver of the population.” – Jock Sturges

“That dichotomy between the public consumption of the work and my intent and practice in making it is an uneasy one for me, on occasion.” – Jock Sturges

“I found myself serving a sentence of public denial from the very second the raid on my apartment happened.” – Jock Sturges

“I’m guilty of extraordinary naivete, I suppose. But it’s a naivete that I really don’t want to abandon, not even now.” – Jock Sturges

“But empirically I’ve come to understand that my photographs really don’t do any harm.” – Jock Sturges

“I became good at defending myself, but as far as I was concerned, that was a transient skill.” – Jock Sturges

“The world is shrinking as we see more and more of it in the media, and the more we see of the world, the smaller we are, the more aware we are of how insignificant any one of us is.” – Jock Sturges

“We live in an age where anonymity is growing in magnitude like a bomb going off.” – Jock Sturges

“Every child is going to grow up. You can see it happen in the books: They get older and older and belong to themselves to a greater and greater extent.” – Jock Sturges

“Before, I’d photograph anything. I didn’t think there was anything more or less obscene about any part of the body.” – Jock Sturges

“Any artist that’s involved in their work is inevitably going to have a focus in what they do.” – Jock Sturges

“I’m an artist that’s attracted to a specific way of seeing and a way of being.” – Jock Sturges

“I know the families that I photograph extremely well, and I’ve known them for a very long time.” – Jock Sturges

“All my life I’ve taken photographs of people who are completely at peace being what they were in the situations I photographed them in.” – Jock Sturges

“I don’t photograph any two people who are remotely the same.” – Jock Sturges

“I’d rather get back to making art than talk about it.” – Jock Sturges

Read our conversation here.

View 12 Great Photographs Collections here.

Read more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers’ Quotes.

View more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers Videos.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Stephen Johnson.

“There were a huge variety of movements in photography during the 20th century, some based on 19th century landscape photography, some evolved as a reaction against realism in painting and photography, some evolved has a way of chasing the aesthetic of impressionism in painting. A single characterization really doesn’t get at what photography and beauty meant in the 20th century.” – Stephen Johnson

“It is clear, that the way I think about landscape photography in my world, largely of came out of the f64 group of photographers such as Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Imogine Cunningham, Charles Scheeler and others. They relished the reality of the large format camera, and its clarity, seeing in that reality a great potential for abstraction. Their work became a large part of what landscape photography became.” – Stephen Johnson

“In the process of evolving this documentary power and the very real issues confronting us at the end of the 20th century, the beauty of the world often got lost in the accepted aesthetic of the Fine Art photography world. The famous quote by Cartier-Bresson about Weston and Adams photographing trees when the world was falling apart, comes to mind. Despite the enormous work and sometimes horrifyingly real world experiences it took to make them, it was easier to have photographs appreciated depicting the angst of the human experience. The dark side, the street photography of tragic circumstances, or peculiar people was the art, rather than responses to the beauty of the natural world, much less an appreciation for the wonder that it represents.” – Stephen Johnson

“It is come to the point that the world of landscape photography seems to exist in a place of perpetual sunrises and sunsets, the golden light, the perfect light, the waiting for the light, as though the ordinary experience of living seeing an experience in the planet does not in and of itself constitute a remarkable experience.” – Stephen Johnson

“I’m trying to make people aware that the Photography’s power to portray the real world is not only a power to portray our real human tragedy, but to also portray real human wonder, real human complexity and real human nuance and intricacy. The world is an intricate and nuanced place and I hope that photography can start to move toward understanding, appreciating, and portraying the common wonders of the world, rather than just the special wonders of the world.” – Stephen Johnson

“My own work is seeking to appreciate light in a different way than seems to have been previously appreciated in color photography. My affection for pastels, a more real world saturation, and not making transparent and open shadows into deep black holes (as film has traditionally done) is certainly an aesthetic I hope to propagate with whatever power my own work has to inspire.” – Stephen Johnson

“Because it is such a young media, the way we photograph, our own practices as well as those of our predecessors, have really made the history of photography. What we expect photography to be, has been largely determined by the photographs that we’ve seen and how we have understood the photographs that preceded ours.” – Stephen Johnson

“Photography has always been seen as wondrous, and much of that wonder came from its ability to render the real world.” – Stephen Johnson

“How photographers have approached these issues, their sense of truth in photography, their own sense of duty, how that has got folded into their work and both the interpreted power and documentary power of photography has influenced all of our perceptions of what photography is. We have tended the sub-categorize photography into photojournalism, landscape, documentary, fine arts, and some would argue we have different expectations from those different areas. I belive that regardless of the genre within photography, the understanding that remains a fundamental aspect of our perception of what photography is, is that it is in fact an image that was formed by a lens of the scene before the camera. However that might be influenced by our knowledge that photography can be manipulated into something that was not in front of the lens, we still have this instinct to believe, that is still at the heart of what makes this care about photographs.” – Stephen Johnson

“I try never to do anything to a photograph that I would characterize as enhancement or embellishment. I’ve said over and over again on many continents and for many years that the world is already self-embellished, it doesn’t need me to somehow make it better.” – Stephen Johnson

“Part of what we love about the photography process is the vicarious experience of a sense of place being appreciated without being in that place. It is actually inherent in photography’s basic power to let us know a world at some visual level that we haven’t actually seen.” – Stephen Johnson

“My fundamental fascination remains the photograph as witness to reality.” – Stephen Johnson

“The greatest wonder I experience in seeing new photography today is directly related to how many more people feel empowered to pursue photography and the variety of insights they bring to the medium.” – Stephen Johnson

Read our conversation here.

Find out more about Stephen Johnson here.

Read Great Quotes By Photographers collections here.

View 12 Great Photographs collections here.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Christopher Burkett.

“I would come out of the chapel after communion and occasionally I would see the world transformed, filled with light.” – Christopher Burkett

“I knew that if it was real, which it was that there must be some way to photograph that.” – Christopher Burkett

“The things that I’m trying to present in my photography are things that are absolutely real in the world, subtle qualities that many people don’t see.” – Christopher Burkett

“I’m working within a very limited box, in terms of possibilities. But, by working within that box to the maximum amount … it’s like a form of discipline, it is a form of discipline, and there is a strength and a depth that is possible within that discipline that doesn’t happen in any other way.” – Christopher Burkett

“Traditionally, art was not meant to be a worship of the ego of the artist, it was meant to be an expression of God’s grace, of divine things.” – Christopher Burkett

“I’m concerned about myself, what I’m doing, what my spiritual answer is rather than what I think other people should be doing. If my religion has any value it’s in my life and what I do. That’s its power and that should be evident. If it isn’t then it won’t be obvious. You know what I mean?” – Christopher Burkett

“This crystal clarity is part of the experience of trying to see the world as it truly is. The world is full of an infinite number of details. It’s only our blindness, in one form or another, that doesn’t allow us to see that.” – Christopher Burkett

“The truth is that if we lived .. I was trying to find a word for it earlier, all terms are limiting … in a state of divine grace everything would be even more real. That’s exactly what I’m trying to portray in my photography, that moment of … I don’t like to put a word on it because it’s too limiting. As soon as you put a word on it, it becomes a concept rather than a reality. And what I’m trying to present with my photography is that almost super real quality, not fake real, but super real. I’m trying to show something that is precious and real, that most people do not see.” – Christopher Burkett

“I have terrible vision without glasses. I didn’t know that until I was in first grade. Most of your visual processing mechanism is formed by the age of six. I couldn’t see the features on someone’s face unless I was about a foot and a half away from them. I learned to identify people by their shape and the way they walked. I had no idea. I had no idea at all. Then I got glasses. It was quite a revelation. All of a sudden the world was transformed with these details. I’ve tried not to lose that sense of astonishment and wonder. I never knew there were leaves on trees, I could only see if they had fallen. I’d never seen clouds before. The moon in the sky had been a fuzzy blob. I could never see stars, some of the brightest ones were a very faint globule, out of focus, about the size the moon would normally be. That whole sense of incredible wonder, of miraculousness has stayed with me. The whole world is full of marvelous details.” – Christopher Burkett

“I don’t try to justify what I do. I think the work is strong enough to speak for itself. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, but to me it’s not an issue, because I know what I’m doing is unique and I feel comfortable about that. When I’m out there, I’m not trying to look for a picture that looks like a picture I’ve seen before. I’m trying to see the world fresh and clean, and yet with a knowledge of the history of photography. I don’t think of working within a tradition, I think of working within the world, within life.” – Christopher Burkett

Read our conversation here.

Find out more about Christopher Burkett here.

Read Great Quotes By Photographers collections here.

View 12 Great Photographs collections here.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Olivia Parker.

“Photography, even though some people refer to it as a mechanical process, forces you to reach out to the world in front of you.” – Olivia Parker

“The biggest transformation comes through what happens with the light.” – Olivia Parker

“It’s very easy to do the things that are obviously manipulated, but to do things that are subtle, that might or might not be manipulated, can get much more interesting.” – Olivia Parker

“People have been trying to fool other people since photography was invented.” – Olivia Parker

“These are stories of the constantly changing ideas of what is real in the human mind, some attempts to make illusions real, and the search for greater order or greater freedom amidst ever changing perceptions of reality.” – Olivia Parker

“What teachers wrote on the blackboard at school was inherently assumed to be true, but I wasn’t so sure. My uncertainty is evident in the blackboard pictures. All I can say is that the chalk drawings and taped paper on my blackboards came from books thought to be true at the time they were published. Blackboards began as small slates, almost an educational toy. They have been around so long they have become an icon of education, but when left unguarded, they can become tools of subversion or items of play again, open to graffiti and games.” – Olivia Parker

“Still lifes permit endless expressive experimentation within a form that remains close to universal human experience.” – Olivia Parker

“The thing is really how people look at things and what they think is real. The more you go along in life the more you find the absurdity of some of it. And so often so much is blocked out, or so much is added by the imagination.” – Olivia Parker

“Human beings are always trying to structure things so that they will be more understandable and more navigable. Games can be working models. Games often have very set rules. Often there is a game board with delineated outlines. There seems to be sort or a pleasure that comes from dealing with a situation that is so manageable or controlled. You know when it’s going to be random or controlled by a throw of the dice. Even when there is that randomness, there are still limits. By contrast, in real life where there are rules and they often break down, things get messy. Its fascinated me, what games are. Almost all civilizations seem to have some.” – Olivia Parker

“I think that the whole process of trying to by creative whether it’s making art or discovering things in a science, any kind of creativity, involves this sort of going off the edge of the map, so to speak, a willingness to go someplace where you don’t know what the structure is going to be.” – Olivia Parker

“If you are not willing to play a little, there are so many possibilities that you won’t see. Often something interesting will come up by accident.” – Olivia Parker

Read our conversation here.

Find out more about Olivia Parker here.

Read Great Quotes By Photographers collections here.

View 12 Great Photographs collections here.


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