Here’s a selection of my favorite quotes by photographer W. Eugene Smith.
“Available light is any damn light that is available!” – W. Eugene Smith
“Negatives are the notebooks, the jottings, the false starts, the whims, the poor drafts, and the good draft but never the completed version of the work… The print and a proper one is the only completed photograph, whether it is specifically shaded for reproduction, or for a museum wall.” – W. Eugene Smith
“[I crop ] for the benefit of the pictures. The world just does not fit conveniently into the format of a 35mm camera.” – W. Eugene Smith
“Hardening of the categories causes art disease.” – W. Eugene Smith
“Most photographers seem to operate with a pane of glass between themselves and their subjects. They just can’t get inside and know the subject.” – W. Eugene Smith
“What uses having a great depth of field, if there is not an adequate depth of feeling?” – W. Eugene Smith
“Passion is in all great searches and is necessary to all creative endeavors.” – W. Eugene Smith
“The purpose of all art is to cause a deep and emotion, also one that is entertaining or pleasing. Out of the depth and entertainment comes value.” – W. Eugene Smith
“I’ve never made any picture, good or bad, without paying for it in emotional turmoil.” – W. Eugene Smith
“An artist must be ruthlessly selfish.” – W. Eugene Smith
“In music I still prefer the minor key, and in printing I like the light coming from the dark. I like pictures that surmount the darkness, and many of my photographs are that way. It is the way I see photographically. For practical reasons, I think it looks better in print too.” – W. Eugene Smith
“My pictures are complex and so am I.” – W. Eugene Smith
“I am constantly torn between the attitude of the conscientious journalist who is a recorder and interpreter of the facts and of the creative artist who often is necessarily at poetic odds with the literal facts.” – W. Eugene Smith,
“Up to and including the moment of exposure, the photographer is working in an undeniably subjective way. By his choice of technical approach, by the selection of the subject matter…and by his decision as to the exact cinematic instant of exposure, he is blending the variables of interpretation into an emotional whole.” – W. Eugene Smith
“The journalistic photographer can have no other than a personal approach; and it is impossible for him to be completely objective. Honest—yes. Objective—no.” – W. Eugene Smith
“I didn’t write the rules. Why would I follow them?” – W. Eugene Smith
“I am an idealist. I often feel I would like to be an artist in an ivory tower. Yet it is imperative that I speak to people, so I must desert that ivory tower. To do this, I am a journalist—a photojournalist. But I am always torn between the attitude of the journalist, who is a recorder of facts, and the artist, who is often necessarily at odds with the facts. My principle concern is for honesty, above all honesty with myself…” – W. Eugene Smith
“My photographs at best hold only a small length, but through them I would suggest and criticize and illuminate and try to give compassionate understanding.” – W. Eugene Smith
“The photographer must bear the responsibility for his work and its effect …[for] photographic journalism, because of its tremendous audience reached by publications using it, has more influence on public thinking than any other branch of photography.” – W. Eugene Smith
“… to became neighbours and friends instead of journalists. This is the way to make your finest photographs.” – W. Eugene Smith
“I try to take what voice I have and I give it to those who don’t have one at all.” – W. Eugene Smith
“I would that my photographs might be, not the coverage of a news event, but an indictment of war.” – W. Eugene Smith
“Many claim I am a photographer of tragedy. In the greater sense I am not, for though I often photograph where the tragic emotion is present, the result is almost invariably affirmative.” – W. Eugene Smith
“I can’t stand these damn shows on museum walls with neat little frames, where you look at the images as if they were pieces of art. I want them to be pieces of life!” – W. Eugene Smith
“…and each time I pressed the shutter release it was a shouted condemnation hurled with the hope that the picture might survive through the years, with the hope that they might echo through the minds of men in the future – causing them caution and remembrance and realization.” – W. Eugene Smith
“Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.” – W. Eugene Smith
Read more Photographer’s Quotes here.
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Read conversations with photographers here.