“At B&H’s Optic 2018, photographer Keith Carter talks about myths, magic, and mojo. He believes that the best way to elevate your photography is to tell the truth as you know it through your photos, and he stresses that there are great lessons to be learned by revisiting history. We can learn a lot about how to shoot well – even in this digital age – by studying classic photos that pre-date digital photography.”
Find out more about Keith Carter here.
Read our conversation here.
Read quotes by Keith Carter here.
View 12 Great Photographs By Keith Carter here.
Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Keith Carter.
“At a fundamental level photography is much like pointing, and all of us occasionally point at things: look at that, look at that sailboat, look at that tree, etc. etc.” – Keith Carter
“The raw materials of photography are light and time and memory.” – Keith Carter
“Sharpness is overrated.” – Keith Carter
“When I started using the extreme short depth of field and single point of focus, I was trying to replicate my changing eyesight. We have binocular vision; one eye perceives space from the other. I don’t experience a scene visually at F32. It’s more like F1.4.” – Keith Carter
“I think the equipment you use has a real, visible influence on the character of your photography. You’re going to work differently, and make different kinds of pictures, if you have to set up a view camera on a tripod than if you’re Lee Friedlander with handheld 35 mm rangefinder. But fundamentally, vision is not about which camera or how many megapixels you have, it’s about what you find important. It’s all about ideas.” – Keith Carter
“In the history of photography, one process has always replaced another. The tumultuous realignment that’s going on in the photography now is really just a natural evolution. The irony is that none of the processes that have been replaced have disappeared. More people than ever are practicing every approach to shooting and printing.” – Keith Carter
“I love the history of photography and one process has always replaced another. However, very, very few have disappeared.” – Keith Carter
“I think there is an element of magic in photography — light, chemistry, precious metals — a certain alchemy. You can wield a camera like a magic wand almost. Murmur the right words and you can conjure up proof of a dream. I believe in wonder. I look for it in my life every day; I find it in the most ordinary things.” ― Keith Carter
“I think you go through stages in making art. In the first stages you get excited about the medium itself. It offers a very immediate kind of gratification. Here is what I see and here is a picture of it. Then it gets harder. Then you find somebody whose work excites you, such as Robert Frank, and it opens up new doors and so you replicate them or you do work that is influenced by them. I think all of that is very, very useful in terms of your own growth. Because if you have anything at all, you will only do that for a while, and then you use what you have learned and you try to turn it into your own voice. That is where things really get hard. If you can make that leap, then you start making personal work. Personal work is where most people stop. Most people stop when it gets personal. I will tell you my greatest secret, and I probably shouldn’t, but I will tell you anyway. Here is what I think and feel and I hope it is useful to you. If you really want to do something special, if you want to make poetry, and granted most people don’t, but if you do, you have to go beyond what is merely personal. You have to reach a level in the human psyche where we are all the same. That is the real journey.” ― Keith Carter
“I live in a small place more urban centers make fun of, where art is not necessarily the first thing in most people’s minds, and I thought: Gee, I don’t need to go in some exotic locations to make a meaningful picture, why don’t I just play like I came from China and I was transplanted into this culture, with this people and this language and this landscape and this architecture and this music and all these animals I’ve never seen before… why don’t I try to belong to my own place and make pictures that I really would like to make. I started doing that and it was the first time that anybody started paying attention to my work.” – Keith Carter
“I like small things, I like small moments that are almost elliptical, that are not necessarily linear; they’re natural things that happen in the world, but if you look at them from a slight angle there’s more than meets the eye.” – Keith Carter
“I don’t just look at the thing itself or at the reality itself; I look around the edges for those little askew moments — kind of like what makes up our lives – those slightly awkward, lovely moments.” – Keith Carter
“I don’t think science is necessarily incompatible with mystical or spiritual sensibilities. I often weigh them equally in my thinking, which sometimes finds itself into the work.” – Keith Carter
“I like to work in the real world, so I do a lot of searching or just simple looking. But I’m not above tweaking reality and making something up. I don’t think there are any rules in art. It’s not so much what you see as it is the significance you, the artist, see in it.” – Keith Carter
“I’m fond of implied narratives, oblique angles, and leaving a little room for the viewer to finish a picture.” – Keith Carter
“Your ideas come out of the way you conduct your life.” – Keith Carter
“Making these photographs has often seemed to me like a kind of dance. Often I have danced badly and the world has fallen apart at my feet. But sometimes the dance has gone well and my subject and I have moved together as if with shared purpose.” – Keith Carter
“I like what Wallace Stevens said: “Poetry must almost successfully resist intelligence.” I just change the word “poetry” to “my photographs.” – Keith Carter
“Poetry at least in my own life, is really about your own mortality. Everything in poetry makes me think of my mortality. It is not a dark thing in life; it prepares you for the graceful things that happen in your life. It gives me a license to make any kind of picture I want with great courage.” – Keith Carter
“You are lucky if you have one or two epiphanies in your life, particularly a creative one.” – Keith Carter
“I don’t know if I can articulate how I feel. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would make it here.” – Keith Carter
“How do you find a way to say what an extraordinary experience it is to be alive in this world? That is the kind of subject matter I try to work with.” – Keith Carter
“I want to be made better personally. That is the gig.” – Keith Carter
Read my Conversation With Keith Carter.
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Explore The Essential Collection Of Quotes By Photographers.