Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Walker Evans.
“The eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.” ― Walker Evans,
“Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.” – Walker Evans
“Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.” – Walker Evans
“I think there is a period of esthetic discovery that happens to a man and he can do all sorts of things at white heat.” – Walker Evans
“With the camera, it’s all or nothing. You either get what you’re after at once, or what you do has to be worthless. I don’t think the essence of photography has the hand in it so much. The essence is done very quietly with a flash of the mind, and with a machine. I think too that photography is editing, editing after the taking. After knowing what to take, you have to do the editing.” – Walker Evans
Interviewer: “Do you think it’s possible for the camera to lie?”
Walker Evans: “It certainly is. It almost always does.” – Walker Evans
“I’m sometimes called a ‘documentary photographer’ but… a man operating under that definition could take a sly pleasure in the disguise. Very often I’m doing one thing when I’m thought to be doing another.” – Walker Evans
“Documentary: That’s a sophisticated and misleading word. And not really clear… The term should be documentary style… You see, a document has use, whereas art is really useless.” – Walker Evans
“I used to try to figure out precisely what I was seeing all the time, until I discovered I didn’t need to. If the thing is there, why, there it is.” – Walker Evans
“Detachment, lack of sentimentality, originality, a lot of things that sound rather empty. I know what they mean. Let’s say, “visual impact” may not mean much to anybody. I could point it out though. I mean it’s a quality that something has or does not have. Coherence. Well, some things are weak, some things are strong…” – Walker Evans
“What I believe is really good in the so-called documentary approach to photography is the addition of lyricism. This quality is usually produced unconsciously and even unintentionally and accidentally by the cameraman.” – Walker Evans
“The secret of photography is, the camera takes on the character and personality of the handler.” – Walker Evans
“When I first made photographs, they were too plain to be considered art and I wasn’t considered an artist. I didn’t get any attention at all. The people who looked at my work thought, well, that’s just a snapshot of the backyard. Privately I knew otherwise and through stubbornness stayed with it…” – Walker Evans
“I began to wonder – I knew I was an artist or wanted to be one – but I was wondering whether I really was an artist. I was doing such ordinary things that I could feel the difference. Most people would look at those things and say, ‘Well, that’s nothing. What did you do that for? That’s just a wreck of a car or a wreck of a man. That’s nothing. That isn’t art.’ They don’t say that anymore. – Walker Evans
“Leaving aside the mysteries and the inequities of human talent, brains, taste, and reputations, the matter of art in photography may come down to this: it is the capture and projection of the delights of seeing; it is the defining of observation full and felt.” – Walker Evans
“The meaning of quality in photography’s best pictures lies written in the language of vision. That language is learned by chance, not system; …our overwhelming formal education deals in words, mathematical figures and methods of rational thought, not in images.” – Walker Evans
“The photographs are not illustrative. They, and the text, are coequal, mutually independent, and fully collaborative. By their fewness, and by the importance of the reader’s eye, this will be misunderstood by most of that minority which does not wholly ignore it. In the interests, however, of the history and future of photography, that risk seems irrelevant, and this flat statement necessary.” – Walker Evans
“Somewhere in our search for reality we have passed something by, something important that we no longer find amid the bits and pieces of disassembled matter-something vital that we cannot build out of these parts. There is surely something else, some piece of divinity in us, something that was before the elements, and that owes no homage to the sun.” – Walker Evans
“It is easy to imagine fantasy as physical and myth as real. We do it almost every moment. We do this as we dream, as we think, and as we cope with the world about us. But these worlds of fantasy that we form into the solid things around us are the source of our discontent. They inspire our search to find ourselves.” – Walker Evans
“I work rather blindly. I have a theory that seems to work with me that some of the best things you ever do sort of come through you. You don’t know where you get the impetus and response to what’s before your eyes.” – Walker Evans
“I do note that photography, a despised medium to work in, is full of empty phonies and worthless commercial people. That presents quite a challenge to the man who can take delight in being in a very difficult, disdained medium.” – Walker Evans
“I say half jokingly that photography is the most difficult of the arts. It does require a certain arrogance to see and to choose. I feel myself walking on a tightrope instead of on the ground.” – Walker Evans
“Good photography is unpretentious.” – Walker Evans
“Do we know what we look like? Not really.” – Walker Evans
“…nature photographs downright bore me for some reason or other. I think: ‘Oh, yes. Look at that sand dune. What of it?’” – Walker Evans
“Photography is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances it is anything ever anywhere near a beach.” – Walker Evans
“Incidentally, part of a photographer’s gift should be with people. You can do some wonderful work if you know how to make people understand what you’re doing and feel all right about it, and you can do terrible work if you put them on the defense, which they all are at the beginning. You’ve got to take them off their defensive attitude and make them participate.” – Walker Evans
“It’s easy to photograph light reflecting from a surface, the truly hard part is capturing the light in the air.” – Walker Evans
“Privilege, if you’re very strict, is an immoral and unjust thing to have, but if you’ve got it you didn’t choose to get it and you might as well use it. You’re privileged to be at Yale, but you know you’re under an obligation to repay what’s been put into you.” – Walker Evans
“I never took it upon myself to change the world. And those contemporaries of mine who were going around falling for the idea that they were going to bring down the United States government and make a new world were just asses to me.” – Walker Evans
“It’s too presumptuous and naïve to think you can change society by a photograph or anything else… I equate that with propaganda; I think that’s a lower rank of purpose.” – Walker Evans
“Die knowing something. You’re not here long.” ― Walker Evans
See more in 12 Great Photographs By Great Photographers.
View more in The Essential Collection Of Documentaries On Photographers.
Read more in The Essential Collection Of Quotes By Photographers.
I have been honing my photographic skills over the last several years. Making strides in composition, storytelling and mechanics of photography, I still lacked some finer processing skills and the art of printing. I decided that a print is the ultimate goal of a photographer. There is just something very tangible, very permanent about a print. Anybody can flick through a series of images on an electronic device. But actually taking the time to make a print, matting, framing, hung on the wall and lit well -takes considerable more effort. It also then requires more contemplation by the audience. I think they place more weight and value on the print than in electronic form. They are more willing to commit more time with the print.
During the span of a year, I completed both of John Paul’s Intermediate and Advance printing classes. At that point, I believed that I had achieved the skills required to attempt my own Print Portfolio.
There is just something substantial about the physical print. Let’s face it, we can casually look through tons of images on our electronic devices. They are there and then gone. But having a book full of prints is something completely different. You engage two more of your senses, touch, and smell. Every book has a certain feel and personal experience to it. It evokes more of an emotional response than the electronic equivalent.
So my goal with this project was severalfold.
1. Create a body of work of 24 images
2. Improve my image processing
3. Improve my print quality / skills
4. Share with as many people as I can
A decision had to be made on the format of the book. Landscape, Portrait, or Square. I deiced that the square format was the most versatile of the three. With a square book, I could print any aspect ratio that I wanted and not feel constrained to a particular style. Since I knew this book was going to be a work in progress and may change over time, I thought being versatile was a good trade-off versus being locked into a portrait or landscape format.
The next decision that I had to make was the size of the book. I based this partly on the common size of paper available. The other influence was what kind of reaction I wanted from people when they viewed the book. I made 5 prints on 13×14 inch and 17×18 inch papers and then just stapled them together to simulate the two sizes of the book I was considering. I printed horizontal, vertical and square images. I had my own opinion and then solicited several peoples opinions. The larger size won hands down. You would not think that 4 extra inches would make that dramatic of a difference but it really did. It took the scale of the book from something casual to something cherished. The larger size was just so much more engaging.
The paper choice for my Epson 9900 printer, (after some experimentation) Epson Ultrasmooth. It brought an extra dimension of depth to my ice images. The warmth of the paper gave an extra separation to the printed images. I decided that the easiest form factor would be to use 17″ wide roll paper. Then I would just allow the printer to cut the sheets to a length of 18″. This way I would not have to do any post printing trimming of the prints.
For the physical book, I had a custom binding post book and slip cover made. I choose the binding post style so that it would be easy to replace prints and so that I could completely change the theme of the book if I desired. For materials I choose Black on Black on Black. This might be generic, or called corporate, but I liked the neutrality of it and its future potential. Each of the three surfaces were a different material, so that added a subtle variation to the book. I added just a splash of Red into my debossed logo. The inner front and back sheets are sanded mylar. This essentially adds an end sheet to the book and enhances the experience when opening the book.
I learned a lot through this process. It was a great growth experience. Having a project focuses your mind and creativity. Completing a project gives you a sense of accomplishment. Sharing the experience – I hope I can inspire all of you to do something wonderful.
All About The Image’s Woodrow Walden did a short and sweet interview with me by email recently.
You can read the final results here.
And you can compare the rough cut Q&A version here.
WW Have you always known you wanted to be an artist, or did you have other aspirations as a child?
JPC Art has always been a part of my life but I didn’t commit to making it a career until graduating from high school. At one point, I seriously considered becoming a marine biologist.
WW You were raised in a very artistic household. Your Father of course, is photographer Paul Caponigro, and your Mother is graphic designer Eleanor Caponigro. How much influence would you say that had on your decision to become a photographer and eventually a photo-based digital artist?
JPC Both of my parents have had a tremendous influence on me. They laid my foundations in photography (dad) and painting (mom).
WW What was your first camera?
JPC I don’t remember. The most significant camera I remember receiving as a gift was one of the two Dierdorff cameras my father used to photograph the megalithic monuments in the British Isles.
WW How old were you when took your first photo and what was the subject and do you still have it?
JPC I don’t remember. I remember my first significant moment in photography was photographing a black cat in an Irish field with my mother when I was less than four years old – and the amazed look on my mother’s face when the cat couldn’t be found in any of the several images we took.
Learn more about Sean Kernan here.
Find his book Looking Into The Light here.
View my video conversation with Sean Kernan here.
Read my conversation with Sean Kernan here.
Read 20 Questions with Sean Kernan here.
February 27 – May 10, 2015
The Southeast Museum Of Photography
In 2008, the Southeast Museum of Photography was one of 183 institutions designated to receive a selection of Warhol’s photographs through the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program in honor of the Warhol Foundation’s 20th anniversary. In the spring of 2014, an additional donation of nine photo screen-prints were donated through this program. Through highlights from both donations, this exhibition showcases Warhol’s Polaroids, black-and-white prints, and photo silk-screens to provide a glimpse into the inner workings of this iconic figure in 20th century American art and his complicated relationship with the medium of photography.
Friday, February 27, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Lecture, Book Signing and Exhibition Opening Reception with Catherine Zuromskis, author of Snapshot Photography: The Lives of Images.
“An avid photographer, collector and photographic subject, Warhol incorporated photography into almost every aspect of his aesthetic and social experience.” – Catherine Zuromskis from Snapshot Photography: The Lives of Images, 2013
Learn more about this exhibit here.
Learn more about the Warhol foundation and their programs here.
Explore quotes by Andy Warhol here.
Watch a BBC documentary on Andy Warhol here.
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Photographer Jay Maisel’s book Light, Gesture & Color is full of pithy wisdom about the art of seeing.
Here’s a selection of highlights.
“If you’re not your own severest critic, you are your own worst enemy.” – Jay Maisel
“The whole world is there for you. Gifts will happen, but only if you are patient with life itself, the shooting process, and your own limitations.” – Jay Maisel
“There is no bad light. There is spectacular light and difficult light. It’s up to you to use the light you have.” – Jay Maisel
“The drama of light exists not only in what is in the light, but also in what is left dark. If the light is everywhere, the drama is gone.” – Jay Maisel
“Gesture will survive whatever kind of light you have. Gesture can triumph over anything because of its narrative content.” – Jay Maisel
“We have always wanted to find the ‘it-ness’ of anything we shoot. We want to get as deep into the subject as we can.” – Jay Maisel
“You will, in time, see and show others not just the superficial, but the details, the meanings, and the implications of all that you look at …” – Jay Maisel
“One color alone means nothing. I acts as in a vacuum, with no other colors to relate to. It is only when colors relate to other colors that the fun begins.” – Jay Maisel
“Color is seductive. It changes as it interacts with other colors, it changes because of the light falling upon it, and it changes as it becomes larger in size.” – Jay Maisel
“You cannot accurately remember color …” – Jay Maisel
“’Color’ is quite different from ‘colors.’ In an image with many colors, we find that all the colors compete with each other rather than interacting with each other. The results” colors.” – Jay Maisel
“There really isn’t anything that you could call ‘bad’ color. It all has to do with the amount of color you use and in what context it appears.” – Jay Maisel
“Some have said that if you take a great picture in color and take away the color, you’ll have a great black-and-white picture. But if you’re shooting something about color and you take away the color, you’ll have nothing.” – Jay Maisel
“What you’re shooting at doesn’t matter, the real question is: ‘Does it give you joy?’” – Jay Maisel
“Always shoot it now. It won’t be the same when you go back.” – Jay Maisel
“You must not think of yourself as looking at the stage from the audience. You must think of it as theatre in the round and look at it from all sides.” – Jay Maisel
“We don’t experience light, color, and gesture in a vacuum. We experience it in contexts.” – Jay Maisel
“If you don’t have a camera, the best thing you can do is describe how great it looked.” – Jay Maisel
“It’s a lot easier to take pictures if you always have the camera with you.” – Jay Maisel
“There is no one solution to all problems. It’s the problem itself that can lead to the solution.” – Jay Maisel
“It’s not just when you shoot, or what you shot, or where you shoot, it’s the combination of the three.” – Jay Maisel
“The more light you have in an image, the less drama you get. The details start taking over; the mystery is all gone.” – Jay Maisel
“I love when pictures ask questions or make others ask questions.” – Jay Maisel
“The pictures are everywhere. If you’re open, they will find you.” – Jay Maisel
“Sometimes without shooting a picture germinates in your head. Other times, you keep taking pictures of the same thing and watch the images mature and grow.” – Jay Maisel
“As you see something that yo want to shot and it’s bearing down on you, it’s important to start framing long before the subject gets close to you. The light will reveal itself possibly long before you want to take the image, but you have to wait until the picture comes to you, and if you’ve been anticipating carefully when the subject will be in position, the background will have been figured out in advance.” – Jay Maisel
“Since the background is as important as the subject, you mustn’t let it default by chance. You must control not only vertical and horizontal, you must be aware of the depth of field (or lack of it) that you want in the background.” – Jay Maisel
“Remember that most people (those who are not photographers) don’t even see the things that you missed. Many don’t even look. Ergo, you are way ahead of the game.” – Jay Maisel
“Gesture is not always action.” – Jay Maisel
“It’s my obligation to take out all the ‘wrong’ pictures.” – Jay Maisel
“You have to pick the right tool for the point you’re trying to make and there is no one solution.” – Jay Maisel
“The problem suggests the solution.” – Jay Maisel
“Sometimes as you work, you find that you are learning things about your own perceptions and motivations that are way below you consciousness. If you get lucky, you recognize what you are doing, but all too often we don’t find the connection between our work and our own motivations.” – Jay Maisel
“The awareness of the quality of space in out photos is akin to our awareness of the very air in our photos, the atmosphere that pervades every square inch of our image and yet is often invisible to the photographer.” – Jay Maisel
“When we are given gifts, we must be quick and able to accept them.” – Jay Maisel
“I try not to tell students where to shoot, when to shoot, or what to shoot. I feel finding the picture is the most important part of being a photographer. The actual shooting is of lesser importance.” – Jay Maisel
“You need minimum color for maximum effect.” – Jay Maisel
“Always wait for the trigger. The trigger is the final part of the puzzle, the reason you want to shoot.” – Jay Maisel
“Color really doesn’t have interaction if it’s full of colors. It’s the interaction or relationship among or between colors that makes a color image. This usually happens with a few colors, not a glut of them.” – Jay Maisel
“Forget what it was. Look at what it is.” – Jay Maisel
“You have to learn not only from your failures. You must also learn from your successes.” – Jay Maisel
“You have to let the past successes go, or you’ll never be able to see anew.” – Jay Maisel
“Don’t overthink things in front of you. I fit moves you, shoot it. If it’s fun, shoot it. If you’ve never seen it before, shoot it.” – Jay Maisel
“Had I not been told to look, I would have quite, ignorant of what was really there, because I had ‘made plans’ and was wearing visual and emotional blinders that limited my perceptions and my vision.” – Jay Maisel
“All these factors are only valuable if you’re curious. But in any case, the more knowledge you have, the more things are open and available to you.” – Jay Maisel
“You sort of have to be always aware, even when you’re not thinking of shooting. That’s when the best stuff happens.” – Jay Maisel
“When you shoot, that is opportunity number one to make a statement. When you edit, you have opportunity number two to make your statement. It could be an affirmation of your first choice or could go off in another direction.” – Jay Maisel
“Keep your mind open. You may very well learn something new about yourself and your pictures.” – Jay Maisel
“You must be open to what otherwise may seem to be a detriment to your ‘plans’.” – Jay Maisel
“You always end up with too many pictures to edit and too few that you feel ‘got it’.” – Jay Maisel
“It’s important to realize that the images are everywhere, not just where you want or expect them to be.” – Jay Maisel
“You can’t just turn on when something happens, you have to be turned on all the time. Then things happen.” – Jay Maisel
“Money and fame that photography can bring you are wonderful, but nothing can compare to the joy of seeing something new.” – Jay Maisel
Of course, all of these insights are made even better when paired with his images.
Find the book Light, Gesture & Color here.
Find out more about Jay Maisel here.
Read 20 Questions With Jay Maisel here.
Read more quotes by Jay Maisel here.
Browse my Essential Collection of Photographer’s Quotes here.
You might be tempted to think less of this book because it’s not hard cover, because the reproduction is fine but not stellar, because of the typography is extraordinarily average, or because despite that fact that the title is the stock phrase Jay that is most known for and the selection of images is not definitive. But you’d be missing the point. Light Gesture & Color is one of Jay Maisel’s best books.
Light Gesture & Color is like having an intimate conversation with a master photographer about his enduring passion. Short and sweet. Direct. Pithy. That’s how Jay Maisel serves up a lifetime of hard-earned wisdom. Most of the pages with text have half a dozen lines. One has two – and it’s enough. Better still, each page builds on the other.
You could read this book in a single sitting. I did. I recommend the experience. But I also recommend you read it again – and again. Mark the pages you want to return to for in a few simple lines there are life lessons to be found and refound. It is not that you have to think long and hard to figure out what he’s saying; Jay’s already done that work for you. It is that you’ll need more time to truly internalize what he has found and shared, until it is deeply felt; he did. Do this and you will be a better photographer. You’ll learn to see more. What could be more important?
Find Light Gesture & Color here.
Find out more about Jay Maisel here.
Read 20 Questions with Jay Maisel here.
Read a collection of quotes by Jay Maisel here.
Read Jay’s favorite quotes here.
Here’s an example of Jay at his best.
“Oregon has a remarkable relationship with photography: it is a history filled with documenting the grandeur of the west, staging some of the earliest exhibitions in the country of photographs as works of art, and pushing the boundaries of what a photograph can be.”
Browse The Essential List Of Photography Documentaries here.