Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I've become increasingly interested in reading and hearing about how other photographers approach their work. What are the thought processes going on behind the images? Really fascinating and surely something to learn from.

A relatively new book of mine is Magnum Stories which I am slowly working my way through. One of the best books on photography I have seen in terms of the way it presents photos from various photographers together with text written by the photographers to support the images and give some insight into their ways of working. Some excerpts...

"There are two ways to think about photography: one is writing with light, and the other is drawing with light. The school of HCB, they draw with light. They sketch with light. The single picture is paramount for them. For me that was never the point. My pictures are always part of a series, an essay. Each picture should be good enought to stand on its own, but its value is as part of something larger." "My projects can take five years, or seven... My statements are my books. It's more like the work of a writer than a photojournalist."

Eve Arnold
"I always believe when you're photographing somebody... it's generally a collaboration. You let them give what they're willing to give you. Usually people are doing something in my pictures, and eventually they forget about me, I hope. If not, then you use that attention the subject is giving you. It's always the subject who's the hero, not the photographer. A lot of photographers become personalities in their own right and use that to impress the subject. By definition you're in contrl, Bit often I want to lose control. I want the subject to be in control, because they will give me something I couldn't possibly know about them."

"If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument."

Bruno Barbey

"I didn't think of it in terms of a story: I was just trying to make as many good pictures as I could in a place that excited me visually." "Today I am interested in minimalist compositions and simple ingredients, and I am looking for strong individual photographs with which to do books and exhibitions."

Ian Berry
"The photog at Magnum that interested me the most, apart from HCB, was Marc Riboud. ... he has hade me aware of the need not just to take good photographs but to get into situations that were in themselves interesting. It's not enough to make a beautiful photograph. You can go out in the courtyard and play with light and shapes and make something interesting, but for waht? For me, there has to be both Content and The Moment."

"The point of 35mm photography for me is to remain unobserved, working with available light, wathcing and waiting and looking, discovering pictures while a scene is in motion. What I am looking for is the one moment, the defining moment, that says what you want to say, that works as a shape and that has impact. ... It's fantastic when it does: looking at the composition and seeing that everything works, that there is nothing intruding that takes away from it. "