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To make images is a way of ordering one’s world, of exploring and understanding one’s relationship to existence. … The images we make are often ahead of our understanding, but to say yes to a subject is also to have recognized, however dimly, a part of oneself; to live with that image, to accept its significance is perhaps to grow in understanding.
When you take a picture you haven’t a clue that it is going to be what it is. Maybe you have a clue but you don’t really know. There are too many possibilities. Part of the game is how many balls you can juggle. It is to me. When you are 12 you can juggle two. Maybe when you are 50 you can juggle five. That is an interesting concept to me: how much I can put in and still make it pull together?
I never felt in competition with anybody in war photography. You’re lucky to get your ass in and out again. It’s as simple as that. It’s the easiest photography in the world to shoot somebody who’s been shot up. It doesn’t take a genius. That’s easy. The only thing you need to know is your photography. Get in and if you’re lucky get out. And get as close as you can get.
I’ve been doing photography in one form or another for, oh golly, over seventy years. I don’t carry cameras. I used to. For many years I carried cameras wherever I went. Photograph whatever I saw that was of interest. In the last years, I’ve only used cameras to explore thematic ideas which presented themselves first. And then bring out the cameras to try to explore that idea.
I found that the camera was a comforting companion. It opened up new worlds, and gave me access to people’s most intimate moments. I discovered the privilege of seeing life in all its complexity, the thrill of learning something new every day. When I was behind a camera, it was the only place in the world I wanted to be.
Anything that looks like an idea is probably just something that has accumulated, like dust. It looks like I have ideas because I do books that are all on the same subject. That is just because the pictures have piled up on that subject. Finally I realize that I am really interested in it. The pictures make me realize that I am interested in something.