My friend Tom, The Photo Father, sent me an e-mail with a link to a video and some quotes by Gary Winogrand, a famous Magnum photographer. Tom, who always sends me interesting links, wanted to know if I liked Winogrand. Truthfully, I didn’t know much about him until a few months ago. I really don’t know much about any famous photographers. I wonder if that is unusual for someone who likes photography. However, I did like some of his quotes, on in particular:
I learned a long time ago to trust my instincts. You see? When I’m photographing, I wanna — if I’m at the viewfinder and I know that picture, why take it? I’ll do something to change it, which is often the reason why I may tilt the camera or fool around in various ways. You don’t learn anything from repeating what you know, in affect, so I keep trying to make uncertain.
Certainly, he was not the most eloquent of fellows, but he got the point across. He liked to kind of shake things up. He figured that if he knew how to take a certain picture, why bother? He was all about learning, experimenting, and trusting his instincts. He was certainly less about follow rules or guidelines. He simply wanted to make his picture ‘complete’. He also talked about failure and how you cannot be afraid to fail because most of your shots will be failures. From watching the video, you can see that this guy was prolific, to say the least. He was behind in developing by the sum of about 2,000 rolls when this film was made back in 1982.
I see many photographers, myself included, get caught up in which equipment to use, instead of working to learn how to photograph, or spending too much time talking about photography and less time actually shooting. Since going and shooting more people-oriented photographs, I try to think of ways to challenge myself, ways to become bolder, moving in closer, etc. Perhaps that is why I changed back to film, to give me something different to do, to learn something else.
Words do more for me than any photo that I could possibly view. Photos seem to capture me for a short time, then I move on. Words seem to hang around for a longer time and, even though I cannot remember the exact quote, the intent hangs around. I’ve always been a reader, so many that’s the strongest form of communication for me.
How about you? What form of communication sticks with you better?