images + text
September 18th, 2011


“You should not let yourself be confused in your solitude by the fact that there is something in you that wants to move out of it. This very wish, if you use it calmly and prudently and like a tool, will help you spread out your solitude over a great distance. Most people have (with the help of conventions) turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it.”

- rilke, letters to a young poet

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August 8th, 2011


most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience.  freaks were born with their trauma, they’ve already passed their test in life — they’re aristocrats.

- diane arbus

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July 24th, 2011

the definition of a thing is not what the thing is.

- david sotelo

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June 8th, 2011


“i photograph only something that has to do with me, and i never did anything that i did not want to do.  i do not do editorial and i never do advertising.  no, my freedom is something i do not give away easily.” – josef koudelka

“there is nothing wrong with photography, if you don’t mind the perspective of a paralysed cyclops.” – david hockney

“there is no such a thing as artistic photography.  in photography, like in all things, there are people who can see and others who cannot even look.” – nadar

“i didn’t set out to do something different so much as do something that interested me.  i wasn’t trying to be avant-garde – that’s being fashionable.  you don’t set out to revolutionize art, you make statements for yourself.” – arnold newman

“when i have sex with someone i forget who i am.  for a minute i even forget i’m human.  it’s the same thing when i’m behind a camera.  i forget i exist.” – robert mapplethorpe

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May 17th, 2011

the cruel radiance

The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence by Susie Linfield

“Every image of barbarism…embraces its opposite.  Every image of suffering says not only, ‘This is so,’ but also, by implication: ‘This must not be’; not only, ‘This goes on,’ but also, by implication: ‘This must stop.’  Documents of suffering are documents of protest: they show us what happens when we unmake the world.”

“…what photographers can do, and do peculiarly well, is to show how those without such rights look, and what the absence of such rights does to a person.”

“Photographs show how easily we are reduced to the merely physical, which is to say how easily the body can be maimed, starved, splintered, beaten, burnt, torn, and crushed.  Photographs present us, in short, with physical cruelty and our vulnerability to it.  The vulnerability is something that every human shares; the cruelty is something that shatters our very sense of what it means to be human.”

“They want the worst things on earth — the most agonizing, unjust things on earth — to be represented in ways that are not incomplete, imperfect, or discomfiting…Ultimately, pious denouncements of the ‘pornographic’ photograph reveal something that is, I think, fairly simple: a desire to not look at the world’s cruelest moments and to remain, therefore, unsullied.”

“Because photographs of children can so easily weaken the viewer’s capacity to form considered judgments, they are the perfect vehicle for nurturing simple-minded solutions and thoughtless vengeance rather than political wisdom.”

“The Abu Ghraib images shocked the public, and scared the government, precisely because they were photographs; they could not be spun, denied, or explained away, and though they could be interpreted in various ways, they could not be made to mean anything at all.”

“…the viewer often abandons herself to the action in front of her and must struggle, after the fact, to reassert her autonomy and reconnect to what she knows.  She must undo the process of dissolving; she must reassert her separateness and her ‘heightened presence of mind.’”

“‘Our apology for publishing such material,’ RAWA [Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan] courteously notes on the site.  ‘This is the reality of life for the people of Afghanistan.’”

“This book argues again and again that we need to look at the violence of the world we inhabit; but there is a limit to the visual cruelty that I want to let in.  I do not want to watch Daniel Pearl, or piteous others, as their heads are sliced away from their bodies; I do not want to watch Iraqis or Afghans or Israelis as the sucide bombers transform them from whole human beings into fragments of flesh.  This is not a matter of complex morality or political principle but one of simple breakage.  Here is the point at which I find myself saying not just ‘enough,’ but: ‘Too much.’”

“Capa was, quite simply, extraordinarily alert to the world.”

“…it is hard to sympathize with the resentful cries of these too-tender critics, who seem offended not by the obscene things people do to each other but by pictorial representations of those things.”

“…Marinovich writes: ‘I knew that of all the gory and heart-wrenching scenes I had already photographed that morning, this dead baby was the image that would show the insane cruelty of the attack…But the light sucked.’”

“Peress himself acknowledged this change.  ‘I work much more…like a police photographer,’ he observed in 1997.  ‘The work is much more factual…I don’t care that much anymore about “good photography.”  I’m gathering evidence for history.’”

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May 10th, 2011

adult life

“In the comments section on the NPR site, people complain that I’m bitter and angry and offer no alternative to graduate school.

“Here’s the alternative: Admit that adult life is scary because there is no clear path to success.  Grad school is not a quick fix for the fears of adulthood. Instead, be grateful for the chance to be lost – it means you’re living your own life, because no one can make choices in the exact same way you can, whether they are right or wrong.”

- Penelope Trunk

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March 7th, 2011


tereza siza: many consider you to be a very shy person, distant, and even a bit neurotic.  how does a person so detached achieve the kinds of portraits that you do?

miguel rio branco: one may give the impression of being very shy.  what happens is that, when i do those projects, i let my defenses down.  many people from professional backgrounds consider me a bit unfriendly because i get defensive about certain aspects of my work and because i have no desire to be popular or to impress anyone.  those who like me, like me; and those who don’t, don’t.  i don’t go out of my way for someone who does not like me and this, obviously, can create animosities.  in the world we live in, i think there are many people who are motivated solely by self-interest, and this makes me somewhat distrustful of others.  friendship is the result of a process — it doesn’t happen instantly.  i won’t attempt to explain how one develops intimacy with a person one is photographing because i don’t know.

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February 20th, 2011

what you cannot see

“I like William Blake and, I’m sorry to say, this is precisely why photography bores me, when somebody comes to show me street photography, of people positioned to look into the camera.  Because there are many other more interesting things than going to Africa and taking pictures of people in traditional dress with their faces painted with mud.  I should say again, they don’t deal with how things seem, the important thing is precisely what you cannot see.”

-Duane Michals

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December 26th, 2010


“what would happen if a fire were to destroy my whole archive?  probably nothing.  something maybe, but it would not be so crucial so that i would feel i had to start again from zero.  my work continues to be seen.  it is out there…in the memory of people who have seen it and appreciated it.”

- joan fontcuberta

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November 7th, 2010

real pictures

“the problem with digital is there is no reason to believe photographs any more. in a sense, you could easily postulate and say photography was a shooting star of the twentieth century. it came and went in 100 years…faking pictures is just so easy. let’s hope that there will be a reaction to that. and we will go back to taking pictures on real film and people will say, yes, this is real, this really happened.”

- philip jones griffiths

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