“The first thing a photographer learned was that photography dealt with the actual; he had not only to accept this fact, but to treasure it: unless he did, photography would defeat him. He learned that the world itself is an artist of incomparable inventiveness, and to recognize its best works and moments, to anticipate them, to clarify them and make them permanent, requires intelligence both acute and supply.
But he learned also that the factuality of his pictures, no matter how convincing and unarguable, was a different thing than the reality itself. Much of the reality was filtered out in the static little black and white image, and some of it was exhibited with an unnatural clarity, an exaggerated importance. The subject and the picture was not the same thing, although they would afterwards seem so. It was the photographer’s problem to see not simply the reality before him but the still invisible picture, and to make his choices in terms of the latter.”
John Szarkowski: The Photographers Eye, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 2009.
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Other posts on Szarkowski: Introduction, The Thing Itself, The Detail, The Frame, Time, Vantage Point.
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