Random weekend thought :: image makers, image takers

After drinks with a bunch of other Sheffield photographers this week, someone suggested ‘Image Makers, Image Takers’ (Anne-Celine Jaeger 2007 Thames & Hudson).

I’m only a few interviews in, but there’s a lot of eminently quotable stuff there, with some very big names (Salgado, Richards, LaChapelle, Corbijn and the breathtaking Mary Ellen Mark). Some of the interviews are a little banal (asking about equipment is a little like asking Cormac McCarthy about his typewriter – really not quite the point, even to other photographers – there’s enough kit waffle on the web not to waste time talking to people of this level about lenses rather than vision and meaning and how they make their stories and pictures happen) (but I do like a nice bit of kit!).

But when the photographers start to really talk about what they do and why, it can get very interesting. Eugene Richards is always thoughtful and understands the context of his work. As this week’s random thought, here’s his response to the question ‘what kind of impact do you hope to have with your images?’:

…generally it is pretentious for photographers to believe that their pictures alone change things… A more realistic assessement of photography’s value is to point out that it is illustrative of what is going on… that photographs can prompt dialogue. What we can do as photographers is to carry viewers into the lives of others – the life of an African villager or a drug addict or a new mother – so hopefully viewers will be more understanding and sympathetic. But even if they are, that’s a long, long way from outright change.

There’s a lot more worth reading from him and the other photographers here. Great book.