Manuel Álvarez Bravo
[Photographer, b. 1902, Mexico City, d. 2002, Mexico City.]
Shoot what you see, not what you think.
Telemann once said something interesting. He said that every musician must be whistling something at all times. Well, I say that every photographer must be living at all times.
There is no other art with as great a democratic capacity as photography.
A photographer’s main instrument is his eyes. Strange as it may seem, many photographers choose to use the eyes of another photographer, past or present, instead of their own. Those photographers are blind.
I think that light and shadow have exactly the same duality that exists between life and death.
The word “art” is very slippery. It really has no importance in relation to one’s work. I work for the pleasure, for the pleasure of the work, and everything else is a matter for the critics.
I think that a visual artist’s philosophy develops much more freely than a writer’s or a thinker’s philosophy. It is not so disciplined. The photographer works with both his eyes and his mind.
Before the Conquest all art was of the people, and popular art has never ceased to exist in Mexico. The art called popular is fugitive in character, with less of the impersonal and intellectual characteristics of the schools. It is the work of talent nourished by personal experience and that of the community—rather than being taken from the experiences of painters in other times and other cultures.