[Photographer, b. 1919, New York, d. 2009, Brooklyn, New York.]
A photograph is a photograph, a picture, an image, an illusion complete within itself, depending neither on words, reproductive processes or anything else for its life, its reason for being.
There were no black images of dignity, no images of beautiful black people. There was this big hole. I tried to fill it.
For me, photography must be visual, rather than intellectual and ideological.
My photographs are subjective and personal—they’re intended to be accessible, to relate to people’s lives... People—their well-being and survival—are the crux of what’s important to me.
My pictures are immediate and yet the same time, they’re forever. They present a moment so profoundly a moment that it becomes an eternity…. It’s like the pole vaulter who begins his run, shoots up, then comes down. At the peak there is no movement. He’s neither going up nor going down. That is the moment I wait for…
... I want to show the strength, the wisdom, the dignity of the Negro people. Not the famous and well known, but the unknown and unnamed, thus revealing the roots from which spring the greatness of all human beings... I do not want a documentary or sociological statement, I want a creative expression, the kind of penetrating insight and understanding of Negroes which I believe only a Negro photographer can interpret.
I try to photograph things that are near to me because I work best among things I know. I’m not concerned with startling anyone or discovering new forms; formal qualities are only tools to help state my message.