Sam Abell
[Photographer, b. 1945, Sylvania, Ohio, lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.]

 Photography, alone of the arts, seems perfected to serve the desire humans have for a moment—this very moment—to stay. 
 My best work is often almost unconscious and occurs ahead of my ability to understand it. 
 A mad, keen photographer needs to get out into the world and work and make mistakes. 
 Above all, it’s hard learning to live with vivid mental images of scenes I cared for and failed to photograph. It is the edgy existence within me of these unmade images that is the only assurance that the best photographs are yet to be made. 
 Photographs that transcend but do not deny their literal situation appeal to me. 
 My first priority when taking pictures is to achieve clarity. A good documentary photograph transmits the information of the situation with the utmost fidelity; achieving it means understanding the nuances of lighting and composition, and also remembering to keep the lenses clean and the cameras steady. 
 And that desire—the strong desire to take pictures—is important. It borders on a need, based on a habit: the habit of seeing. Whether working or not, photographers are looking, seeing, and thinking about what they see, a habit that is both a pleasure and a problem, for we seldom capture in a single photograph the full expression of what we see and feel. It is the hope that we might express ourselves fully—and the evidence that other photographers have done so—that keep us taking pictures. 
 As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity, I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs. 
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