Peter Henry Emerson
[Writer and photographer, b. 1856, LaPalma, Cuba, d. 1936, Falmouth, Cornwall, England.]
I have, I regret it deeply, compared photographs to great works of art and photographers to great artists. I was rash and thoughtless and my punishment is having to acknowledge it now… (1891, in a recantation of his earlier advocacy of photography.)
Many photographers think they are photographing nature when they are only caricaturing her.
It must not be forgotten that water-colour drawing and etching have both been despised in their time by artists, dealers, and the public, but they have lived to conquer for themselves places of honour. The promising boy, photography, is but fifty years old. What prophet will venture to cast his horoscope for the year 2000? (1889)
“A photograph,” it has been said, “shows the art of nature rather that the art of the artist.” This is mere nonsense, as the same remark might by applied equally to all the fine arts. Nature does not jump into the camera, focus itself, expose itself, develop itself, and print itself. (1889)
The limitations of photography are so great that, though the results may, and sometimes do give a certain aesthetic pleasure, the medium must rank the lowest of all arts, lower than any graphic art, for the individuality of the artist is cramped, in short, it can hardly show itself. (1891, in a recantation of his earlier advocacy of photography.)
It is not the apparatus that chooses the picture, but the man who wields it.
... if twenty photographers were sent to a district of limited area, and told to take a given composition, the result would be twenty different renderings. Photographs of any quality have individuality as much as any other works of art. (1889)
Do not call yourself an “artist photographer” and make “artist painters” and “artist sculptors” laugh; call yourself a photographer and wait for artists to call you brother.