Walker Evans
[Photographer, b. 1903, St. Louis, Missouri, d. 1975, New Haven, Connecticut.]

 It’s too presumptuous and naïve to think you can change society by a photograph or anything else... I equate that with propaganda; I think that’s a lower rank of purpose. 
 ...nature photographs downright bore me for some reason or other. I think: “Oh, yes. Look at that sand dune. What of it?” 
 Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long. 
 [Photography] is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood, or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances is it anything ever anywhere near a beach. 
 With the camera, it’s all or nothing. You either get what you’re after at once, or what you do has to be worthless. 
 A garbage can, occasionally, to me at least, can be beautiful. That’s because you’re seeing. Some people are able to see that—see it and feel it. I lean toward the enchantment, the visual power, of the esthetically rejected subject. 
 I say half jokingly that photography is the most difficult of the arts. It does require a certain arrogance to see and to choose. I feel myself walking on a tightrope instead of on the ground. 
 When you say “documentary,” you have to have a sophisticated ear to receive that word. It should be documentary style, because documentary is police photography of a scene and a murder ... that’s a real document. You see, art is really useless, and a document has use. And therefore, art is never a document, but it can adopt that style. I do it. I’m called a documentary photographer. But that presupposes a quite subtle knowledge of this distinction. 
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