[Photographer, b. 1908, Mardin, Armenia, d. 2002, Boston, Massachusetts.]
Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.
I try to photograph people’s spirits and thoughts. As to the soul-taking by the photographer, I don’t feel I take away, but rather that the sitter and I give to each other. It becomes an act of mutual participation.
The art is the challenge which you must meet every day: the technique you should learn to control with time. The science and the art of photography are really one, and not opposed to each other.
Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize.
My chief joy is to photograph the great in heart, in mind, and in spirit, whether they be famous or humble.
When one sees the residuum of greatness before one’s camera, one must recognize it in a flash. There is a brief moment when all that there is in a man’s mind and soul and spirit may be reflected through his eyes, his hands, his attitude. This is the moment to record. This is the elusive “moment of truth.”
If it’s a likeness, alone, it’s not a success. If, through my portraits, you can come to know the subjects more meaningfully, if it synthesizes your feelings toward someone whose work has imprinted itself on your mind—if you see a photograph and say, “Yes, this is the person,” with a little new insight—that is a beautiful experience.