Clarence John Laughlin
[Photographer, b. 1905, Lake Charles, Louisiana, d. 1985, New Orleans, Louisiana.]

 As a whole, I am interested in the symbolic, rather than the literal use of the camera. 
 The mystery of light [and] the enigma of time form the twin pivots around which all my work revolves. In addition... my work attempts to create a mythology for our contemporary world. 
 Let us see as steadily and completely as possible the realities of our age: the wasted lives, the scattered and misused resources (human and material), the steel magic of the misdirected machinery, the mad clockwork tragedy of it all. 
 ... dissatisfaction with one’s self and dissatisfaction with the world—is necessary—it is one of the prime things that keeps the artist going on—that drives him—happiness, as such, must come in between times, as best it can. 
 Everything that I see must become personal; otherwise, it is dead and mechanical. Our only chance to escape the blight of mechanization, of acting and thinking alike, of the huge machine which society is becoming, is to restore life to all things through the saving and beneficent power of the human imagination. 
 In all my work I have been animated with three convictions: 1) that there is no essential reason why the creative imagination cannot work with a ray of light acting upon a sensitized surface as effectively as it can with a brush laden with pigment, 2) that photography is one of the most authentic and integral modes of expression possible in the particular kind of world in which we live, [and] 3) that in photography, as in the other arts, the quality of a man's imagination is the only thing that counts—technique and technical proficiency mean nothing in themselves. 
 I attempt, through much of my work, to animate all things—even so-called “inanimate” objects—with the spirit of man. I have come, by degrees, to realize that this extremely animistic projection rises, ultimately, from my profound fear and disquiet over the accelerating mechanization of man’s life; and the resulting attempts to stamp out individuality in all spheres of man’s activity—this whole process being one of the dominant expressions of our military-industrial society. The creative photographer sets free the human contents of objects; and imparts humanity to the inhuman world around him. 
 You don’t go out to accidentally find something that’s going to make a good picture, but [instead you find it] in yourself, knowing already what you want to do... at least subconsciously if not consciously; you find the thing in so-called nature or so-called reality which corresponds to this preconceived, this pre-sensitized, concept, which is hidden somewhere in your imagination or your subconscious... You go out and find what you are prepared to see. 
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