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

 It is this strange fusion of psychological factors that excites me... All buildings, all cities that have been greatly lived, that have been greatly dreamed on, and that extend far through time—have this secret life. 
 The physical object, to me, is merely a steppingstone to an inner world where the object, with the help of subconscious drives and focused perceptions, becomes transmuted into a symbol whose life is beyond the life of the objects we know and whose meaning is a truly human meaning. By dealing with the object in this way, the creative photographer sets free the human contents of objects; and imparts humanity to the inhuman world around him. 
 ... I frequently attempt to show in my work, in various ways, the unreality of the “real” and the reality of the “unreal.” This may result, at times, in some disturbing effects. But art should be disturbing; it should make us both think and feel; it should infect the subconscious as well as the conscious mind; it should never allow complacency nor condone the status quo. 
 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 did not start out as a photographer but, instead, as a writer. Whether for good or ill, this fact has inspired and colored many of my concepts ... Through photography I have also tried to tie together and further my active interests in painting, in poetry, in psychology, and in architecture. Whatever value my photography has, it is only because of these other interests. 
 One of my basic feelings is that the mind, and the heart alike, of the photographer must be dedicated to the glory, the magic, and the mystery of light. The mystery of time, the magic of light, the enigma of reality—and their interrelationships—are my constant themes and preoccupations. 
 There is nothing, under present conditions, that can be more easily and exactly reproduced than a technically good black-and-white photograph, and it is utter rot to burden those interested in them with irrelevant biographical trivia and pet longwinded theory. 
 I have approached the buildings as psychological and poetic manifestations—rather than from the more technical viewpoints of the architect and historian (which mostly miss the living spirit behind the forms). 
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