John Loengard
[Photographer, editor, and critic, b. 1934, New York, lives in New York.]

 There really is no moment. The picture is the moment. 
 Usually I think if there is something imperfect in a photograph it makes the picture more real. Photographs that are slick, smooth, and perfect seem less honest to me. 
 A Ming vase can be well-designed and well-made and is beautiful for that reason alone. I don’t think this can be true for photography. Unless there is something a little incomplete and a little strange, it will simply look like a copy of something pretty. We won’t take an interest in it. 
 Working alone on stories, I began to feel the anonymity of motels on interstate highways reached by jet planes and rental cars. It was hard to have a good time, and the only way I could make the loneliness excusable was by taking pictures I thought were very good, even valuable. 
 You’ve only got a feeling that you have a picture when you’re shooting. All photographers have that feeling—but I think that was particularly so before the digital age. Now you can immediately see what you shot. 
 The world doesn’t happen in moments. The camera points at the world and the shutter opens and closes and turns the three-dimensional world into a two-dimensional image and the image is the reality you’re dealing with. The picture and the moment are synonymous and can never be repeated. 
 To understand photographs, I believe you have to understand that the camera just shows what it shows. Photography may be moving, exciting, compassionate, or clever. But the camera cannot lie. Neither can a slide rule, a balance. If you want to lie, you have to do it with words. 
 Occasionally we are misled by photography, but generally we have good reason to believe it. 
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