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

 There really is no moment. The picture is the moment. 
 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. 
 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. 
 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. 
 The fact is that the camera is literal if anything, which gives it something in common with a thermometer... Often the tension that exists between the pictorial content of a photograph and its record of reality is the picture’s true beauty. There is sleight of hand in photography... you make the viewer think he’s seeing everything while at the same time you make him realize he’s not. I try to make my pictures seem reasonable and then, at the last minute, pull the rug from beneath the viewer’s feet, very gently so there’s a little thrill. 
 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. 
 Perishability in a photograph is important in a picture. If a photograph looks perishable we say, “Gee, I’m glad I have that moment.” 
 Like doctors, photographers work with what is present. I suspect our chief emotions are anticipation, frustration, and patience, balanced by a marvelous sense of elation when things go right—when we think we’ve captured within a photograph some missing feeling, some sense of beauty, or bit of mystery in the fabric of life. 
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