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

 There really is no moment. The picture is the moment. 
 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. 
 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. 
 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. 
 When I teach a class I often give the assignment: “Photograph someone you love.” I ask people to do this so they have a subject about whom they have feelings, a subject that is more than a model, or an object, or a shape, or an idea. In this way, they can judge the result not only by its technical success, but also by how well it describes their feelings. 
 Occasionally we are misled by photography, but generally we have good reason to believe it. 
 In my head I think, “There is a beautiful picture here and by God, short of murder, I’m going to get it. So shut up and hold still!” But what I say is: “You look wonderful. It’ll just take a minute. It’s marvelous. We’re doing something very special.” 
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