[Photographer and filmmaker, b. 1912, Fort Scott, Kansas, d. 2006, New York.]
If you don’t have anything to say, your photographs are not going to say much.
Think in terms of images and words. They can be mighty powerful when they are fitted together properly.
I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapon against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, poverty. I could have just as easily picked up a knife or gun, like many of my childhood friends did…
I was born to a black childhood of confusion and poverty. The memory of that beginning influences my work today, It is impossible now to photograph a hungry child without remembering the hunger of my old childhood.
I’ve known both misery and happiness, lived in so many different skins it is impossible for one skin to claim me. And I have felt like a wayfarer on an alien planet at times — walking, running, wondering about what brought me to this particular place, and why. But once I was here the dreams started moving in, and I went about devouring them as they devoured me.
You have a 45mm automatic pistol on your lap, and I have a 35mm camera on my lap, and my weapon is just as powerful as yours. (To Black Panther militant Eldridge Cleaver)
I have always felt as though I needed a weapon against evil.
The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer. The important people are the people he photographs. They are what make him.