Stephen Shore
[Photographer, b. 1947, New York, lives in New York.]

 Even in ordinary reproduction [photography] verges on facsimile. 
 It’s the bane of my existence that I see photography not as a way of recording personal experience particularly, but as this process of exploring the world and the medium. I have to be reminded, “It’s your son’s birthday party. Bring a camera.” And then, when I’m there, “Take a picture,” because it doesn’t occur to me to use it as this memorializing thing. 
 I wanted to make pictures that felt natural, that felt like seeing, that didn’t feel like taking something in the world and making a piece of art out of it. 
 I went on to Flickr and it was just thousands of pieces of shit, and I just couldn’t believe it. And it’s just all conventional, it’s all cliches, it’s just one visual convention after another. 
 Photographers have to impose order, bring structure to what they photograph. It is inevitable. A photograph without structure is like a sentence without grammar—it is incomprehensible, even inconceivable. 
 There’s something arbitrary about taking a picture. So I can stand at the edge of a highway and take one step forward and it can be a natural landscape untouched by man and I can take one step back and include a guardrail and change the meaning of the picture radically... I can take a picture of a person at one moment and make them look contemplative and photograph them two seconds later and make them look frivolous. 
 I was photographing every meal I ate, every person I met, every waiter or waitress who served me, every bed I slept in, every toilet I used. (On his 1972 American road trip) 
 I enjoy the camera. Beyond that it is difficult to explain the process of photographing except by analogy: The trout streams where I flyfish are cold and clear and rich in the minerals that promote the growth of stream life. As I wade a stream I think wordlessly of where to cast the fly. Sometimes a difference of inches is the difference between catching a fish and not. When the fly I’ve cast is on the water my attention is riveted to it. I’ve found through experience that whenever—or so it seems—my attention wanders or I look away then surely a fish will rise to the fly and I will be too late setting the hook. I watch the fly calmly and attentively so that when the fish strikes—I strike. Then the line tightens, the playing of the fish begins, and time stands still. 
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