Phil Stern
[Photographer, b. 1919, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, d. 2014, Los Angeles.]

 What is a photographer? Some dumb-fucking, uneducated, illiterate schmuck. 
 Look, Matisse I ain’t. You know how they have on the invitations, “a reception for the artist will be held at...” And I say, “Look, you gotta change this. I’m not an artist. I’m a photographer, a skilled craftsman.” 
 You point a camera, and you push the button. The only trouble is that your life is at stake, and I came close to being killed quite a few times. But it turns out that everything seems to work in my favor. God apparently is very generous to atheists. He fucks the believers. That’s my observation. (On his time as a WWII army photographer.) 
 If you’re lucky enough to have captured maybe two hundred memorable pictures, you still haven’t captured that much experience, have you? 
 I’m always looking for perfection. Every photographer, in one way or another, if he’s serious, is. He ain’t ever going to get it. But hope springs eternal. 
 I’ve taken mountains and mountains of stuff, which I occasionally describe as mountains and mountains of shit. It so happens, there’s a little gem here and a little gem there. You dig out those gems. 
 There is no such thing as the perfect picture. That’s the challenge of photography. I was always striving for perfection, even though I knew I could never achieve it. But it kept me reaching for something...