Larry Sultan
[Photographer, b. 1946, Brooklyn, New York, d. 2009, Greenbrae, California.]

 I always thought of a great photograph as if some creature walked into my room; it’s like, how did you get here? What are you made of? And no matter how many pictures I make, I have never depleted that quality of mystery. 
 What’s important to me is that [photographs] have the appearance of being documents of what goes on. I like the illusion of veracity, that they look like life rather than movie stills. I don’t want them to look fabricated. 
 I love making pictures, even if most of the results are lousy. 
 Ambiguity is really important to me. Part of the difficulty facing photographers is that almost any subject matter has accumulated a representational history, so to find a new discursive space, a space to wander around those subject matters, is a real challenge. 
 Like a ventriloquist who laughs at his dummy’s jokes, I keep trying to make photographs that seduce me into believing in the image—all the time knowing better, but believing anyway. 
 …the more you try to control the world the less magic you get. It’s really about being open and surprised. 
 Literature especially has an interesting relationship to photography—to observation, to description, to fiction: taking something that you see and elaborating, jamming, and I think, staging.... taking that moment of observation and letting it go, giving it some wings, following it, rather than nailing it. You’re riffing off of reality. 
 I think what moved me to be a photographer was that one could make images very different than other art forms—that were populist, that dealt with daily life, that dealt with our times… 
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