[Photographer, b. 1940, Brooklyn, New York, lives in Cambria, California.]
I believe it is the photographer’s function to reveal that which is concealed, even if it be repugnant to the majority, not merely to record what we see around us.
Photography is my method for defining the confusing world that rushes constantly toward me. It is my defensive attempt to reduce our daily chaos to a set of understandable images.
The photographic frame is no longer used as a documentary window into undisturbed private lives, but as a stage on which the subjects consciously direct themselves to bring forward hidden information that is not normally displayed on the surface.
In my old age I no longer see the difference between documentary and staged. (2012, age 71)
My urge to photograph is activated by an almost biological instinct for preservation from disorder. The camera is a mechanical apparatus that extends my natural ability and desire for meaningful organization. I need it to survive.
Perhaps why so much of today’s photography doesn’t “grab us” or mean anything to our personal lives is that it fails to touch upon the hidden life of the imagination and fantasy, which is hungry for stimulation.
The “gay” life is filled with as much cruelty and loneliness as the heterosexual life... I search into my dreams or desires and try to ask myself how these feelings can be made into concrete images... Are they really abnormal, or are they trying to tell us something we have repressed about ourselves, something we don’t want to see, something about the darker side of the human condition itself?
So much of today’s photography... fails to touch upon the hidden life of the imagination and fantasy which is hungry for stimulation. The documentary photographer supplies us with facts or drowns us in humanity, while the pictorialist, avant-garde, or conservative, pleases us with mere aesthetically correct compositions—but where are the photographs we can pray to, that will make us well again, or scare the hell out of us?