Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
[Writer, b. 1835, Hannibal, Missouri, d. 1910, Redding, Connecticut.]
My dear Sir, I thank you very much for your letter and your photograph. In my opinion you are more like me than any other of my numerous doubles. I may even say that you resemble me more closely than I do myself. In fact, I intend to use your picture to shave by. Yours thankfully, S. Clemens. (Reply to a man who sent him a photograph and claimed to be his double.)
... No photograph ever was good, yet, of anybody—hunger and thirst and utter wretchedness overtake the outlaw who invented it! It transforms into desperadoes the weakest of men; depicts sinless innocence upon the pictured faces of ruffians; gives the wise man the stupid leer of a fool, and the fool an expression of more than earthly wisdom.
Ten thousand pulpits and ten thousand presses are saying the good word for me all the time… Then that trivial little kodak, that a child can carry in its pocket, gets up, uttering never a word, and knocks them dumb!
The [Kodak is] the only witness I have encountered in my long experience that I couldn’t bribe.
The sun never looks through a photographic instrument that does not print a lie. The piece of glass it prints is well named a “negative”—a contradiction—a misrepresentation—a falsehood. I speak feelingly of this matter, because by turns the instrument has represented me to be a lunatic, A Solomon, a missionary, a burglar and an abject idiot. (1866)
You can’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.
A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever.