Robert Adams
[Photographer and writer, b. 1937, Orange, New Jersey, lives in Astoria, Oregon.]

 By Interstate 70: a dog skeleton, a vacuum cleaner, TV dinners, a doll, a pie, rolls of carpet... Later, next to the South Platte River: algae, broken concrete, jet contrails, the smell of crude oil... What I hope to document, though not at the expense of surface detail, is the form that underlies this apparent chaos. 
 Nature photography… that acknowledges what is wrong, is admittedly sometimes hard to bear—it has to encompass our mistakes. Yet in the long run, it is important; in order to endure our age of apocalypse, we have to be reconciled not only to avalanche and hurricane, but to ourselves. 
 Lewis Hine said he hoped to show what was wrong so that we would try to change it, and what was right so we could take comfort in it. I don’t often achieve that, but the two goals seem appropriate to me. 
 The final strength in really great photographs is that they suggest more than just what they show literally. 
 Many have asked, pointing incredulously toward a sweep of tract homes and billboards, why picture that? The question sounds simple, but it implies a difficult issue—why open our eyes anywhere but in undamaged places like national parks? 
 Many photographers in fact remind me in temperament of Thomas Hart Benton; in addition to painting, he said, what he liked was to “drink whiskey and talk big.” 
 …talking about pictures as though you could tell anybody how to take good ones is nuts. Pictures are given, not taken. 
 The suburban West is, from a moral perspective, depressing evidence that we have misused our freedom. There is, however, another aspect to the landscape, an unexpected glory. Over the cheap tracts and littered arroyos one sometimes see a light as clean as that recorded by O'Sullivan. Since it owes nothing to our care, it is an assurance; beauty is final. 
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