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

 …talking about pictures as though you could tell anybody how to take good ones is nuts. Pictures are given, not taken. 
 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.” 
 For a shot to be good—suggestive of more than just what it is—it has to come perilously near to being bad, just a view of stuff. (1970) 
 What a landscape photographer traditionally tries to do is show what is past, present, and future at once. You want ghosts and the daily news and prophecy... It’s presumptuous and ridiculous. You fail all the time. 
 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. 
 The job of the photographer, in my view, is not to catalogue indisputable fact but to try to be coherent about intuition and hope. 
 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 sees 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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