Ruth Bernhard
[Photographer, b. 1905, Berlin, d. 2006, San Francisco.]

 Often I have struggled for days to get the image of the photograph to overlap the spirit I see. It is an awesome responsibility, and a lonely one. 
 I was completely uninhibited in my first photographic efforts. I had no notion of how a photograph should be made or should look, or that there were certain things that “couldn’t be done” or were absolutely défendu. I did as I pleased, and I made pictures only of things that held my personal feelings. 
 The ground we walk on, the plants and creatures, the clouds above constantly dissolving into new formations—each gift of nature possessing its own radiant energy, bound together by cosmic harmony. 
 There is no such thing as taking too much time, because your soul is in that picture. 
 My quest, through the magic of light and shadow, is to isolate, to simplify and to give emphasis to form with the greatest clarity. To indicate the ideal proportion, to reveal sculptural mass and the dominating spirit is my goal. 
 Looking at everything as if for the first time reveals the commonplace to be utterly incredible. Each animate and inanimate part of the whole seems to exist in a tight network, interdependent and timeless. I consider a minute insect, a mountain range, and a human body of equal significance. 
 For me, the creation of a photograph is experienced as a heightened emotional response, most akin to poetry and music, each image the culmination of a compelling impulse I cannot deny. Whether working with a human figure or a still life, I am deeply aware of my spiritual connection with it. In my life, as in my work, I am motivated by a great yearning for balance and harmony beyond the realm of human experience, reaching for the essence of oneness with the Universe. 
 My nudes are ideals of my own feelings about being a woman, not an expression of erotic power, or a love object. 
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