Fidel Castro
[Dictator, b. 1926, Mayari, Cuba, lives in Havana.]

 We are very sorry that we didn’t have a photographer with us during the revolutionary war or during the first years of struggle, while we were underground, or during the advance to Moncada. We should have taken some photographs but we didn’t think about it... We would have loved it if only an amateur had photographed us. Even Che, who was an amateur photographer and liked to try almost everything, didn’t have a camera with him at the time... Now, after almost thirty years, you feel sadness and regret for not carrying a camera with which you could have taken the pictures that would now speak for themselves. On those occasions, as on so many others, it is only after time passes that people realize that they have been through historical moments that will never be repeated, and that the memory fades. 

Peter Conrad
[Critic, b. 1948, Hobart, Tasmania, lives in Oxford, England.]

 The camera is a killing chamber, which speeds up the time it claims to be conserving. Like coffins exhumed and prised open, the photographs put on show what we were and what we will be again. 

Anthony Aziz, Sammy Cucher

 The buzz and excitement generated by media technologies are but a logical reaction in a culture steeped in materialism: it creates the illusion that we can reduce every mental act into matter, with no regard to how poor or incomplete that alchemy might be. As the technology progresses and the possibility of manipulating and communicating exclusively with images grows, mental spaces will be eradicated, fixed into flattened expanses of unambiguous surfaces. 

John Coplans
[Artist, critic, and curator, b. 1920, London, d. 2003, New York.]

 The principal thing is the question of how our culture views age: that old is ugly. Take a photographer like Mapplethorpe. Every single photograph of his is about classical notions of beauty, of young beautiful black men, young beautiful women, and he selects subjects who are essentially interesting and good-looking and extremely physical. I can’t stand them. 

Raymond Carver
[Writer, b. 1938, Clatskanie, Oregon, d. 1988, Port Angeles, Washington.]

 You want this picture or not? 

Jane Welsh Carlyle
[Writer, b. 1801, Haddington, Scotland, d. 1866, London, England.]

 Blessed be the inventor of photography! I set him above even the inventor of chloroform! It has given more positive pleasure to poor suffering humanity than anything else that has cast up in my time or is like to—this art by which even the poor can possess themselves of tolerable likenesses of their absent dear ones. And mustn’t it be acting favourably on the morality of the country? (1859) 

Harry Callahan
[Photographer, b. 1912, Detroit, Michigan, d. 1999, Atlanta, Georgia.]

 To be a photographer, one must photograph. No amount of book learning, no checklist of seminars attended, can substitute for the simple act of making pictures. Experience is the best teacher of all. And for that, there is no guarantee that one will become an artist. Only the journey matters. 

Will Connell
[Photographer, b. 1898, d. 1961, Los Angeles.]

 Photography is a language, a powerful modern method of talking to people; the camera is merely the tool that makes this communication possible.