James Nachtwey
[Photographer, b. 1948, Syracuse, New York, lives in New York.]

 The greatest statesmen, philosophers, humanitarians… have not been able to put an end to war. Why place that demand on photography? 

Henri Cartier-Bresson
[Photographer and painter, b. 1908, Chanteloup, France, d. 2004, Paris.]

 The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are photographing rocks! (1930s) 

Marion Post Wolcott
[Photographer, b. 1910, Bloomfield, New Jersey, d. 1990, Santa Barbara, California.]

 We were all inspired and revved up by the whole New Deal idea, and of changing things and trying to get people to understand what was going on, and what the condition of the country was. We were trying to show this graphically, because people will look at photographs when they won’t read things. We hoped that this would make an impact and change people’s ideas and their opinions. 

Walker Evans
[Photographer, b. 1903, St. Louis, Missouri, d. 1975, New Haven, Connecticut.]

 It’s too presumptuous and naïve to think you can change society by a photograph or anything else... I equate that with propaganda; I think that’s a lower rank of purpose. 

Susie Linfield
[Writer and critic, New York, lives in New York.]

 The ability of photographs to conjure deep emotion is one of their great strengths. But this power—precisely because it is divorced from narrative, political context, and analysis—is equally a danger. Ironically, the more searing an image… the more misleading it can be. 

W. Eugene Smith
[Photographer, b. 1918, Wichita, Kansas, d. 1978, Tucson, Arizona.]

 In printing the photographs of the white-gowned Klan members I ran into considerable difficulty. There were several with uncovered faces and these faces were vividly dark in comparison to the white-white of the gowns that it was almost impossible to keep them from appearing black. I am terribly sorry. (Apology to his editor about images from his 1951 photo essay on the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina.)  

Susie Linfield
[Writer and critic, New York, lives in New York.]

 Without a political context, it is impossible to understand a photograph. This is true even—or especially—of political photographs themselves. 

Subcommander Marcos (Rafael Sebastian Guillén Vicente)
[Professor and revolutionary, b. 1957, Tampico, Mexico, lives in Chiapas, Mexico.]

 Every time the diaphragm winks, the camera repeats the question that now travels through cyberspace and invades, as a modern virus, the memories of machines, men and women. The question that history sets forth. The question which forces us to define ourselves and whose answer makes us human: On which side are you? 
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