Arnold Genthe
[Photographer, b. 1869, Berlin, Germany, d. 1942, New York.]

 ...I went back to my studio to get a camera. The one thought uppermost in my mind was not to bring some of my possessions to a place of safety but to make photographs of the scenes I had been witnessing, the effects of the earthquake and the beginning of the conflagration that had started in various parts of the city. I found that my hand cameras had been so damaged by the falling plaster as to be rendered useless. I went to Montgomery Street to the shop of George Kahn, my dealer, and asked him to lend me a camera. “Take anything you want. This place is going to burn up anyway.” (On photographing the San Francisco earthquake of 1906) 

Carl Mydans
[Photographer, b. 1907, Boston, Massachusetts, d. 2004, New York.]

 I followed [the boys] to the stakes as the as the cries from the crowds rose higher and higher. The boy’s hands were shaking. And I saw that mine were also. What, among men, is more frightening than the cry for death which rises from the crowd? ... I tried to hold my camera steady as I stepped up to each of them, one by one. I was not in good control. But each in his turn surprised me: for as each saw the camera coming in toward him, his body straightened and he threw back his shoulders and a look of courage came into his face. Inexplicably, that last picture gave strength to the condemned men. 

Lee Miller
[Photographer and model, b. 1907, Poughkeepsie, New York, d. 1976, Sussex, England.]

 No question that German civilians knew what went on. Railway into Dachau camp runs past villa, with trains of dead or semi-dead deportees. I usually don’t take pictures of horrors. But don’t think that every town and every area isn’t rich with them. I hope Vogue will feel it can publish these pictures. (Cable from German front, May, 1945) 

George Rodger
[Photojournalist, b. 1908, Hale, Cheshire, England, d. 1995, Smarden, Kent, England.]

 When I discovered that I could look at the horror of Belsen—4,000 dead and starving lying around—and think only of a nice photographic composition, I knew something had happened to me and it had to stop. 

Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay)
[Boxer, b. 1942, Louisville, Kentucky, d. Scottsdale, Arizona.]

 Emmett Till and I were about the same age. A week after he was murdered... I stood on a corner with a gang of boys, looking at pictures of him in the black newspapers and magazines. In one, he was laughing and happy. In the other, his head was swollen and bashed in, his eyes bulging out of their sockets, and his mouth twisted and broken... I couldn’t get Emmett Till out of my mind, until one evening I thought of a way to get back at white people for his death. 

Harry Benson
[Photographer, b. 1929, Glasgow, Scotland, lives in New York.]

 I was next to Bobby [Kennedy] when he was shot. It was hideous. Part of me wanted to crawl away. I couldn’t… I still wake up in the night and think about it. I even remember the f-stop. It was 1.4. 

David Levi Strauss
[Writer and critic, b. 1953, Junction City, Kansas, lives in New York.]

 The attack on New York’s Twin Towers was the most photographed event in history. It was clearly planned and executed to maximize imaging. The delay between the two crashes seemed calculated to allow cameras—in what is arguably the most densely camera-rich environment in the world—to turn en masse toward the towers like a field of phototropic sunflowers. 

Florence Thompson
[Migrant mother, b. 1904, Oklahoma, d. 1983, Scotts Valley, California.]

 That’s my picture hanging all over the world, but I can’t get a penny out of it. What good’s it doing me? (Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother at 75 years of age living in a trailer park near where the famous photograph was taken and surviving on $331.60 monthly social security.) 
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