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

 As our landing craft neared the beach I saw that the SeaBees had had gotten there before us and had laid a pontoon walkway out from the beach. As we headed for it, I climbed the boat’s ramp and jumped onto the pontoons so that I could photograph MacArthur as he walked ashore. But in the instant of my jumping I heard the boat’s engines reversing and, swinging around, I saw the boat rapidly backing away. Judging what was happening, I raced to the beach and ran dry-shod some hundred yards along it and stood waiting for the boat to come to me. When it did, it dropped its ramp in knee-deep water and I photographed MacArthur wading ashore. No one I have ever known in public life had a better understanding of the drama and power of a picture. (On General Douglas MacArthur’s return to Luzon, January 9, 1945.) 

Kim Phúc
[Human being, subject of iconic photograph, b. 1963, Trang Bang, South Vietnam, lives in Ajax, Canada.]

 I wanted to escape that picture. I got burned by napalm, and I became a victim of war... but growing up then, I became another kind of victim. (On being the napalm-burned child in Nick Ut’s Pulitizer Prize-winning Vietnam War photograph made June 8, 1972) 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Joe Julius Heydecker
[Writer and photographer, b. 1916, Nürnberg, Germany, d. 1997, Vienna.]

 I am guilty: I stood there and took photographs instead of doing something. Even then I was aware of this terrible dilemma. To ask what I could have done than is a coward’s question. Something. Kill one of the guards with my bayonet. Raise my rifle against an officer. Desert and go over to the other side. Refuse service. Sabotage. Refuse to obey orders. Give my life. Today I feel there is no excuse. (On his trips as a Nazi soldier photographing Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. He began in 1941 and ended in 1944 when there was no ghetto and there were no Jews.) 

Eve Babitz
[Model and author, b. 1943, Los Angeles, lives in Los Angeles.]

 You know, also I, you know, I was on those birth control pills and my breasts were like, they hurt... and, you know, it was like they blew up like. You know, they wouldn’t fit into any of my dresses. I had to quit taking those birth control pills... This was like—I mean they were like, I thought they should be photographed really... So they were, for immortality. (On being photographed nude playing chess with Marcel Duchamp at Duchamp’s 1963 retrospective at the Pasadena Museum of Art.) 

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. 
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