John Szarkowski
[Curator, critic, historian, and photographer, b. 1925, Ashland, Wisconsin, d. 2007, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.]

 More convincingly than any other kind of picture, a photograph evokes the tangible presence of reality. It’s most fundamental use and its broadest acceptance has been as a substitute for the object itself—a simpler, more permanent, more clearly visible version of the plain fact. Our faith in the truth of a photograph rests on our belief that the lens in impartial, and will draw the subject as it is, neither nobler nor meaner. 

Diane Arbus
[Photographer, b. 1923, New York, d. 1971, New York.]

 I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them. 

Susan Sontag
[Writer, theorist, and critic, b. 1933, New York, d. 2004, New York.]

 A photograph is not only an image (as a painting is an image), an interpretation of the real; it is also a trace, something directly stenciled off the real, like a footprint or a death mask. 

Edmundo Desnoes
[Writer, b. 1930, Havana, Cuba, lives in New York.]

 Photography has fooled the world. There’s no more convincing fraud. Its images are nothing but the expression of the invisible man working behind the camera. They are not reality, they form part of the language of culture. 

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

 Photographs excel, more than any other form of either art or journalism, in offering an immediate, viscerally emotional connection to the world…. [We] turn to photographs… for a glimpse of what cruelty, or strangeness, or beauty, or agony, or love, or disease, or natural wonder, or artistic creation, or depraved violence, looks like. 

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
[Writer, b. 1835, Hannibal, Missouri, d. 1910, Redding, Connecticut.]

 My dear Sir, I thank you very much for your letter and your photograph. In my opinion you are more like me than any other of my numerous doubles. I may even say that you resemble me more closely than I do myself. In fact, I intend to use your picture to shave by. Yours thankfully, S. Clemens. (Reply to a man who sent him a photograph and claimed to be his double.) 

Sabrina Harman
[U.S. military guard at Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq, b. 1978, Lorton, Virginia, lives in Virginia.]

 If I come up to you and I’m like, “Hey this is going on,” you probably wouldn’t believe me unless I had something to show you. So if I say “Hey this is going on. Look, I have proof,” you can’t deny it, I guess. (On why she took the infamous photos of abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq) 

Andy Grundberg
[Critic, curator, and educator, lives in Washington, D.C.]

 Computer images, like camera images today, will be seen as representations of a simulated, second-degree reality with little or no connection to the unmediated world. This is one lesson we can learn from photographs, and especially from those of the last 25 years: images exist not to be believed, but to be interrogated. 
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