Lee Friedlander
[Photographer, b. 1934, Aberdeen, Washington, lives in New York.]

 The world makes up my pictures, not me. 

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. 

Allan Sekula
[Photographer, writer, and theorist, b. 1951, Erie, Pennsylvania, d. 2013, Los Angeles.]

 Documentary photography has amassed mountains of evidence. And yet, in this pictorial presentation of scientific and legalistic “fact,” the genre has contributed much to spectacle, to retinal excitation, to voyeurism, to terror, envy and nostalgia, and only a little to the critical understanding of the social world. 
 A truly critical social documentary will frame the crime, the trial, and the system of justice and its official myths. Artists working toward this end may or may not produce images that are theatrical and overtly contrived, they may or may not present texts like fiction. Social truth is something other than a manner of convincing style. 

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

 Facts cling to photographs like dust. 

Laurie Simmons
[Photographer, b. 1949, Long Island, New York, lives in New York.]

 People are much more willing nowadays to believe that pictures lie than [that] they can express any kind of truth. 

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

 When you say “documentary,” you have to have a sophisticated ear to receive that word. It should be documentary style, because documentary is police photography of a scene and a murder ... that’s a real document. You see, art is really useless, and a document has use. And therefore, art is never a document, but it can adopt that style. I do it. I’m called a documentary photographer. But that presupposes a quite subtle knowledge of this distinction. 

Paul Graham
[Photographer, b. 1956, Stafford, England, lives in New York.]

 The problem is that the term “documentary” is used to describe nearly every photographer who works from life-as-it-is. If someone makes food with vegetables from their garden, are they doing documentary cooking? 
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