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

 One terrible truth about photographs is that they can only ever show us what happened, never what is happening or will happen. They are always about something that is gone, and so are in league with death. 

Donald McCullin
[Photographer, b. 1935, Finsbury Park, London, lives in Somerset, England.]

 Sometimes it felt like I was carrying pieces of human flesh back home with me, not negatives. It’s as if you are carrying the suffering of the people you have photographed. 

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

 On June 23 I saw my first dead body I took pictures! The other day I heard my first grenade go off. Fun! (To her father, June 23, 2003, written from Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq) 

Dennis Stock
[Photographer, b. 1928, New York, d. 2010, Sarasota, Florida.]

 The similarity between Van Gogh, Haiku poetry, and good photography is the concern for mortality. That things are very fleeting, that there are people who are more sensitive to death than others. The threat of time is of great concern to them. And the camera is a very appropriate instrument for many. 

Joel-Peter Witkin
[Photographer, b. 1939, Brooklyn, New York, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.]

 I never photograph anything I don’t believe in. If I love working with death, it’s because even in death I find this power of reality that no sculptor or painter could recreate, not even a Michelangelo or a Da Vinci. 

Siegfried Kracauer
[Media critic and sociologist, b. 1889, Frankfurt, Germany, d. 1966, New York.]

 ...the world has become a photographable present, and the photographed present has been entirely eternalized. Seemingly ripped from the clutch of death, in reality it has succumbed to it. 

Joan Didion
[Writer, b. 1934, Sacramento, California, lives in New York.]

 …if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead. Let them become the photograph on the table. 

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

 All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. 
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