Carrie Mae Weems
[Artist, b. 1953, Portland, Oregon, lives in Syracuse, New York.]

 A black idiom is simply one that comes out of the peculiar social, economic and cultural conditions that mold black people. If a photographer is sensitive and understands the idiosyncratic gestures and rituals of the culture and employs this understanding while shooting, then that person is working out of a black idiom or a black esthetic. 

Peter Bunnell
[Writer and photo historian, b. 1937, Poughkeepsie, New York, lives in Princeton, New Jersey.]

 You see in the photograph what you are. 

Frederick Douglass
[Writer, orator, activist, b. 1818, Talbot County, Maryland, d. 1895, Washington, D.C..]

 Negroes can never have impartial portraits at the hands of white artists. It seems to us next to impossible for white men to take likenesses of black men, without most grossly exaggerating their distinctive features. 

Chuck Close
[Artist, b. 1940, Monroe, Washington, lives in New York.]

 When I went to pick [artist Joe Zucker] up to photograph him, I didn’t recognize him. He has curly, blonde, bushy hair—but he had bought a jar of Vaseline, greased his hair down, borrowed someone’s white shirt and tie, someone else’s glasses, and he looked like a used car salesman. He understood that all he had to do was provide me with the evidence that someone like that existed for a 100th of a second. It didn’t necessarily have to be him. 

Thomas Ruff
[Photographer, b. 1958, Zell, Germany, lives in Dusseldorf, Germany.]

 I don’t believe in the psychologizing portrait photography that my colleagues do, trying to capture the character with a lot of light and shade. That’s absolutely suspect to me. I can only show the surface. Whatever goes beyond that is more or less chance. 

Luigi Ghirri
[Photographer, b. 1943, Scandiano, Italy, d. 1992, Reggio Emilia, Italy.]

 The meaning that I am trying to render through my work is a verification of how it is still possible to desire and face a path of knowledge, to be able finally to distinguish the precise identity of man, things, life, from the image of man, things, and life. 

Chester Higgins
[Photographer, b. 1946, Lexington, Kentucky, lives in Brooklyn, New York.]

 I had a choice: I could wail against the racism of the [prevailing] pictures or I could go and create photographs that would tell a contrary story. 

Duane Michals
[Photographer, b. 1932, McKeesport, Pennsylvania, lives in New York.]

 You can never capture a person in picture, never. You might get an interesting expression or gesture. I almost never research a picture subject ahead of time. I think Karsh is full of baloney. Can you imagine spending a whole week out in La Jolla with Jonas Salk soaking up his ambiance, then wind up making him look as if he’s in the studio in Ottawa with his thumb under his chin? 
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