W. Eugene Smith on Photography, Art, and Passion

Portrait of W. Eugene Smith

Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.

The purpose of all art is to cause a deep and emotion, also one that is entertaining or pleasing. Out of the depth and entertainment comes value.

What uses having a great depth of field, if there is not an adequate depth of feeling?

…my pictures are complex and so am I. When I am almost symbolistic in writing, there is a more limiting difference’s of accepting, while I can be even more complex in the photographs and people can usually accept them within the framework of their own limitations or lack of limitations – there is no dictionary meaning… they can look up for the photographic image and allow it to confuse them…

Passion is in all great searches and is necessary to all creative endeavors.

An artist must be ruthlessly selfish.

I can’t stand these damm shows on museum walls with neat little frames, where you look at the images as if they were pieces of art. I want them to be pieces of life!

To become neighbors and friends instead of journalists.  This is the way to make your finest photographs.   

Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold. 

The world just does not fit conventiently into the format of a 35mm camera.

I am an idealist. I often feel I would like to be an artist in an ivory tower. Yet it is imperative that I speak to people, so I must desert that ivory tower. To do this, I am a journalist—a photojournalist. But I am always torn between the attitude of the journalist, who is a recorder of facts, and the artist, who is often necessarily at odds with the facts. My principle concern is for honesty, above all honesty with myself.

My photographs at best hold only a small length, but through them I would suggest and criticize and illuminate and try to give compassionate understanding

Hardening of the categories causes art disease.

 

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