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SAM ABELL


[b. 1945] American photographer

And that desire--the strong desire to take pictures--is important. It borders on a need, based on a habit: the habit of seeing. Whether working or not, photographers are looking, seeing, and thinking about what they see, a habit that is both a pleasure and a problem, for we seldom capture in a single photograph the full expression of what we see and feel. It is the hope that we might express ourselves fully--and the evidence that other photographers have done so--that keep us taking pictures. - Sam Abell, Seeing and Shooting Straight by Sam Abell

My best work is often almost unconscious and occurs ahead of my ability to understand it. - Sam Abell, Stay This Moment : The Photographs of Sam Abell by Sam Abell (Photographer), Robert E. Gilka , ISBN: 0934738726
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Above all, it's hard learning to live with vivid mental images of scenes I cared for and failed to photograph. It is the edgy existence within me of these unmade images that is the only assurance that the best photographs are yet to be made. - Sam Abell, Stay This Moment : The Photographs of Sam Abell by Sam Abell (Photographer), Robert E. Gilka , ISBN: 0934738726
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But there is more to a fine photograph than information. We are also seeking to present an image that arouses the curiosity of the viewer or that, best of all, provokes the viewer to think--to ask a question or simply to gaze in thoughtful wonder. We know that photographs inform people. We also know that photographs move people. The photograph that does both is the one we want to see and make. It is the kind of picture that makes you want to pick up your own camera again and go to work. - Sam Abell, Seeing and Shooting Straight by Sam Abell

It matters little how much equipment we use; it matters much that we be masters of all we do use. - Sam Abell, Seeing and Shooting Straight by Sam Abell

In my work, the most elaborate--and essential--accessory is a standard tripod. For spiritual companions I have had the many artists who have relied on nature to help shape their imagination. And their most elaborate equipment was a deep reverence for the world through which they passed. Photographers share something with these artists. We seek only to see and to describe with our own voices, and, though we are seldom heard as soloists, we cannot photograph the world in any other way. - Sam Abell, Seeing and Shooting Straight by Sam Abell

A mad, keen photographer needs to get out into the world and work and make mistakes. - Sam Abell, Stay This Moment : The Photographs of Sam Abell by Sam Abell (Photographer), Robert E. Gilka , ISBN: 0934738726
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As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity, I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs. Photography, alone of the arts, seems perfected to serve the desire humans have for a moment -- this very moment -- to stay. - Sam Abell, Stay This Moment : The Photographs of Sam Abell by Sam Abell (Photographer), Robert E. Gilka , ISBN: 0934738726
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The neatest part of this book I'm working on--to me--are the pictures that show the process... Because photographers... think things through and... it isn't luck, and it isn't random and it isn't accidental. It isn't. - Sam Abell - "Belief, Ambition, and Why We Photograph": A Conversation with Sam Abell (www.photoprojects.org)

...just like some people's instinct to photograph is triggered by vacation... assignments might be that to me and that's why I've built my life around assignments. That was the way to live the photographic life. - Sam Abell - "Belief, Ambition, and Why We Photograph": A Conversation with Sam Abell (www.photoprojects.org)

Photographs that transcend but do not deny their literal situation appeal to me. - Sam Abell, Stay This Moment : The Photographs of Sam Abell by Sam Abell (Photographer), Robert E. Gilka , ISBN: 0934738726
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You know you are seeing such a photograph if you say to yourself, "I could have taken that picture. I've seen such a scene before, but never like that." It is the kind of photography that relies for its strengths not on special equipment or effects but on the intensity of the photographer's seeing. It is the kind of photography in which the raw materials--light, space, and shape--are arranged in a meaningful and even universal way that gives grace to ordinary objects. - Sam Abell, Seeing and Shooting Straight by Sam Abell

My first priority when taking pictures is to achieve clarity. A good documentary photograph transmits the information of the situation with the utmost fidelity; achieving it means understanding the nuances of lighting and composition, and also remembering to keep the lenses clean and the cameras steady. - Sam Abell, Seeing and Shooting Straight by Sam Abell

...actually, ambition won't get you that far. You'll shift gears. You'll see something that's shinier. But if you believe... then you're the long-distance runner. - Sam Abell - "Belief, Ambition, and Why We Photograph": A Conversation with Sam Abell (www.photoprojects.org)

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