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PAUL STRAND
[1890 – 1976] American photographer
All good art is abstract in its structure. - Paul Strand

I read the other day that Minor White said it takes twenty years to become a photographer. I think that is a bit of an exaggeration. I would say, judging from myself, that it takes at least eight or nine years. But it does not take any longer than it takes to learn to play the piano or the violin. If it takes twenty years, you might as well forget about it! - Paul Strand

Look at the things around you, the immediate world around you. If you are alive, it will mean something to you, and if you care enough about photography, and if you know how to use it, you will want to photograph that meaningness. If you let other people's vision get between the world and your own, you will achieve that extremely common and worthless thing, a pictorial photograph. - Paul Strand - "The Art Motive in Photography" in 1923, British Journal of Photography , Page: 613

The camera machine cannot evade the objects which are in front of it. When the photographer selects this movement, the light, the objects, he must be true to them. If he includes in his space a strip of grass, it must be felt as the living differentiated thing it is and so recorded. It must take its proper but no less important place as a shape and a texture in relationship to the mountain tree or what not, which are included. - Paul Strand

I've always wanted to be aware of what's going on around me, and I've wanted to use photography as an instrument of research into and reporting on the life of my own time. - Paul Strand

Your photography is a record of your living - for anyone who really sees. You may see and be affected by other people's ways, you may even use them to find your own, but you will have eventually to free yourself of them. That is what Nietzche meant when he said, 'I have just read Schopenhauer, now I have to get rid of him.' He knew how insidious other people's ways could be, particularly those which have the forcefulness of profound experience, if you let them get between you and your own personal vision. - Paul Strand

The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep. - Paul Strand

Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness. - Paul Strand

I like to photograph people who have strength and dignity in their faces; whatever life has done to them, it hasn't destroyed them. I gravitate towards people like that. - Paul Strand, Sixty Years of Photographs by Paul Strand, Calvin Tomkins , ISBN: 0900406828 , Page: 32
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Cartier-Bresson has said that photography seizes a 'decisive moment', that's true except that it shouldn't be taken too narrowly...does my picture of a cobweb in the rain represent a decisive moment? The exposure time was probably three or four minutes. That's a pretty long moment. I would say the decisive moment in that case was the moment in which I saw this thing and decided I wanted to photograph it. - Paul Strand, Sixty Years of Photographs by Paul Strand, Calvin Tomkins , ISBN: 0900406828 , Page: 35-36
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The decision as to when to photograph, the actual click of the shutter, is partly controlled from the outside, by the flow of life, but it also comes from the mind and the heart of the artist. The photograph is his vision of the world and expresses, however subtly, his values and convictions. - Paul Strand

The decision as to when to photograph, the actual click of the shutter, is partly controlled from the outside, by the flow of life, but it also comes from the mind and the heart of the artist. The photograph is his vision of the world and expresses, however subtly, his values and convictions. - Paul Strand

The documentary photographer aims his camera at the real world to record truthfulness. At the same time, he must strive for form, to devise effective ways of organizing and using the material. For content and form are interrelated. The problems presented by content and form must be so developed that the result is fundimentally true to the realities of life as we know it. The chief problem is to find a form that adequately represents the reality. - Paul Strand, The Best of Popular Photography by Harvey V. Fondiller , ISBN: 0871650371 , Page: 280
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The material of the artist lies not within himself nor in the fabrications of his imagination, but in the world around him. The element which gives life to the great Picassos and Cezannes, to the paintings of Van Gogh, is the relationship of the artist to context, to the truth of the real world. It is the way he sees this world and translates it into art that determines whether the work of art becomes a new and active force within reality, to widen and transform man's experience. The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep. - Paul Strand, Paul Strand : The World on My Doorstep, the Years 1950 to 1976 by Paul Strand, Catherine Duncan, Ute Eskildsen (Contributor), Cesare Zavattini (Contributor) , ISBN: 0893815454
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Objectivity is of the very essence of photography, its contribution and at the same time its limitation... - Paul Strand

Honesty no less than intensity of vision is the prerequisite of a living expression. This means a real respect for the thing in front of... the photographer... this is accomplished without tricks of process or manipulation through the use of straight photographic methods... - Paul Strand

I go and get the camera and do it. Photography is a medium in which if you don’t do it then, very often you don’t do it at all, because it doesn’t happen twice. A rock will probably always be more or less there juts the way you saw it yesterday. But other things change, they’re not always there the day after or the week after. Either you do it or you don’t. Certainly with things as changeable as shy and landscape with moving clouds and so on, if they look wonderful to you on a certain day and if you don’t do it then, you may never see them again for the rest of your life. So as a photographer you become very conscious – at least I do – that everything is in movement. - Paul Strand, Sixty Years of Photographs by Paul Strand, Calvin Tomkins , ISBN: 0900406828 , Page: 172
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[Bravo] work is rooted firmly in his love and compassionate understanding of his own country, its people, their needs. These ha has never ceased to explore and to medium, which he respects and which he uses to speak meticulously with warmth about Mexico as Adget spoke about Paris. - Paul Strand

I think of myself as an explorer who has spent his life on a long voyage of discovery. - Paul Strand - From Aperture article on Paul Strand.

Objectivity is of the very essence of photography, its contribution and at the same time its limitation… Honesty no less than intensity of vision is the prerequisite of a living expression. The fullest realization of this is accomplished without tricks of processes or manipulation, through the use of straight photographic methods. - Paul Strand, A Concise History of Photography by Helmut Gernsheim , ISBN: 0486251284 , Page: 191
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Photography is only a new road from a different direction, but moving toward the common goal, which is life. - Paul Strand - "Seven Arts", 1917 [cited in: "Creative Camera" April 1974, p. 113]

The unintelligence of present-day photographers, that is of so-called pictorial photographers, lies in the fact that they have not discovered the basic qualities of their medium. - Paul Strand, Disappearing Witness: Change in Twentieth-Century American Photography by Gretchen Garner , ISBN: 0801871670
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Whether a watercolor is inferior to an oil [painting], or whether a drawing, an etching, or a photograph is not as important as either, is inconsequent. To have to despise something in order to respect something else is a sign of impotence. - Paul Strand - Camera Work, 1917

It has always been my belief that the true artist, like the true scientist, is a researcher using materials and techniques to dig into the truth and meaning of the world in which he himself lives; and what he creates, or better perhaps, brings back, are the objective results of his explorations. The measure of his talent––of his genius, if you will––is the richness he finds in such a life’s voyage of discovery and the effectiveness with which he is able to embody it through his chosen medium. - Paul Strand - Letter to the editor, Photographic Journal, Vol. 103, No. 7, 1963, p. 216.

…the camera machine cannot evade the objects which are in front of it. No more can the photographer. He can choose these objects, arrange and exclude, before exposure, but not afterwards… Your photography is a record of your living, for any one who really sees. - Paul Strand - [cited in: “Creative Camera” April 1974, p. 112]

The photographer’s problem, therefore, is to see clearly the limitations and at the same time the potential qualities of his medium, for it is precisely here that honesty, no less than intensity of vision, is the prerequisite of a living expression. This means a real respect for the thing in front of him, expressed in terms of chiaroscuro through a range of almost infinite tonal values which lie beyond the skill of human hand. - Paul Strand - “Seven Arts”, 1917. [cited in: “Creative Camera” April 1974, p. 113]

Photography, which is the first and only important contribution thus far of science to the arts, finds its raison d’être, like all media, in a complete uniqueness of means. This is an absolute unqualified objectivity… - Paul Strand - “Seven Arts”, 1917. [cited in: “Creative Camera” April 1974, p. 113]

And if you can find out something about the laws of your own growth and vision as well as those of photography you may be able to relate the two, create an object that has a life of its own, which transcends craftsmanship. That is a long road, and because it must be your own road nobody can teach it to you or find it for you. There are no shortcuts, no rules. - Paul Strand

Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees. - Paul Strand

No matter what lens you use, no matter what speed the film, no matter how you develop it, no matter how you print it, you cannot say more than you can see. - Paul Strand

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