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RICHARD AVEDON
[1923 – 2004] American fashion photographer
All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth. - Richard Avedon - 1984

I think all art is about control - the encounter between control and the uncontrollable. - Richard Avedon
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My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph. - Richard Avedon

I always prefer to work in the studio. It isolates people from their environment. They become in a sense . . .symbolic of themselves. I often feel that people come to me to be photographed as they would go to a doctor or a fortune teller - to find out how they are. - Richard Avedon

Sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me. My concern is . . . the human predicament; only what I consider the human predicament may simply be my own. - Richard Avedon

And the photographs have a reality for me that the people don't. It's through the photographs that I know them. Maybe it's in the nature of being a photographer. - Richard Avedon

The pictures have a reality for me that the people don’t. It is through the photographs that I know them. - Richard Avedon

I often feel that people come to me to be photographed as they would go to a doctor or a forture teller--to find out how they are. So they’re dependent on me. I have to engage them. Otherwise there’s nothing to photograph. The concentration has to come from me and involve them. Sometimes the force of it grows so strong that sounds in the studio go unheard. Time stops. We share a brief, intense intimacy. But it’s unearned. It has no past...no future. And when the sitting is over—when the picture is done—there’s nothing left except the photograph...the photograph and a kind of embarrassment. They leave..and I don’t know them. I’ve hardly heard what they’ve said. If I meet them a week later in a room somewhere, I expect they won’t recognize me. Because I don’t feel I was really there. At least the part of me that was is now in the photograph. And the photographs have a reality for me that the people don’t. It’s through the photographs that I know them. - Richard Avedon

I hate cameras. They interfere, they’re always in the way. I wish: if I could just work with my eyes alone. To get a satisfactory print, one that contains all that you intended, is very often more difficult and dangerous than the sitting itself. When I’m photographing, I immediately know when I’ve got the image I really want. But to get the image out of the camera and into the open, is another matter. - Richard Avedon

I am only stimulated by people, never by ideas, almost never. It is always an emotional response. It is always an emotional response. It is always between myself and myself and another person – this is what it boils dwon to. I am not interested in the technique of photography or of camera. I am not interested in light. What I want is light in which the subject is free to move in any way without falling into an ugly light. So that I can get to them, to the expression they make, so that they are free to do or express something which is the way I feel. The camera is most in the way. If I could do what I want with my eyes alone, I would be happy. Then when I get it on paper, on the negative, if there was something in the eyes when I took the picture, then when I look at the print, there are things that I can do to emphasize that. But when I’m used to an approach,it becomes like a person that I have no response to. The approach to the print is like the approach to the sitter. Certain qualities in the print say what I mean. I hate photographs, most photographs. I cannot take a picture of something I have not known and experienced myself, because I do not know what is going on. The photograph is not reportage. I do not believe that something reports itself in a photograph. It is redrawn; it is something I am saying. - Richard Avedon, The Best of Popular Photography by Harvey V. Fondiller , ISBN: 0871650371 , Page: 93
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A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion .... All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth. - Richard Avedon, In the American West: Photographs, 1979-1984 by Richard Avedon, Laura Wilson , ISBN: 0810911051
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I've worked out of a series of no's. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these no's force me to the "yes." I have a white background. I have the person I'm interested in and the thing that happens between us. - Richard Avedon - 1994

A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he’s being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks. He’s implicated in what’s happened, and he has a certain real power over the result. - Richard Avedon, 1000 Photo Icons by Anthony Bannon (Foreword), George Eastman House , ISBN: 3822820970 , Page: 712
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I don't really remember the day when I stood behind my camera with Henry Kissinger on the other side. I am sure he doesn't remember it either. But this photograph is here now to prove that no amount of kindness on my part could make this photograph mean exactly what he.. or even I.. wanted it to mean. It's a reminder of the wonder and terror that is a photograph. - Richard Avedon

A portrait photographer depends upon another person to complete his picture. The subject imagined, which in a sense is me, must be discovered in someone else willing to take part in a fiction he cannot possibly know about. - Richard Avedon

Photography has always reminded me of the second child.. trying to prove itself. The fact that it wasn’t really considered an art.. that it was considered a craft.. has trapped almost every serious photographer. - Richard Avedon

I've worked out of a series of no's. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these no's force me to the "yes." I have a white background. I have the person I'm interested in and the thing that happens between us. - Richard Avedon - Found in an interview on his website.

It's in trying to direct the traffic between Artiface [sic] and Candor, without being run over, that I'm confronted with the questions about photography that matter most to me. - Richard Avedon

Youth never moves me. I seldom see anything very beautiful in a young face. I do, though - - in the downward curve of Maugham’s lips, in Isak Dinesen’s hands. So much has been written there, there is so much to be read, if one could only read. I feel most of the people in my book, Observations, are earthly saints. Because they are obsessed, obsessed with work of one sort or another. To dance, to be beautiful, tell stories, solve riddles, perform in the street. Zavattini’s mouth and Escudero’s eyes, the smile of Marie-Louise Bousquet: they are sermons on bravado. - Richard Avedon - 1959

I was overwhelmed. Mrs. Vreeland kept calling me Aberdeen and asking me if a wedding dress didn’t make me want to cry. They’re all serious, hardworking people—they just speak a different language.
So I took my own models out to the beach. I photographed them barefoot, without gloves, running along the beach on stilts, playing leapfrog. When the pictures came in, Brodovitch laid them out on the table and the fashion editor said, ‘these can’t be published. These girls are barefoot.’ Brodovitch printed them. After that, I was launched very quickly. Those candid snapshots were in direct contrast to what was being done. I came in at a time when there weren’t any young photographers working in a free way. Everyone was tired, the war was over, Dior let the skirts down, and suddenly everything was fun. It was historically a marvelous moment for a fashion photographer to begin. I think if I were starting today, it would be much harder.
- Richard Avedon - 1965

And if a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it's as though I've neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up. I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible. - Richard Avedon - 1970

There’s always been a separation between fashion and what I call my “deeper” work. Fashion is where I make my living. I’m not knocking it. It’s a pleasure to make a living that way. It’s pleasure, and then there’s the deeper pleasure of doing my portraits. It’s not important what I consider myself to be, but I consider myself to be a portrait photographer. - Richard Avedon - 1974

My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. But whenever I become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, I feel I’ve lost what’s really there…been seduced by someone else’s standard of beauty or by the sitter’s own idea of the best in him. That’s not usually the best. So each sitting becomes a contest. - Richard Avedon - 1980

When the sitting is over, I feel kind of embarrassed about what we’ve shared. It’s so intense. Snapshots that have been taken of me working show something I was not aware of at all, that over and over again I’m holding my own body or my own hands exactly like the person I’m photographing. I never knew I did that, and obviously what I’m doing is trying to feel, actually physically feel, the way he or she feels at the moment I’m photographing them in order to deepen the sense of connection. - Richard Avedon - 1985

I believe in maniacs. I believe in type As. I believe that you’ve got to love your work so much that it is all you want to do. I believe you must betray your mistress for your work, you betray your wife for your work; I believe that she must betray you for her work. I believe that work is the one thing in the world that never betrays you, that lasts. If I were going to be a politician, if I were going to be a scientist, I would do it every day. I wouldn’t wait for Monday. I don’t believe in weekends.
If you’re headed for a life that’s only involved with making money and that you hope for satisfaction somewhere else, you’re headed for a lot of trouble. And whatever replaces vodka when you’re 45 is what you’re going to be doing.
- Richard Avedon - 1988

I've worked out of a series of no's. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these no's force me to the "yes." I have a white background. I have the person I'm interested in and the thing that happens between us. - Richard Avedon - 1994

A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed. - Richard Avedon - 1933
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