WALKER EVANS
[1903 - 1975] American photographer

 
Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts. - Walker Evans
Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long. - Walker Evans
The photographs are not illustrative. They, and the text, are coequal, mutually independent, and fully collaborative. By their fewness, and by the importance of the reader’s eye, this will be misunderstood by most of that minority which does not wholly ignore it. In the interests, however, of the history and future of photography, that risk seems irrelevant, and this flat statement necessary. - Walker Evans , Let Us Now Praise Famous Men : Three Tenant Families by James Agee, Walker Evans , ISBN: 0618127496
I think there is a period of esthetic discovery that happens to a man and he can do all sorts of things at white heat. - Walker Evans
With the camera, it's all or nothing. You either get what you're after at once, or what you do has to be worthless. I don't think the essence of photography has the hand in it so much. The essence is done very quietly with a flash of the mind, and with a machine. I think too that photography is editing, editing after the taking. After knowing what to take, you have to do the editing. - Walker Evans
1971
Leaving aside the mysteries and the inequities of human talent, brains, taste, and reputations, the matter of art in photography may come down to this: it is the capture and projection of the delights of seeing; it is the defining of observation full and felt. - Walker Evans
The meaning of quality in photography’s best pictures lies written in the language of vision. That language is learned by chance, not system; ...our overwhelming formal education deals in words, mathematical figures and methods of rational thought, not in images. - Walker Evans
[cited in: "Creative Camera International Year Book 1978", Coo Press, London, 1977, p. 111]
Documentary: That’s a sophisticated and misleading word. And not really clear… The term should be documentary style… You see, a document has use, whereas art is really useless. - Walker Evans , World History of Photography by Naomi Rosenblum , ISBN: 0789209462 , Page: 340
Art in America, March-April 1971
Photography is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances it is anything ever anywhere near a beach. - Walker Evans
American Photography, 1984, 23 – 24. [“EW:100 – Centennial Essays in Honor of Edward Weston”, “Carmel: Beneficial to Bohemia” p. 48, Untitled 41, The Friends of Photography, Carmel, California 1986]
I'm sometimes called a 'documentary photographer' but... a man operating under that definition could take a sly pleasure in the disguise. Very often I'm doing one thing when I'm thought to be doing another. - Walker Evans
You talk about simplicity. When I first made photographs, they were too plain to be considered art and I wasn't considered an artist. I didn't get any attention at all. The people who looked at my work thought, well, that's just a snapshot of the backyard. Privately I knew otherwise and through stubbornness stayed with it... - Walker Evans
Detachment, lack of sentimentality, originality, a lot of things that sound rather empty. I know what they mean. Let’s say, "visual impact" may not mean much to anybody. I could point it out though. I mean it’s a quality that something has or does not have. Coherence. Well, some things are weak, some things are strong... - Walker Evans
On the question: "What makes a good photograph for you?"
I began to wonder – I knew I was an artist or wanted to be one – but I was wondering whether I really was an artist. I was doing such ordinary things that I could feel the difference. Most people would look at those things and say, “Well, that’s nothing. What did you do that for? That’s just a wreck of a car or a wreck of a man. That’s nothing. That isn’t art.” They don’t say that anymore. - Walker Evans
Privilege, if you're very strict, is an immoral and unjust thing to have, but if you've got it you didn't choose to get it and you might as well use it. You're privileged to be at Yale, but you know you're under an obligation to repay what's been put into you. - Walker Evans
I never took it upon myself to change the world. And those contemporaries of mine who were going around falling for the idea that they were going to bring down the United States government and make a new world were just asses to me. - Walker Evans
I used to try to figure out precisely what I was seeing all the time, until I discovered I didn't need to. If the thing is there, why, there it is. - Walker Evans
http://photo.net/street-documentary-photography-forum/007viW
Interviewer: "Do you think it's possible for the camera to lie?"
Walker Evans: "It certainly is. It almost always does." - Walker Evans
From Walker Evans at Work, quoting Yale Alumni Magazine,
The secret of photography is the camera takes on the character and personality of the handler. - Walker Evans
First of all, I tell [students] that art can’t be taught, but that it can be stimulated and a few barriers can be kicked down by a talented teacher, and an atmosphere can be created which is an opening into artistic action. But the thing itself is such a secret and so unapproachable. - Walker Evans
The element of time entering into a photograph provides a departure for as much speculation as an observer can make. - Walker Evans
Color tends to corrupt photography and absolute color corrupts it absolutely. Consider the way color film usually renders blue sky, green foliage, lipstick red, and the kiddies’ playsuit. These are four simple words which must be whispered: color photography is vulgar. - Walker Evans
Photography should have the courage to present itself as what it is, which is a graphic composition produced by a machine and an eye and then some chemicals and paper. Technically, it has nothing to do with painting. - Walker Evans
As in typography and printing, technique shouldn’t arrest you. - Walker Evans
The blind are not totally blind. Reality is not totally real. - Walker Evans
Photography has nothing whatsoever to do with art. But it is an art for all that. - Walker Evans
There are several tenets that go with this craft of ours. One of them is that the real gift and value in a picture is really not a thought; it is a sensation based on feeling. - Walker Evans
Many photographers are apt to confuse color with noise, and to congratulate themselves when they have almost blown you down with screeching hues alone—a bebop of electric blues, furious reds, and poison greens. - Walker Evans