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AARON SISKIND
[1903 - 1991] American photographer
We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect.... but, as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs. - Aaron Siskind

The business of making a photograph may be said in simple terms to consist of three elements: the objective world (whose permanent condition is change and disorder), the sheet of paper on which the picture will be realized, and the experience that brings them together. - Aaron Siskind

As photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs. Move on objects with your eye straight on, to the left, around on the right. Watch them grow large as they approach, group and regroup as you shift your position. Relationships gradually emerge and sometimes assert themselves with finality. And that's your picture. - Aaron Siskind, Photographers on Photography : A Critical Anthology by Nathan Lyons (Editor)
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As the saying goes, we see in terms of our education. We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect. And indeed it is socially useful that we agree on the function of objects. But, as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs. Move on objects with your eye straight on, to the left, around on the right. Watch them grow large as you approach, group and regroup as you shift your position. Relationships gradually emerge and sometimes assert themeselves with finality. And that’s your picture. - Aaron Siskind, The Art of Photography - LIFE Library of Photography , Page: 18

To me documentary photography means making a picture so that the viewer doesn’t think about the man who made the picture. At its esthetic core is very old tradition in art: naturalism. And its purpose is to document all facets of social relationships. - Aaron Siskind, Documentary Photography - LIFE Library of Photography , Page: 102

When I make a photograph, I want it to be an altogehter new object, complete and self-contained, whose basic condition is order. - Aaron Siskind

As the language or vocabulary of photography has been extended, the emphasis of meaning has shifted, shifted from what the world looks like to what we feel about the world and what we want the world to mean. - Aaron Siskind

Producing a photographic document involves preparation in excess. There is first the examination of the idea of the project. Then the visits to the scene, the casual conversations, and more formal interviews - talking, and listening, and looking, looking. ... And finally, the pictures themselves, each one planned, talked, taken and examined in terms of the whole. - Aaron Siskind

The only nature I'm interested in is my own nature. - Aaron Siskind
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When I make a photograph I want it to be an altogether new object, complete and self-contained, whose basic condition is order -- unlike the world of events and actions, whose permanent condition is change and disorder. - Aaron Siskind
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Ambiguity may be the clue: there is the material, and there am I intruding my private intent. I know the imminence of the world and experience it with full sensuality; at the same time I am involved with the projection of myself as idea. Strong tensions are inevitable, pleasurable and disturbing. Is not the esthetic optimum order with the tensions continuing? - Aaron Siskind

I was given a small camera as a wedding gift from a very dear friend. My first pictures were taken on my honeymoon. As soon as I became familiar with the camera, I was intrigued with the possibilities of expression it offered. It was like a discovery for me. - Aaron Siskind
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The start of a photograph is from a previous picture. There is no preconception, rather predisposition (which predisposition includes the camera, lenses and the film with me at the time). I will usually return to a familiar place or one that seems familiar. I stand still or move slowly, feeling things like the impulse of shapes, the direction of lines, the quality of surfaces. I frame with my eye (sometimes with my hands) as the ground glass would frame. Nothing that one could reasonably call thinking is taking place al this stage. The condition is total absorption; the decision (a picture) is spontaneous ... Ambiguity may be the clue, there is the material. and there am I intruding my private intent. I know the imminence of the world and experience it with full sensuality; at the same time I am involved with projection of myself as idea. Strong tensions are inevitable, pleasurable and disturbing. Is not the aesthetic optimum order with the tensions continuing? - Aaron Siskind - Creative Camera, May, 1970, page 136

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving, what you have caught of film is captured forever… It remembers little things long after you have forgotten everything. - Aaron Siskind - Source: „Behind photographs (Archiving photographic legends) by Tim Mantoani, Channel Photographics, San Diego CA, 2011, p. 18

Every object, to me is a very alive thing. In Gloucester, one summer, the rocks began to seem so animate I could hardly bear to walk over them. - Aaron Siskind

I may be wrong, but the essentially illustrative nature of most documentary photography, and the worship of the object per se in our best nature photography is not enough to satisfy the man of today, compounded as he is of Christ, Freud, Marx. The interior drama is the meaning of the exterior event. And each man is an essence and a symbol. - Aaron Siskind

I accept the flat picture surface as the primary frame of reference of the picture. - Aaron Siskind

The main thing that a work of art has to give you is order. It takes all this mess of ours, which is so wonderful and so disturbing, and puts it together for us so that we can contemplate it. It removes you from life so that you can live your life. - Aaron Siskind

There are two forces operating in my work: pleasure and terror. - Aaron Siskind

It is no longer a matter of expressing reality, but of expressing what one feels about reality. - Aaron Siskind

I want to bring my pictures to the ideal of music. Like music, it means everything, it says everything, but it is objective. - Aaron Siskind

The pictures that I can figure out... I lose interest in as pictures. If they are compelling in some way so that you really want to know what they mean—because they deserve knowing—and you can’t find out, that really keeps you interested in them. - Aaron Siskind

My idea of what a picture is: it’s there, it exists by itself, it’s clean, it’s economically stated, it’s pure, it has meaning. - Aaron Siskind

For some reason or other there was in me the desire to see the world clean and fresh and alive, as primitive things are clean and fresh and alive. The so-called documentary picture left me wanting something. - Aaron Siskind

The only other things I got from the abstract expressionists is the absolute belief that this canvas is the complete total area of struggle, this is the arena, this is where the fight is taking place, the battle. Everybody believes that, but you have to really believe that and work that way. - Aaron Siskind

I care only for people—I’m interested only in human destiny. It just happens that I work symbolically—not directly with people as subjects. - Aaron Siskind

It makes no difference what the subject matter is. The idea, the statement, is the only thing that counts. - Aaron Siskind

To me, in a deep sense, it’s the purpose of art that a work of art is something that’s composed, it’s orderly, confined, it’s within bounds, you can comprehend it. - Aaron Siskind

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