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WILLIAM KLEIN
[b. 1928] American-born French photographer and filmmaker
I didn’t relate to European photography. It was too poetic and anecdodtal for me.... The kinetic quality of New York, the kids, dirt, madness--I tried to find a photographic style that would come close to it.So I would be grainy and contrasted and black. I’d crop, blur, play with the negatives. I didn’t see clean technique being right for New York. I could imagine my pictures lying in the gutter like the New York Daily News. - William Klein

Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn't look like somebody else's work. - William Klein

I came from the outside, the rules of photography didn't interest me... there were things you could do with a camera that you couldn't do with any other medium... grain, contrast, blur, cock-eyed framing, eliminating or exaggerating grey tones and so on. I thought it would be good to show what's possible, to say that this is as valid of a way of using the camera as conventional approaches. - William Klein

Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn't look like somebody else's work. - William Klein - On the question: "What advice would you give young photographers just starting out?"

I'd crop, blur, play with the negatives, I didn't see clean technique being right for New York. I could imagine my pictures lying in the gutter like the New York Daily News. - William Klein - From the book: Photography Masterclass: Creative Techniques of 100 Great Photographers [Paul Lowe] foreword by Simon Norfolk

So who can pin down photography? We’re drunk with images. [Sontag’s] sick of it. I’m sick of it. But we’re moved by old amateur photographs because they aren’t concerned about theories of photography or what a picture must be. They’re just photographs without rules or dogma. - William Klein

You look at a contact sheet with a magnifying glass and you see a shot, suddenly it all comes back—that was a nice day, you wanted a walk, your feet were hurting, you felt that you would hit on something. - William Klein

I was very consciously trying to do the opposite of what Cartier-Bresson was doing. He did pictures without intervening. He was like the invisible camera. I wanted to be visible in the biggest way possible. - William Klein - On his photography in the early 1950s

Why must a photograph be a mirror? - William Klein

I never went to those meetings—all those women with hats and thick glasses. - William Klein - On Vogue magazine fashion editors

I saw the book I wanted to do as a tabloid gone berserk, gross, grainy, overinked, with a brutal layout, bull-horn headlines. This is what New York deserved and would get. - William Klein

I spent six months in New York at that time [1954] and thought I had a book. So I went to publishers here, in New York, and got nowhere. Most of the people who looked at the photographs looked at the work and said “What kind of book is this? You make New York look like a slum.” I said, “Yeah, New York is a slum.” “What kind of New York are you showing me, everything black and awful?” I said, “No, you live on Fifth Avenue and your office is on Madison. You’ve never been to the Bronx, you’ve never been to Queens or Flatbush. This is the real New York.” - William Klein

I think the idea of a retrospective is good because a lot of things you put behind you. - William Klein

Sometimes, I’d take shots without aiming, just to see what happened. I’d rush into crowds—bang! bang! ... It must be close to what a fighter feels after jabbing and circling and getting hit, when suddenly there’s an opening, and bang! Right on the button. It’s a fantastic feeling. - William Klein

I thought New York had it coming, that it needed a kick in the balls. When I returned to New York, I wanted to get even. Now I had a weapon, photography. - William Klein

I have always done the opposite of what I was trained to do... Having little technical background, I became a photographer. Adopting a machine, I do my utmost to make it malfunction. For me, to make a photograph is to make an anti-photograph. - William Klein

I wanted to do something altogether vulgar. - William Klein

My photographs are the fragments of a shapeless cry that tries to say who knows what... What would please me most is to make photographs as incomprehensible as life. - William Klein

I have always loved the amateur side of photography, automatic photographs, accidental photographs with uncentered compositions, heads cut off, whatever. I incite people to make their self-portraits. I see myself as their walking photo booth. - William Klein

I think there are two kinds of photography—Jewish photography and goyish photography. If you look at modern photography, you will find, on the one hand the Weegees, the Diane Arbuses, the Robert Franks—funky photographs. And then you have the people who go out in the woods. Ansel Adams, Weston. It’s like black and white jazz. - William Klein

It was a period of incredible excitement for me—coming to terms with myself, with the city I hated and loved, and with photography. Every day for months I was out gathering evidence. I made up the rules as I went along and they suited me fine. - William Klein - On 1954-55 in New York City

Quite deliberately, I did the opposite to what was usually done. I thought that an absence of framing, chance, use of the accidental and a different relationship with the camera would make it possible to liberate the photographic image. There are some things that only a camera can do. The camera is full of possibilities as yet unexploited. But that is what photography is all about. The camera can surprise us. We must help it do so. - William Klein

If you look carefully at life, you see blur. Shake your hand. Blur is part of life. - William Klein

Anybody who pretends to be objective isn’t realistic. - William Klein

I had neither training nor complexes. By necessity and choice, I decided that anything would have to go. A technique of no taboos: blur, grain, contrast, cock-eyed framing, accidents, whatever happens. - William Klein

I’ve noticed that in general the Paris of photographers... was romantic, foggy and above all, ethnically homogeneous. But for me, Paris was, as much as and perhaps more than New York, a melting pot. A cosmopolitan city, multicultural and totally multiethnic, whatever Le Pen thinks. - William Klein

I used the wide-angle lens as a normal lens. I had no philosophy about it. When I looked in the viewfinder and realized I could see all the contradictions and confusion that was there with the wide-angle—that was what was great. - William Klein

With all these so-called great photographers—Cartier-Bresson and Doisneau—everything is so hunky dory. - William Klein

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