I felt the same gratitude for the bank that you might feel toward parents who brought a girl you are in love with into the world
you can recognize, with a successful photograph, the square inscribed in the rectangle, etc. This is why I like the [24-by-36-mm] rectangular format of the Leica. I have a passion for geometry, and joy comes when I am surprised by a beautiful composition of shapes. This is the only way the subject takes on significance and seriousness. I never crop a photograph. If I have to reframe it, it means it is bad and nothing can fix it. The only improvement would have been to take one more in the right place, at the right moment. With our camera we situate ourselves in time, in space, and at the same time spiritually with relation to the subject. This immediate combination seems essential to me. However, unlike the painter who can work on a canvas, we proceed by instinct and intuition, within the instant. We “seize” precise details, and we are analytical. The painter operates through meditation and synthesis. I do not use color because, in the current state of its development, I cannot control it completely. When ceaselessly tackling a moving reality, it seems to me impossible to reconcile the contradiction between tone and color. So I prefer to continue working in black-andwhite, which is a transposition. I have never owned a flash, as it would be, in my mind, like firing a revolver in a concert. There are photographers who invent, others who discover. Personally, I am interested in discoveries, not for the trials or experiences but to capture life itself. I flee from the dangers of the anecdote and the picturesque, which are very easy and better than the sensational, but quite as bad. To my mind, photography has the power to evoke, and must not simply document. We have to be abstract, just like nature. Anybody can take photographs. I have seen in the Herald Tribune some taken by a monkey that managed, with a Polaroid camera, as well as some camera owners. It is precisely because our profession
For us, distance is also very important, and moving from one point to another, relationships change as noticeably as the tone of a voice heard from far or close
is open to everyone that it remains, in spite of its fascinating ease, extremely difficult. Why did you choose it? Photography affords me an immediate grip on the world, which I can record through a specific, significant detail. It is a way of understanding and a way of living more intensely. I have a lot of fun and I work for the subject, not for the magazine. I do not refuse assignments. Who, during the Renaissance, would have thought of holding them in contempt? I was recently asked to illustrate the annual report for local hookups in Spokane Washington an American bank. I don’t understand a thing about banks, and for ten days I photographed everything I saw. I was told that my story was a commentary on “white-collar workers.” That was the best compliment, since I had essentially sought to portray the employees’ lives between nine in the morning and six at night. I also did a story for the Mercedes factory. I chatted with the staff, the engineers, and I realized that the power of the firm relied on two notions: quality and tradition. Once while I was strolling in a garage, I saw a guy who drew with a brush a tiny line of color on a 300 SL car. After I had photographed it, I understood that I had touched on an important point that expressed Mercedes’s quality well. I discovered a notion of tradition among workers who were meeting for a reception organized in the factory by the trainee school. If I am asked about the photographer’s role in our times, the power of the image and so on, I do not want to launch into explanations. I only know that people who know how to look are as rare as those who know how to listen. So many think with concepts. . . .