Alec Soth Quotes

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  • In a world where the 2 billionth photograph has been uploaded to Flickr, which looks like an Eggleston picture! How do you deal with making photographs with the tens of thousands of photographs being uploaded to Facebook every second, how do you manage that? How do you contribute to that? What's the point?

  • People can talk about the death of social life or whatever; it's not necessarily how I see it. It's more musical in the sense, where it's a feeling about the place I live, slash, who I am in the place.

  • For me, photography is as much about the way I respond to the subject as it is about the subject itself.

  • [Photography is] very related to poetry. It's suggestive and fragmentary and unsatisfying in a lot of ways. It's as much about what you leave out as what you put in.

  • I find myself using music metaphors all the time, but this is too perfect, I feel like. Digital downloading is like photographs online. It's great, they're available, you can see lots of different work, but it's a limited experience of the form. A book is like an album. You don't have to have a million dollars to be able to buy it, you have to save some money, you have to buy your album, then you take it home, and you put it on your turntable.

    Book   Home   Perfect  
  • I didn't want to pretend to be a conceptual artist that charges $10,000 for an experience. It's just not what I am. I'm a photographer and I make prints. And people buy a print, and I understand that. But I'm uncomfortable with buying an experience.

    Artist   People   Want  
  • Photography is a very lonely medium. There’s a kind of beautiful loneliness in voyeurism. And that’s why I’m a photographer.

    "Dismantling My Career: A Conversation with Alec Soth". Interview with Bartholomew Ryan, August 31, 2010.
  • Watching my daughter sort of live in this world where a photograph is not something to keep a memory. It's something to just speak with. It's language.

  • In assembling this group of portraits of women, I'm aware that I'm treading on dangerous ground. When I was in college, I learned to be distrustful of men's depictions of women. I remember seeing Garry Winogrand's book Women Are Beautiful in the school library and being shocked that it hadn't been defaced for its blatant objectification of women. But looking back, maybe I was too harsh. Whether one photographs men or women, it is always a form of objectification. Whatever you say about Winogrand, his depiction was honest.

    Beautiful   Book   School  
  • I admire photographers that don't need a destination. In some ways, street photography is like that. There's a quality of wanderlust for sure in my work, but I need a destination.

  • It's a weird combination that makes a great picture. It's a complete mystery to me.

  • Every once in a while I have this revelation like, "Wow, a hundred years ago the world wasn't black and white." It was in color. Photographed in a certain way, people look from another time. We are just not used to seeing ourselves in that context. Something that's fascinating about photography is you can isolate a moment, tear it out of its context, and see it afresh. Another realization is that, "Wow, there's a big world out there, and people are still doing all sorts of the things that they used to do." We don't just live in iPad land.

  • If limitation spawns creativity, is the limitless resource of the Internet a good thing?

  • I've never been the type of photographer to live with people I photograph. You know, shoot heroin with them, that kind of thing. I respect those photographers that work that way. But part of my personality is a certain amount of distance, and part of my attraction to the medium of photography is this distance where you're in the world, but you're removed from it.

  • Nobody really wants to be alone. People need people.

    People   Needs   Want  
  • I'm like the annoying guy in the street.

    Guy   Annoying   Streets  
  • Photography's future is infinite and bright. It's growing exponentially, so that's great, but for me as a practitioner, that exponential growth makes it even more problematic. And so for me, it's got me more engaged with storytelling.

  • I'm a project-based photographer; I think in narrative terms, the way a writer thinks of a book, or a filmmaker a film.

  • Photography, for me, is a lot like web surfing in real life.

    "A Photographic Tour in the World of Alec Soth". Interview with Jane Gudmundson and Antony Anderson, May 12, 2010.
  • Whether you are Minor White or Robert Frank, almost every photograph starts with an act of pure description - a window. But every now and then you catch a glimpse of the photographer's reflection. The mirror is just another function of the window.

  • For good work to develop the technology needs to become as stable and functional as a typewriter.

  • If you want to be a creative person, then you’re gonna have to be creative in how you put your career together. There isn’t a path. Part of the creativity is making your path.

    "Simply Paying Attention With Alec Soth". Interview with Alexander Strecker,
  • For me, the act of photography is all about discovery and finding new things.

  • The reason I often say, for me, photography is analogous to poetry, for my kind of work more so than journalism, is because it's so open to interpretation. And I'm very happy having different interpretations of it.

  • You can photograph anything. You can be inside, outside, doesn't matter, you're controlling the light. It gives you great flexibility. That was a primary motivation.

  • I fell in love with the process of taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.

  • I always say that photography's closest cousin is poetry because of the way it sparks your imagination and leaves gaps for the viewer to fill in.

  • This is the same problem I have with digital photography. The potential is always remarkable. But the medium never settles. Each year there is a better camera to buy and new software to download. The user never has time to become comfortable with the tool. Consequently too much of the work is merely about the technology. The HDR and QTVR fads are good examples. Instead of focusing on the subject, users obsess over RAW conversion, Photoshop plug-ins, and on and on. For good work to develop the technology needs to become as stable and functional as a typewriter.

  • I've never been comfortable photographing people I know, myself included. I guess I prefer the mystery of strangers.

  • The people that I photographed allowed me to photograph them because they didn't want to be alone, and the truth is I didn't want to be alone making the pictures.

    People   Want   Truth Is  
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