It’s easy to find practical instruction on how to take a good photograph. More abstruse, though, is the notion of how to become an artist with an eye for stirring, evocative images; someone who understands the relationship between the image and its viewer. Author Henry Carroll has published prolifically on the formal and technical considerations of the medium (his ongoing book series is straightforwardly titled Read This if You Want to Take Great Photographs). But his latest endeavor is a volume that compiles the musings of great photographers that, together, dissect the often instinctual and ineffable practice of making powerful images.
The artists in the 2018 book Photographers on Photography: How the Masters See, Think & Shoot
provide pithy insight on their approaches (
: “I try to take photos like an alien”); the nature of images (
: “When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts”); and counterintuitive truths (
: “It’s way more important to know how to take a picture than use a camera”).
Carroll doesn’t limit himself to the great historical figures of photography, but rather assembles a cast of emerging, mid-career, and past image-makers, using his own definition of what makes a master. “It’s easier to use the word ‘master’ in relation to dead photographers because their work is complete, and books and museums constantly tell us they are masters,” he wrote via email to Artsy. “[It’s] a bit more subjective when it comes to contemporary photographers.” For him, he explained, “it comes down to someone’s deep awareness of their own practice and the presence of a distinctive voice.”
Below, we share excerpts from Carroll’s book that delve into the minds of seven great photographers.