Categories: Photography • The Artists • General Philosophy

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What did you try to focus on/capture in your portraits?

Asked by Elizabeth Bunn – Category: Photography

I never think about it. I just interact with the subject, try and find a nice place to take the picture, find a good spot where the light is right, or wait till the right time of day to take the photos and then just shoot. Without any cognitive interference, without putting my ideas about what the result of the photo should be, I get a very true image of the subject. Only in one instance, the photo that appeared on the Music From Big Pink album, was there any planning. And in that case, both the Band and I discussed what the photo should be like – what the atmosphere and feeling should be and so it came out to be a true vision of who they really were, because it was not my idea alone.

How did you become interested in photography?

Asked by Elizabeth Bunn – Category: Photography

One day, I was walking in New York City, where I was born, and saw something very beautiful. My instinct was to turn to someone and point it out to them but I was alone and didn’t see anyone nearby whom I felt comfortable talking to. I realized that if I could take a picture of what I saw I would be able to share the pleasure I got from it with someone else. So I bought a camera. Just yesterday, I realized that the definition of art is something done by someone primarily for the purpose of sharing their inner feelings, their inner self, their inner experience. This was my inspiration – to share an inner experience that I had. In my case it was a heartwarming feeling, but in others’ it might be pain or suffering that they need to show.

Did you idolize any photographers whose work you tried to incorporate into your work?

Asked by Elizabeth Bunn – Category: Photography

I almost never tried to incorporate anyone else’s style into my photographs. However for the Big Pink photo, I consciously studied civil war era photographs and copied the style to achieve the same feeling that was present in the old photos. Many of them were done by Mathew Brady and his assistants. I certainly love that type of work. The work of Cartier-Bresson is perhaps my favorite body of work by any photographer, but anytime I have tried to take “street photographs” it has not worked too well. His thing is not mine. I also love the work of W. Eugene Smith and my teacher, Larence N. Shustak (whose work is virtually unknown.) But I have not tried to copy their style, only the techniques of fine art printmaking.