Emmet Gowin
[Photographer, b. 1941, Danville, Virginia, lives in Princeton, New Jersey.]

 Twentieth-century art has allowed me to see things in a cryptic way. I love the butterfly’s wings, which disappear when folded and when open leave this brilliant, intense pronouncement of nature, “Here I am.” 
 The challenge of photography is to show the thing photographed so that our feelings are awakened and hidden aspects are revealed. 
 [In nature] we may even glimpse the means with which to accept ourselves. Before nature, what I see does not truly belong to anyone; I know that I cannot have it, in fact, I’m not sure what I’m seeing. 
 I think our fascination for what is terrible is great. Our need for beauty is great... And oddly, instead of wanting to run away from what is granted a terrible thing to know, I wanted to know more and to hold it as an image. 
 Photography is such an important instrument in the education of our feelings and perception because of its duality. Photography represents the world we know, and suggests a world beyond what we can see. Creativity is the gap between perception and knowledge. 
 We tremble at the feelings we experience as our sense of wholeness is reorganized by what we see. 
 I am pessimistic about a picture’s power to be the emissary of just one thing. What I hope is that the picture says, “Here I am, this is what I am like,” and the person seeing the picture says in return, “You know a lot but you don’t know half of what I know.” 
 [From 1966 to 1970] I was becoming alive to certain essential qualities in family photographs. Above all I admired what the camera made. The whole person was presented to the camera. There was no interference, or so it seemed. And sometimes the frame cut through the world with a surprise. There could be no doubt that the picture belonged more to the world of things and facts than to the photographer. 
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