John Loengard
[Photographer, editor, and critic, b. 1934, New York, lives in New York.]

 There really is no moment. The picture is the moment. 
 Working alone on stories, I began to feel the anonymity of motels on interstate highways reached by jet planes and rental cars. It was hard to have a good time, and the only way I could make the loneliness excusable was by taking pictures I thought were very good, even valuable. 
 Usually I think if there is something imperfect in a photograph it makes the picture more real. Photographs that are slick, smooth, and perfect seem less honest to me. 
 A Ming vase can be well-designed and well-made and is beautiful for that reason alone. I don’t think this can be true for photography. Unless there is something a little incomplete and a little strange, it will simply look like a copy of something pretty. We won’t take an interest in it. 
 The fact is that the camera is literal if anything, which gives it something in common with a thermometer... Often the tension that exists between the pictorial content of a photograph and its record of reality is the picture’s true beauty. There is sleight of hand in photography... you make the viewer think he’s seeing everything while at the same time you make him realize he’s not. I try to make my pictures seem reasonable and then, at the last minute, pull the rug from beneath the viewer’s feet, very gently so there’s a little thrill. 
 I don’t think I have become more skillful a technician over time. I think I have become more skillful at finding pictures that fit a very simple technique... You have to learn what you can do well... My pictures reflect the fact that I’m trying as hard as I can, and I can’t do anything else. 
 You’ve only got a feeling that you have a picture when you’re shooting. All photographers have that feeling—but I think that was particularly so before the digital age. Now you can immediately see what you shot. 
 In my head I think, “There is a beautiful picture here and by God, short of murder, I’m going to get it. So shut up and hold still!” But what I say is: “You look wonderful. It’ll just take a minute. It’s marvelous. We’re doing something very special.” 
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