Janet Malcolm
[Writer, b. 1934, Prague, Czechoslovakia, lives in New York.]

 Are pictures there for anyone to “take”? Or are they made by the photographer? 
 I was always trying to take art photographs, but the most interesting pictures were the snapshots. The artsy pictures were boring, always. 
 There are good photographers who might elevate themselves to the ranks of the great simply by burning most of their work. 
 If you scratch a great photograph, you find two things; a painting and a photograph. 
 The heavy odds against finding the desired… work of art in the mess and flux of life, as opposed to the serene orderliness of imagined reality, give a special tense dazzle and an atmosphere of tour de force to any photographs that succeed in the search. 
 [In embracing snapshots,] the attributes previously sought by photographers—strong design, orderly composition, control over tonal values, lucidity of content, good print quality—have been stood on their heads, and the qualities now courted are formlessness, rawness, clutter, accident, and other manifestations of the camera’s formidable capacity for imposing disorder on reality... (1976) 
 If a painter wants to show large objects and surf, this can be arranged: he has only to get himself the right-size canvas. He is the monarch of all he surveys. The photographer, on the other hand, is the slave of his range finder. 
 The camera is simply not the supple and powerful instrument of description that the pen is. 
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