Stephen Shore
[Photographer, b. 1947, New York, lives in New York.]

 With a painting, you’re taking basic building blocks and making something that’s more complex than what you started with. It is a synthetic process. A photograph does the opposite: It takes the world, and puts an order on it, simplifies it. 
 I meet young artists and it becomes clear that with some the main motivation is getting a show in Chelsea. It strikes me that this is very different to the way it was for me, which was that I wanted to understand photography and the world and myself. 
 I enjoy the camera. Beyond that it is difficult to explain the process of photographing except by analogy: The trout streams where I flyfish are cold and clear and rich in the minerals that promote the growth of stream life. As I wade a stream I think wordlessly of where to cast the fly. Sometimes a difference of inches is the difference between catching a fish and not. When the fly I’ve cast is on the water my attention is riveted to it. I’ve found through experience that whenever—or so it seems—my attention wanders or I look away then surely a fish will rise to the fly and I will be too late setting the hook. I watch the fly calmly and attentively so that when the fish strikes—I strike. Then the line tightens, the playing of the fish begins, and time stands still. 
 Photographers have to impose order, bring structure to what they photograph. It is inevitable. A photograph without structure is like a sentence without grammar—it is incomprehensible, even inconceivable. 
 Until I was twenty-three I lived mostly in a few square miles in Manhattan. In 1972 I set out with a friend for Amarillo, Texas. I didn’t drive, so my first view of America was framed by the passenger’s window. 
 The context in which a photograph is seen affects the meaning the viewer draws from it. 
 I don’t feel like I have to do something that looks like a Stephen Shore picture. I’m doing what I’ve always done, which is take pictures that interest me. 
 A photographer may have questions and problems that he or she brings to a picture-making situation. At the same time, the specific situation can generate new ideas, possibilities, and problems. 
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