Roger Ballen
[Photographer, b. 1950, New York, lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.]

 In the end, I believe that the most important influence on my aesthetic has been the photographs I have taken. 
 I never think about a photo before I start it. I try to let my mind relax, and then when I get there I do it. 
 [My] goal as an artist is to create increasingly complex images with greater and greater clarity of form and intensity of vision. 
 A lot of photography is about the unexpected happening during the time that you do the work. So it’s not something that you can really predict. 
 Every time you push the button of the camera you create a new reality. 
 Because photography is such an easy medium to master technically, especially with today’s cameras, people don’t realize that it’s not just being able to pick up a camera. When I lift that camera up to take a picture, I’ve gone through thousands of steps to get to that point. That’s what you’re really seeing; it’s a complex view of the world, through my imagination, through my experiences. 
 You can’t just set things up and photograph them and expect the picture to “zap.” It is very important that the mind feels that there is a moment of truth or a moment of authenticity. It’s really crucial, because if the artist’s hand is seen as too strong, the pictures seem either dead or contrived. 
 I don’t have any particular ideas about what I want to do…. I just relax and keep a focused mind and make the photographs. 
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