Allan Sekula
[Photographer, writer, and theorist, b. 1951, Erie, Pennsylvania, d. 2013, Los Angeles.]

 ...the hidden imperatives of photographic culture drag us in two contradictory directions: “science” and a myth of “objective truth” on the one hand, and toward “art” and a cult of “subjective experience” on the other. This dualism haunts photography, lending a certain goofy inconsistency to the most commonplace assertions about the medium. 

Eikoh Hosoe
[Photographer, b. 1933, Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, lives in Tokyo.]

 To me, a photograph is both a record and a testimony, mirror and window... in which inside and outside are as one, ever-changing... The camera is generally assumed to be unable to depict that which is not visible to the eye. And yet the photographer who wields it well can depict what lies unseen in his memory. 

Arthur Tress
[Photographer, b. 1940, Brooklyn, New York, lives in Cambria, California.]

 In my old age I no longer see the difference between documentary and staged. (2012, age 71) 

Brassaï (Gyula Halász)
[Photographer, b. 1889, Brassó, Transylvania, Hungary (now Romania), d. 1984, Eze, Alpes-Maritimes, France.]

 I had myself echoed [Peter Henry] Emerson’s view that photography was not an art form, but I had done so without the slightest regret… It is something better than art! It rules out subjectivity, the artist’s arbitrariness; through photography it is at last possible to attain divine, total objectivity. 

Tom Wolfe
[Writer, b. 1930, Richmond, Virginia, d. 2018, New York.]

 It was the unspoken curse of the medium, which went: “Photography is not really creative.” Naturally no painter would be so gauche as to say publicly that photography was not an art form. Nevertheless, there was an unuttered axiom: “Painters create, photographers select.” Not all the enlightened lip service in the world could change that feeling. The condescension with which the most insignificant painter could look down upon an Ansel Adams, a Steichen, or a Stieglitz was absolutely breathtaking. If sneers gave off heat, Alfred Stieglitz himself would have ended up about the size and shape of a smoked oyster. 

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

 There’s something arbitrary about taking a picture. So I can stand at the edge of a highway and take one step forward and it can be a natural landscape untouched by man and I can take one step back and include a guardrail and change the meaning of the picture radically... I can take a picture of a person at one moment and make them look contemplative and photograph them two seconds later and make them look frivolous. 

David Hockney
[Artist, b. 1937, Bradford, England, lives in Bridlington, Yorkshire; London; and Los Angeles.]

 Photography hankers after the condition of the neutral observer. But there can be no such things as a neutral observer. For something to be seen, it must be looked at by somebody, and any true and real depiction must be an account of the experience of that looking. 

W. Eugene Smith
[Photographer, b. 1918, Wichita, Kansas, d. 1978, Tucson, Arizona.]

 Up to and including the instant of exposure, the photographer is working in an undeniably subjective way. 
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