“Where do you go? What do you want?"
For the first ten years of my adult life, expressing myself by making art with photographs was what I cared most about. I grew up in New York City, and even though I moved away from there as soon as I finished college, addressing the intense energy I found on the streets of cities continued to be important to me. Journeying around the world in 1988, I became committed to making photography my primary medium of expression.
I figured out that by working
instinctively and quickly I could create images that asked at least as many questions as they answered. Most often these images had people in them. When
shooting, I took little time for reflection or setting up, and only
the briefest view, if at all, through the viewfinder. My photographs
will not tell you particularly “true” or “journalistic”
stories about the people in them or the places in which they were
taken. The people in the images have certain motivations and I have
mine; each photograph is the developed plane of silver in the instant
of time, literally, where our interests visually crossed. And then,
of course, I selected these images carefully from thousands by a very
simple method; I chose them because I was still interested in looking at them, long after the prints were made. The longer after the better. I like a photograph that is not easily explained, that doesn't suggest the same story with every viewing.
The images I took in The United States I call, “Looking For Work.” They are the product of trying to figure out what interested me in my homeland. The images I took in other countries, I call “The Long Vacation.” I guess the vacation was from the "work" of attempting to figure out what American cities are about. In foreign countries, I have fewer ideas about what I am looking at; so, I guess the "vacation" is from my preconceptions and prejudices. What a drag it can be, being ourselves! In India, helpful Indians would often ask me, “Where do you go, what do you want?” when they saw me loitering on their street corners with a camera in my hands and a look of ambiguous intent on my face. These images, from home and abroad, are my answers to those questions. I didn't know what they would look like when I took them, or I might not have bothered. I have always been most interested in photographs that offer a visual experience (by freezing complexity in a moment of time) not possible with the naked eye.