Photo Quotes Archive

Quotes by Brooks Jensen (56 quotes)

(1954- )
Brooks Jensen, born in Laramie, Wyoming and raised in Portland, Oregon, realized his passion for photography while in high school. Jensen has tough college level photography classes, served as Director of Portland Photographers' Forum, authored two books on photography and the creative process and has co-produced LensWork magazine with Maureen Gallagher since 1992. All the while actively pursuing his personal photographic art. Brooks and his wife Maureen Gallagher reside in Anacortes, Washington.
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"Thirty-five years ago I became interested in photography because of the magic I saw in images. I underestimated, however, the power of photography to connect me to people."
"Photograph and engage life as though it is very short. It is--as you will learn when you see how quickly the next ten years go by."
"Even the modest, completed project is better than the grandest good intention."
Source: LensWork. Issue 50, Page 30
Uncategorized > Uncategorized
Quote #181
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"A good fine art photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the emotional content that the viewer is unaware of the print."
Source: LensWork. Issue 59, Page 11
Photography > General
Quote #182
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"If photography is truly an art, then what it expresses is human emotion. Not what the world looks like. … It’s not about what's in front of you, it's about what's inside of you. ... Expression, that's what its all about. Artistic expression, not objective duplication. "
Source: LensWork. Issue 63, Page 59
Photography > General
Quote #183
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"I learned that the most meaningful work is found in those projects that are produced purposefully, in order to complete a specific artistic vision or statement."
Source: LensWork. Issue 68, Page 9
Photography > Photographer
Quote #208
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"The best insulation from creating trivial artwork is to focus relentlessly on content rather than what we think is demanding technique."
"Never forget that all the great photographs in history were made with more primitive camera equipment than you currently own."
"Realize that creativity does not work on a clock. ...Do photography (or at least think photography) every day."
"Art without thought is incomplete. Art with thought is incomplete. Art making requires both thinking and non-thinking in order to become more than mere pretty pictures."
"...art making is a process, and lessons wait in every moment to be discovered. I'm still making art and still learning every day. And I have faith that that the most important lessons--as well as my most important works of art--are yet to be discovered."
" …the practical pragmatics of being an art maker is that you also have to be engaged in society, in life, and in the day to day to day affairs that all the non-art makers of society are engaged in. The challenge of being an art maker is not the challenge of configuring your life for escape. The challenge is configuring your life so that it can include the everyday affairs of everyday life and the time, the discipline, and the necessities of being an artist."
"Photography is this incredible niche thing. You are either sort of into photography or you’re not."
"That the reasons why we create are a lot more difficult to plumb versus the reasons how we create. But I have always felt that in art making, why we make something is much more important and much more of interest than how we did it."
"I’ve felt, for some time, that the next new hard in photography is the true potential of photography. That is exploring the human soul. Creating in photographs great passion."
"Writing is not about words. Painting is not about pigment. Music is not about tones. As long as photographers insist that photography is about photographs, the art is limited and self-containing!"
Source: LensWork, Issue 18, Page 56
Photography > Photographer
Quote #403
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"What is the single most important factor of making a connection with a viewer? ... It is, quote honestly, not your photograph. It is the state of mind of the viewer. ... One of the greatest challenges we have as photographers is putting our work in front of people at at time when their mind is receptive to photographic artwork. When their mind is receptive to seeing what it is that we are presenting."
"You don't know if you've gone far enough until you go too far and then you work back a couple of steps."
"Learning something about the history of photography and finding somebody that spoke to me esthetically was a very important part of my discovering this passion in my life."
"The market is the solution to being able to afford your next project. ... Today's commercial success fuels tomorrows creative ideas and creative projects."
"... realize that creating artwork is a real-time thing, not a future thing. And that there's real virtue in finishing today's vision today because tomorrow your vision will probably be different."
Source: LensWork Podcast LW0015, "Old Negatives".
Creativity > Creating
Quote #426
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"Don't let the medium that your using determine how you see. Let how you see determine how you use the medium."
"I think that's part of the confusion of photography too. Is the fact that the role of photographer can be both objective observer and creator of something."
"We often can work best--photographically, creatively, visually--when we work with what we are surrounded with, what we are immersed in. ... Look at what's around us everyday, because there may be the seeds of wonderful artwork right in front of us."
"When you see it, photograph it. Don't wait. It may not be there when you find you're ready to make the picture."
"We never see a photograph all at once. Our vision doesn't work that way. ... We have to look at all the parts of the photograph and then assemble it in our minds eye. This is the one of the fascinating things about good art work. It always brings forth that element of imagination and requires you to use your mind to really see it, because your eye can't possible see it all."
"We should never forget as creative photographers that our creative vision may survive us by tens or maybe even hundreds of years. And that what we are creating is not just a photography, but a legacy of our minds and our creativity."
"Creativity is a very difficult thing; it consumes a lot of energy and takes a great deal of focus. It's not easy to be creative. But, my experience is that it is infinitely compounded when life around you ... is complicating the issue by making it more difficult to work. ... My creativity is enhanced to the extent that I'm organized. ... It just makes the process of being creative easier because then all of that creativity can blossom in that nice clean slate that starts with organization."
"Not that it difficult to photograph mundane things, but it's difficult to see them as significant. ... The hard thing to do of course is to find a way to photograph a mundane subject or a mundane event in a way that makes it exciting."
"So, it is necessary to understand this image in it's time, or it gets completely mis-understood in our time. So maybe, we photographers need to think about this and know that our images are going to have to be explained 50, 100, 200, or 500 years from now. Just like Shakespeare or Renaissance paintings need to be explained to us today."
"All the great fine art photograph in the world share this common theme of being an intersection between an image and an idea. ... It's ideas that are the source of great photographs, not merely time and place."
"When somehow the atmosphere becomes alive with fog, or clouds, or rain, or lightening, or dust blown in the air, or high puffy clouds in the sky...that's the time that great photographs can be made outdoors. Isn't it interesting what an important component of photographs is the simple atmosphere in which we live. That's supposedly transparent but becomes alive in a photograph in when it's not."
"The more time I spend making picture, the more time I spend printing picture, the more time I spend working with pictures the greater the chances are that I'll be witj the camera or in the dark room when the creative muse strikes. Then the challenge is to simple be receptive to it."
"Look at the photographs, look at them carefully. Let the composition and the subject matter determine the aspect ratio. That's the ultimate authority. Not the camera manufacturer. Not the film manufacturer."
"There is no doubt in my mind that living with a photograph for a while, before you make the final print, will always change the image. Most often, for the better."
"The minute I start trying to avoid the bad stuff, I'm also going to throw the baby out with the bath water. Because the good stuff will stop being produced too."
"Sometimes the best way to get rid of something that is plaguing your mind is just to photograph it, so that your free to move on."
"If you want to make a photograph special and precious, make a better photograph. The white gloves don't add anything to a bad photograph."
"So why are Picture square? ... An example of a simple question, with a complicated answer. And maybe, just maybe, an opportunity for creativity."
"...the best photographs you make will be the things you are most passionate about. Go photograph those things that you really care about deeply. And they will probably be much better photographs than the photographs you make about things that you are not truly, deeply passionate."
"All of these images, all these computer files, all these negatives that I keep all these years are a sort of cholesterol that clog up the arteries and get in the way of being to focusing on the really good images and really good negatives that I made. So I'm starting to throw out more and more. And as I do so, it's starting to feel really terrific."
"Too much of photography is about photographers. That is to say, the creative act in photography is supposedly the photographer's skill in seeing what others do not, but this is simply not sufficient - and can lead to a lot of trite photography."
"Photography is not about what we see; photography is about [what] we make. A person who sees, but can't paint, is not a painter; a painter is someone who creates a painting. A person who hears, but can't write music, is not a composer; a composer is one who creates music. Even so, painting is not about the manipulation of paint; composing is not about the manipulation of notes. In all arts - including photography - what counts is what a person makes, and - most importantly - what a person expresses. It's not seeing, it's expressing that makes photography art."
"There is a lesson here for young photographers; you may not realize how important keeping that work is going to be, because 25 to 30 years later you might discover images that you want to print. Don't throw away your negatives!"
"I had learned a valuable lesson: Show your work to a hundred different people and you will get a hundred different opinions, none of them correct and all of them valid. All their opinions are valid because when someone tells you whether or not they like your work, there is no way to argue with that - to do so would only question their taste, not tell you about your work."
"When we're looking at an image - particular one in a publication or one from history - how we would choose to print it is non-sequitur precisely because, in fact, we aren't going to print it. What we have in front of us is the finished piece of work. Therefore, the only important comments that we can make, the only useful comments that we can make, are about the work as it exists now. There is a great deal we can bring to the discussion - our reactions to it, our interpretation of it, the context, the background - all of this is fair game. But, how we would change it in order to improve it seems to me to be fundamentally unimportant, at best, and a silly distraction, at worst."
"That's one of the problems of photography, it tends to be a surface sort of thing if we are not careful. Because it's just snap a picture and move on; take a picture and move on. Make a picture of what something looks like, but that's not at all what photography is. We have to learn to photograph not what it is but what else it is."
"The camera is, at it's root, a complex recording device. It is a mirror to the world - and a reasonably efficient machine for making images copies of the world it reflects. The camera is not a creative being, but the human who wields it is."
"The creative photographer is a seer, in both senses of that word. In short, the art of seeing is what defines the creative photographer as compared to the merely competent one."
"The essence of creative photography is in us - not in the camera, not in the subject, not in the technology, not in the photographic artifact. And, by extension, because each one of us is a different and unique person, our response to a place - i.e., a photographic subject - is (or can be) unique, too."
"I've always felt there are a large reservoir of people who have wonderful artistic vision but who lack the technical skills to manifest their vision in a recalcitrant and stubborn medium where molecules and the rules of physics and chemistry conspire to make things difficult. "
Source: LensWork. Issue 67, Page 12
Photography > General
Quote #621
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"A face is not a portrait. My feeling is that a portrait of someone is not just what they look like, but include who they are."
Source: LensWork, Issue 67, Page 49
Photography > General
Quote #622
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"We are simply fellow travelers with these people. Who share the passion for photograph. And who each do our own par to carry photograph forward through the ages with our passion and with our work. And it is in the context of that much larger view of something like photograph that helps us, inspires us, to do our very best. ...that is the very best way that we can say 'thank you' to those that have gone before us."
"Art is the pursuit of questions. Art is wonder. Art is inquiry. Art is a peek into the mysterious. At its best, art is, like life, asking the right questions - and the right questions are so often more important than the answers we find."
Source: LensWork. Issue 77, Page 8
Art > General
Quote #637
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"Picasso was right in insisting that the creative path is one of questions. It is a path that is best illuminated by raising such questions. I know of no better way to discover, to guide, or to deepen our work."
Source: LensWork. Issue 77, Page 13.
Creativity > General
Quote #638
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"It is a very important task of being an artist to be both bold and humble at the same time."