Roy DeCarava on Photograpy

June 15 ~ day 20

excerpt from a talk given by Roy DeCarava at the Museum of Modern Art. © 1996 DeCarava Archives

"How do I know what to photograph? I am at a point where images find me; I don't go looking for them. I interact with the process of photography sometimes by anticipating, at other times by trusting and waiting, or by willing things to happen. Does this shape what happens? We don't know. The laws that are implied or invented do not determine what happens. A photograph is created by a machine, but the product of it is real; that moment had to exist in the real world in order to take a picture of it. No other process demands that kind of veracity.

When I first started, there were standard myths of photography: the individual becomes the subject, all sorts of obvious things. But the more you work, and your work has to be accompanied by an ability to know and to get deeper and deeper into it, the more you find that creation comes in the constructive exploration not only of the subject but of one's own self. To some extent, then, it no longer matters what the subject is; there is always something there to pull out.

The subject becomes a limit in this equation. What is not limited is you. I am not the same person I was 40 years ago, 4 hours ago, 4 minutes ago, yet I am all of them at once. You are multiple in your consciousness: you are the past, the future, the present or all and any other dimensions that we can't yet name. Consciousness expands and is unlimited.

At this point, subject matter doesn't interest me. There is something else out there---or I don't know if it's out there, but I think it is--- and I reach for it.

Photography is about getting back to the self, and the self is infinite, it is consciousness. The refusal to invent a methodology is what makes you free, what enables the consciousness to rise."