My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues.
But whenever I become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, I feel I’ve lost what’s really there…been seduced by someone else’s standard of beauty or by the sitter’s own idea of the best in him.
That’s not usually the best. So each sitting becomes a contest.
When the sitting is over, I feel kind of embarrassed about what we’ve shared. It’s so intense. Snapshots that have been taken of me working show something I was not aware of at all, that over and over again I’m holding my own body or my own hands exactly like the person I’m photographing.
I never knew I did that, and obviously what I’m doing is trying to feel, actually physically feel, the way he or she feels at the moment I’m photographing them in order to deepen the sense of connection.
Richard Avedon – 1980