Garry Winogrand Interview

Last night on the porch I read “Monkeys Make the Problem More Difficult: A Collective Interview with Garry Winogrand”. It’s from a book that’s been out of print for twenty-five years. Which means it’s probably a month or so away from landing itself in Google’s library scanning project, so I thought I’d speed things along, as a follow-up to last week’s Winogrand video.

I thought I might transcribe it to make it searchable (and accessible to all readers) but that’s just plain crazy. Click the picture to download and/or view the pdf.


A choice exchange:

Q: But the thing that’s intriguing is not really knowing what the result is going to be like.

Winogrand: What I know bores me. You know, you get into the business of commercial photography, and that’s all you do is photograph what you know. That’s what you’re hired for. And it’s very easy to make successful photographs — it’s very easy. I’m a good craftsman and I can have this particular intention: let’s say, I want a photograph that’s going to push a certain button in an audience, to make them laugh or love, feel warm or hate, or what — I know how to do this. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do that, to make successful photographs. It’s a bore. I certainly never wanted to be a photographer to bore myself. It’s no fun — life is too short…

Credit: Dennis Longwell conducted the interview, and it’s in a two-volume book called The Camera Viewed: Writings on Twentieth-Century Photography, edited by Peninah R. Petruck. A few copies are available online – check your local library.

More Winogrand on 2point8.

8 thoughts on “Garry Winogrand Interview”

  1. The most interesting thing about that quote is that it contradicts what Szarkowski says about his commercial work in Figments, which is that it was not very good: that Winogrand did the work in a workmanlike-way, but that his lack of interest translated into uninspired and technically unpolished work.

  2. We get it Garry, you like to talk about how things look in photographs. You’re a real formalist.

    But is it completely necessary to totally negate discussion of subject matter? The way you talk makes your work sound about as human as Mark Rothko’s or Ad Reinhardt’s.

    You gave a rap about gas stations.

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