Stephen G. Williams
I am a photographer. I love the medium...and have since I picked up a used camera in college...that was 50 years ago.
My mentor was Life magazine and the photographs produced in the stories. Without exception I was moved the most by Eugene Smith's work. The story of Albert Schweitzer with his images, I still recall the layout in the magazine, it has led me to my photojournalism career. His power and use of the camera has been the cornerstone of my work.
It was my good fortune to have finally met Eugene before his death and as well to hear him give a lecture on his work. I will always remember a pause in the lecture...as he addressed the group...with a strong voice “you must always get the picture...get close and then even closer...as you see the image emerge you, he stands up and shows us how it is done, you get that image always, always you get that image"...there is applause then...and I hear Eugene say more softly now "because you are a photographer." His words at that time to this young man and others set the tone for my future work.
It is with gratitude that I say Eugene's work, documentary in nature, was truly the art of persuasion. His weapon of choice was the camera and always, always the "picture."
Art is what we reflect as a nation...and it is something we should be damn proud of. After all Teddy Roosevelt in order to persuade the politicians to adopt the National Park system, used a photographer's (Carleton Watkins) and his beautiful 20" x 24" prints to persuade them to adopt the idea of preserving our land for future generations.
That is my story and how art can influence and an teach us about reverence.