David Plowden

PART I



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Plowden speaking:

Every time I go to one of these places it's as if no one else has ever been there to photograph it. I really don't give a damn whether anybody was there ten minutes before ... I want to discover it and work with it and explore it myself.

There is always the feeling that something is gone.

I think I know less about photography than I do the things I photograph. I suppose I'd like to feel that I'm a historian.

I feel somehow or other that it's a mission ... that it has nothing whatsoever to do with my own being, but that it's something quite apart from me. Somehow or other, I happen to have this - whatever the hell you want to call it - talent or gift or obsession or fanaticism or madness or whatever to go out and do this. I am absolutely consumed with the sense that it has to be done; that time is running out.

I'm a heretic. ... Well, I guess that photography is not a holy cow.

These towns are like postage stamps. They're just pasted down on the land.

I remember once in a dining car, the steward had all the shades pulled down, and we were going across Kansas or Oklahoma, someplace along there. And I pulled up the shade - I was almost the only person in the car - and the fellow came by again and pulled the shade down. He said, "There's nothing to see out there, son." I was outraged. But I think so many people feel that way about this part of the country - that it isn't worth looking at.

Oh, I love this evening light. You feel the earth turning.

At the beginning: sometimes [Walker] Evans and I would spend hours at an 18th story window of the Time-Life building, talking about the changing quality of the light. Driving with Evans in New York's Chinatown one day, he saw a young man photographing on the street. He told me to stop, then said, "I know light, you know light. He does not know the light."


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