I realize that I had the best of serious picture journalism.
It’s hard for me to assess what I brought because each time you pick up a camera and point it at a person, you’re trying to define that person so to talk generally is difficult because I have to think of a given image in order to conjure up what we’re talking about.
What you need to be a good photographer is an overwhelming curiosity and a good digestion. Sometimes you feel blessed with curiosity, sometimes you feel cursed with it.
I realise that I had the best of serious picture journalism. There was an innocence in our approach, especially in the 1950s and 1960s when we naively believed that by holding a mirror up to the world we could help – no matter how little – to make people aware of the human condition.
I find going back through things sometimes exhilarating because I find things I didn’t know I had, and sometimes it’s very off putting because there are things I never quite finished, and there’s nothing at all to do about it now.
I have been poor and I wanted to document poverty; I had lost a child and I was obsessed with birth; I was interested in politics and I wanted to know how it affected our lives; I am a woman and I wanted to know about women.
What has changed is that when I photographed, most people that I photographed didn’t have the right of refusal on their work. It would take a Marilyn Monroe at her height to be able to dictate that.
It doesn’t matter if you use a box camera or you use a Leica; the important thing is what motivates you when you are photographing.
I came to photography by accident.
I can’t hold a camera anymore.
I had in mind a long career.
Lesson number one: Pay attention to the intrusion of the camera.
I look for a sense of reality with everything I did. I didn’t work in a studio, I didn’t light anything. I found a way of working which pleased me because I didn’t have to frighten people with heavy equipment. It was that little black box and me and £5 worth of film in my pocket or maybe it was only £2 in those days.
I want the subject to be in control. Because they will give me something I couldn’t possibly know about them.
Themes recur again and again in my work.