Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Walker Evans as told to Bill Ferris

In 1974, a young, shaggy-haired Bill Ferris interviewed a 70-year-old Walker Evans. The interview (with pictures, of course) is published in the Summer 2007 issue of Southern Cultures, a special photography issue. Bill tells us the first run is sold out already, but they are printing some more.

Originality and truth and direct simplicity and honesty [are what I look for in a photograph]. I approach these things as a moralist, really, because some of these things I just said--honesty and truth--are moral values, but beauty is something else, and it's a word that should be used damn carefully. I don't know if I could tell you what I think beauty is but that it's got to be there.

[My students love me] because I love them. It's a thing I manufacture by my own love. They respond. There's love in everybody, and you have to evoke it. You evoke it by feeling it yourself. Mine is excessive. It's almost more than I can stand emotionally. Even lately, I've noticed that if I'm riding around in an automobile and I see children playing, I almost burst into tears because of just the sight of children. I've never loved children so much before, but I'm beginning to love them too. I must be going backwards. I was stopped with youth for a while, and now I've gone into childhood.

I don't think [documenting a person] is cold because I am warm myself and I think I can convey that. I'm essentially a born lover, and I love what I'm doing. I think I can put love in my work. I love life and I love people deeply, and that's what keeps me alive and keeps me happy.

--Walker Evans

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