How can I tell you about myself? It would be too embarrassing, for instance, to say that I don’t belong to any church but that I have my religion inside me. I am a very serious man… more than dedicated.

And I can’t tell you how I go about my work either. I speak from very unhappy experience. I used to analyze it, to try to figure out just exactly what I was doing all the time, and that inhibited me terribly until I found out I didn’t need to go through all that at all.


My work is like making love, if you'll forgive me. It has to spring from the moment, from what I feel at the moment. That's all. In Chicago I wandered around, not even looking for things to photograph, not consciously, but then something would strike me, and that would be it. As simple as that.

And yet I will say that my background is more literary than anything, and my work was very much influenced by the French symbolist poets. You'll have to make what you can of that, I'm afraid.

Technique interests me of course... more than it does Henri Cartier-Bresson for example, though I admire his work very much. But less than it does Weston and Ansel Adams and Strand, none of whom I admire.

But the main thing is whether you have something original, something all your own to say. And I'm afraid the only photographers I can think of who do invent, who create their own new way for themselves are myself, Henri, and Helen Leavitt. As for the rest, they're all imitating somebody. Why bother to do that ? Don't ask me, but 30,000 of them do. I'm sorry about it, I don't like to insult 30,000 people.

Since I do have something of my own to say, I don't worry too much about technique. I use all different kinds of cameras – I am especially fond of my Rolleflex - but I use a view camera very seldom. Mobility is for me more important than the advantages of a view camera, which needs a tripod. Why, if I know what I want, I can photograph it even from the back of a moving car. If it's there it's there. At Fortune, they realize I'm a writer too.

Written by Walker Evans, November 21, 1947.

Walker Evans

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