March 1992
By Paul Gardner
Photo Editor: Virginia Wadsworth Middlemiss
The photograph gives us the power of seeing the world around us with new eyes. But what about the photographic "eyes" themselves, when they spot a favorite or influential image taken by another photographer?

"When you see an image you wish you'd taken, this isn't jealousy, it's being impressed," observes Mary Ellen Mark. "Some of the early pictures by Robert Frank, with his sense of atmosphere, put me in a place where I thought I'd been before. I look at others to be inspired, but then press on with a fresh eye of my own." By contrast Duane Michals was once captivated by a photograph of Edmund Teske because "it was a mirror of my state of mind-summing up feelings of death, dreams, lost youth. It caught something deep within me."

A survey that ranges from star names to new names to those whose reputation increases each season finds that emotional significance, metaphorical juxtaposition, and spatial integrity make the deepest impression. Although some images may have been taken by Henri-Cartier Bresson or Walker Evans, others are the work of NASA, Buster Keaton, or Anonymous. And how do the photographic "eyes" feel when the word art is applied to their work or others'? "I take photographs," says Lee Friedlander. "If the word art brushes off onto something I've done, it's all right with me. I keep an open mind."




The first photographs that struck me early on were by Henri Cartier‑Bresson. A boatman and a dog coming off a boat. Prostitutes in Mexico. He makes images that stay with you forever, and that's what everyone strives to do. Great content, design, light. His images are icons that sum up feelings and emotions. I relate to images that look at reality but transcend the moment. I also think of Eugene Smith's photographs of a country doctor and André Kertész' Satiric Dancer, which captures grace, a time of day, and a woman. Something about that image hits you in the heart.