Robert Frank (November 9, 1924 – September 9, 2019) was an American photographer and documentary filmmaker. His most notable work, the 1958 book titled The Americans, earned Frank comparisons to a modern-day de Tocqueville for his fresh and nuanced outsider's view of American society.
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- I have been frequently accused of deliberately twisting subject matter to my point of view. Above all, I know that life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference. Opinion often consists of a kind of criticism. But criticism can come out of love. It is important to see what is invisible to others — perhaps the look of hope or the look of sadness. Also, it is always the instantaneous reaction to oneself that produces a photograph.
My photographs are not planned or composed in advance, and I do not anticipate that the onlooker will share my viewpoint. However, I feel that if my photograph leaves an image on his mind, something has been accomplished.
- Robert Frank, "Statement, 1958"; republished in: Vicki Goldberg. Photography in Print: Writings from 1816 to the Present, 1981, p. 401
- Black and white are the colors of photography. To me, they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected. Most of my photographs are of people; they are seen simply, as through the eyes of the man in the street. There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment. This kind of photography is realism. But realism is not enough—there has to be vision and the two together can make a good photograph. It is difficult to describe this thin line where matter ends and mind begins.
- Robert Frank, in: Nathan Lyons, Photographers on photography: a critical anthology, (1966), p. 66
- Life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference and it is important to see what is invisible to others.
- Robert Frank, cited in: Robet Hirsch, Photographic Possibilities, 2009, p. ix