Gary Winogrand on Risk Taking


I just read a post on the O'Reilly Digital Media Blog about a prolific photographer named Gary Winogrand. I hadn't heard of him before, but the guy shot well over 300,000 photos during his career, all on film.

"You don't learn anything from repeating what you know, in affect, so I keep trying to make (the process) uncertain. The nature of the photographic process - it is about failure. Most everything I do doesn't quite make it. The failures can be intelligent; nothing ventured nothing gained. Hopefully you're risking failing every time you make a frame."

- Gary Winogrand, in an interview with Bill Moyers (1982)

Gary also had an interesting take on the editing process. He would apparently leave film undeveloped for at least a year (or longer) after a shoot, so his editorial decisions weren't clouded by the emotions felt during the shoot. He didn't want to be selecting the best shots while he could still remember any details of doing the actual shoot. That is an amazing level of self restraint, something that is probably much, much harder now in the days of instant digital processing and cataloging.


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