Ralph Steiner, [Steiner’s Meat Market, Merry Xmas]
Ralph Steiner, [How Big Can Small Be?]
“Eventually I discovered for myself the utterly simple prescription for creativity: be intensely yourself. Don’t try to be outstanding; don’t try to be a success; don’t try to do pictures for others to look at—just please yourself. My father used to say: “Erst komm ich; damn komm ich noch wieder; damn komm ich noch einmal wieder.” When the registrar of the Paris Conservatoire asked Debussy what rules he followed, Debussy’s answer was: “Mon plaisir.” E.E. Cummings put it: “To be yourself and nobody but yourself in a world which is trying night and day to make you everybody but yourself is to fight the hardest battle there is and never stop fighting.”
As I’ve said, for a while in the twenties there was a fashion for making photographs look as much as possible like nineteenth-century painting. Stieglitz himself, in the early days of Camera Work, fell into this trap, but later he was in the forefront to establish photography as a medium with its own values. He also put to rest the debilitating question that was so often debated: “Is photography art?” by making the most terse and apt statement of his life. He said: “I like some photographs more than most paintings and some paintings more than most photographs.
Ralph Steiner, A Point of View, Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1979, pp. 6–7