Most photographers dread having to talk about their work—they’re visual people, not word people, or so goes the logic. Yet a new book published by Daylight, a nonprofit organization centered on art and photography, managed to coax more than 70 high-profile photographers out from behind their camera to talk about “failed attempts to make a picture.” Photographs Not Taken was conceived and edited by photographer/writer Will Steacy, who asked each photographer “to abandon the camera and, instead, use words to recreate the image that never made it through their lens.”
The 232-page paperback, available at Daylight’s online store for $14.95, features essays by Roger Ballen, Elinor Carucci, Kelli Connell, Tim Hetherington, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Mary Ellen Mark, and Nadav Kander, among other notable photographers.
“It’s not all heady internal debates or moral decisions not to shoot; occasionally, the moment simply slips away,” writes Peter Moskowitz in a New York Times Lens blog piece on Photographs Not Taken. “The collection is a reminder of the limits of photography as a document of experience.” And then he goes on to quote Nadav’s essay: “Sometimes, you just get an instinct when to put the camera down and be fully present.”
More details, including audio clips of some of the photographers reading their essays, can be found here.