|No photograph ever was good, yet, of anybody--hunger and thirst and utter
wretchedness overtake the outlaw who invented it! It transforms into desperadoes
the meekest of men; depicts sinless innocence upon the pictured faces of
ruffians; gives the wise man the stupid leer of a fool, and a fool an expression
of more than earthly wisdom. If a man tries to look serious when he sits
for his picture the photograph makes him look as solemn as an owl; if he
smiles, the photograph smirks repulsively; if he tries to look pleasant,
the photograph looks silly; if he makes the fatal mistake of attempting
to seem pensive, the camera will surely write him down as an ass. The sun
never looks through the photographic instrument that it does not print a
lie. The piece of glass it prints it on is well named a "negative"--a
contradiction--a misrepresentation--a falsehood. I speak feeling of this
matter, because by turns the instrument has represented me to be a lunatic,
a Soloman, a missionary, a burglar and an abject idiot, and I am neither.
- Letter to the Sacramento Daily Union, written July 1, 1866
"Among other honors heaped upon me by Englishmen was that of being photographed
in parliament. I am not a member of parliament. But neither am I a member of
congress. Has any fellow-American suggested that I should be photographed in
congress? No! I blush to say they have not. And yet here is an honor that might
without risk to bestowed on any great man. However, it was not bestowed upon
Washington, Jefferson or Lincoln. When I saw that photograph, with the mother
of parliaments in the background and realized my advancing years, I said to
myself, 'here are two noble monuments of antiquity--two shining examples of
the survival of the fittest.'"
- quoted in the Boston Daily Globe, May 1, 1910, p. 56 in an article titled "His Camera Craze."
July 1907, London England
Photograph by Sir Benjamin Stone.
|A photograph is a most important document,
and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly,
foolish smile caught and fixed forever.
- quoted by Elizabeth Wallace in Mark Twain and the Happy Island, 1913
From Idaho Daily Stateman, February 4, 1906
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