When photographer and former Magnum president Charles Harbutt died on June 29, we called Alex Webb, one of the many photographers Harbutt mentored, for comment. Webb described Harbutt as “a remarkable teacher” who “thought about photography in interesting
Charles Harbutt, a member of Magnum from 1963 to 1981, died at the end of June, 2015. A unique and remarkable photographer, he was president of Magnum twice — from 1970-1972 and 1976-1978 — and was an important presence in the agency for many years. Charlie was also a singular teacher — as well as an insightful and thought provoking writer on photography, as exhibited by the following texts, which are excerpts from his three monographs. We at Magnum will miss him deeply and send our condolences to his widow, the photographer Joan Liftin, and his children, Sarah, Charles, and Damian. — Alex Webb
AMERICANSUBURB X: THEORY: “Charles Harbutt – I Don’t Take Pictures; Pictures Take Me (1972)”:
How is this continuum of photographer, world, and camera achieved? Each person must find it individually, but for me it has flowed from the realization that I don’t take pictures, pictures take me. I can do nothing except have film in the camera and be alert. My adversary, a photograph, stalks the world like a roaring lion. Pictures happen. One can only trust one’s sensitivity, the bounty of the world, and the chemistry of Kodak. This is the photographic method.