Magnum photographer David Hurn’s documentary photographs are distinguished by their quiet observation and remarkable insight. “Life as it unfolds in front of the camera is full of so much complexity, wonder and surprise that I find it unnecessary to create new realities,” he writes. “There is more pleasure, for me, in things as they are.” Hurn fell in love with the state of Arizona, in the United States, and made several trips back between 1979 and 2001, turning his eye to ordinary Arizonians in their daily life, their schools, exercise classes, holidays and their landscape. His new book entitled Arizona Trips contains more than 150 photographs on the subject. The British photographer is here in conversation with writer Sir Christopher Frayling.
A magnificent volume curated with insight and appreciation for a true master of his art. Magnum photographer David Hurn’s rendering of the 1960s encompasses both Hollywood screen idols and East End sun-seekers; headline news, alongside rituals unchanged for centuries
“Reportage photography is a kind of stalking,” says David. “Although a photographer only really has two controls – where they stand and when they release the shutter – the great photographers so often get luck on their side.”
“I could see from the contacts that when they sensed a situation had potential they began a series of individual pictures and adjusted their shooting position to get clarity. They continued shooting as they felt the most pertinent moment was happening.”
“Often the great photographers shot beyond this moment as no one could say what would happen next. They only stopped when they knew that the excitement was over.”
“The result was a contact sheet of a series of pictures of which one might be the most significant. Perhaps the moment never happened, but from the contact sheet you could read the mind of the photographer at work.”