One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means. A lot of the time our ideas about what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. They’re sucked in from other people. And we also suck in messages from everything from the television to advertising to marketing, etcetera. These are hugely powerful forces that define what we want and how we view ourselves. What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.
The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, the sin of postponement, failed communications, failed communions. This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters. meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked. This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.
Anne-Celine Jaeger: “What kind of advice would you give to a budding photographer?” Thomas Demand: “I don’t teach photography students, and if they think they can make use of a camera, that’s fine. But probably they’ve started at the wrong end because they’ve chosen their medium before they’ve chosen their content. Having said that, the chances of making it as an artist are so small, I’d advice anyone to do something they are really passionate about, rather than speculating about what other people might be interested in. That way, if you don’t make it, which is quite likely, you at least know you were working on something that meant something to you.
From the book “IMAGE MAKERS IMAGE TAKERS” by Anne-Celine Jaeger, edited by Thames & Hudson, 2010