Susan Sontag and I used to party together in St Tropez, and one morning as we sat on the beach sipping mimosas and watching the sunrise, I told her that “all photographs are memento mori”. She subsequently quoted me in On Photography (sans credit but c’est la vie) and further defined memento mori as “mortality, vulnerability, mutability.” Ultimately I take pictures in an effort to stop time; that and celebrity sightings.
The most important invention of modern times! I cannot live without my cellphone – it is my connection to the world, my eye on the times, the mirror I hold up to apply my lipstick.
Digital v. Film – still a topic?
Mary Ann or Ginger? Chicken or Egg? Van Helsing or Van Johnson? Tomato or Tomato? In the 21st century it comes down to preference; there is no right or wrong. You can have one, both, neither or something else altogether. Be camera neutral, camera variant , camera fluid.
Is the equipment important?
How did you learn to photograph?
Cecil Beaton and I were slumming in the Bowery one day when he asked me if I’d like to hold his Brownie. I was taken aback at first but when I realized what he meant I was all for it. He gave me a few pointers on where to aim and what to look for and when to run. This was my first lesson in photography.
Are photographs “taken” or “made”?
Neither. They are conceived and birthed.
Is photography art?
Is this still a topic? In my circles there is no question that photography is art but as with every art form amateurs abound. When the tool is in the hands of a master (or one aware enough to become a master) then you got yourself some art.
Where do you go to look at photographs?
I used to attend Irving Penn’s soirees in Manhattan where I would thumb through his photo albums and gaze at his snapshots on the wall. Berenice would also bring along her albums for anyone who cared to take a peek. Currently in Toronto I go to the annual Contact event. Last year I saw Fred Herzog’s photos of 1950s Vancouver. Wonderful work. I also went to the Stephen Bulgar Gallery to see that NYC nanny’s work. She had great photo chops.
Who is it for – you or them?
I spent two years in a Zen monastery at the invitation of Leonard Cohen to learn that there is no me or them. We are all one. Except for Rob Ford – he’s all on his own.
Crystal Lamont has been holed up completing her Doctorates in Philosophy and Millinery.
It is usually very difficult to have an audience with Ms Lamont but we thank aamora’s Marie Wilson for using her influence to obtain this interview.