Finally, there is the accident of words: what wells up when we make space for such occurrence, when we lie on the bed in morning sunlight and bring laptop to lap. I’ve often heard it said, most recently by novelist Monica Ali, that as writers “we’re not at liberty to choose the material, the material chooses us.” Geoff Dyer has noted parallel statements by photographers: “It is the photo that takes you” (Henri Cartier-Bresson), “I don’t press the shutter, the image does” (Arbus), and one from Paul Strand on choosing his subjects: “I don’t… . They choose me.” While I’ve always intuited this about pictures, I was skeptical when it came to words. But I now know it to be true, beyond any doubt, for writing as well.
- Moyra Davey, Notes on Photography