The kinetic quality of New York, the kids, dirt, madness - I tried to find a photographic style that would come close to it. So I cropped, blurred, played with the negatives.
French photography was basically poetic, and mine was vulgar and brash and violent, except that there's never any violence in the photographs: it's only in the photographic style.
My way of living and working is that I'll do my thing. I went from one thing to another. That annoyed people. They didn't know how to categorize me.
I'm known for fashion photographs, but fashion photographs were mostly a joke for me. In 'Vogue,' girls were playing at being duchesses, but they were actually from Flatbush, Brooklyn. They would play duchesses, and I would play Cecil Beaton.
I was a very clumsy Jewish kid.
You do things for yourself, and you do things for other people, and you hope that these things coincide.
If I look back, I think most of the things I did - the films, the books, the collaborations with these magazines - were mostly by accident.
I discovered that I could do whatever I wanted with a negative in a darkroom and an enlarger.
My grandfather and his wife came to America at the end of the 19th century from Hungary. Everyone started out on the Lower East Side. They became embourgeoise and would move to the Upper West Side. Then, if they'd make money, they'd move to Park Avenue. Their kids would become artists and move down to the Lower East Side and the Village.
In fashion, you have assistants, flashes; you can make sets. There are people running around doing things for you. But I can take it or leave it.
I grew up in Manhattan. For Manhattanites, Brooklyn was the sticks, a second-rate civilization. My friends and I, we were so snobby. Living in the Bronx or Brooklyn was incredible... for me, that was like a foreign country.
I like festivals of all kinds: in 1969, I made a film about the first Pan-African festival in Algiers, which celebrated the countries that had been liberated 10 years earlier. There was a tremendous feeling of kinship.
For my first book, 'New York,' I had one camera and two lenses. It was fotografia povera.
The digital camera takes photographs in practically no light: it will dig out the least bit of light available. I was amazed to see the results of photographs that I wouldn't take ordinarily. That's the advantage of digital photography.
If a film is a real knockout like 'Raging Bull,' it does not matter that it might not have happened like that.
My sister was brilliant: she was in the 25 top math students in the country. When she finished college, I said, 'Spend a couple of months here in Europe. You'll get another take on life.' She never came - married some schmuck who made clothes for fat women on Seventh Avenue.
In America, kids would go to college and get out and buy a second-hand car and go across the country and discover America. I never did that; I went from New York to Paris, and New York was my America.
I had no real respect for good technique because I didn't know what it was. I was self-taught, so that stuff didn't matter to me.
This is supposed to be the Big Apple, with neighborhoods where the houses are all good-looking and the skyscrapers and everything. But to me, New York is kind of shoddy and uncomfortable.
Fashion was more of a sideline for me. I did it for the money.