Our favourite creativity and photography quotes to inspire you!


Our favourite creativity and photography quotes to inspire you!

All photographers and creative people need inspiration to flourish. If you’re creatively drained, or just looking for a captivating quote to use for a project, look no further. We share over 300 of our favourite creativity and photography quotes to inspire and motivate you!

These quotes by some of world’s the most influential artists and creative people are mostly true while at times they are only half-truths, contradictory, or even preposterous. And yet we would have been poorer for not having them. 


For me, light is life – and the first light that I see is the sun. So, when I think about light, I think about the sun and nothing else. Window light is the most important light for me. When I take a picture using window light, I always think about what a long trip the light is making to reach my subject.

Paulo Roversi

I have seized the light. I have arrested its flight.

– Louis Daguerre

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.

– Aaron Rose

Shadows play an integral role in letting sunlight permeate the scene. They provide a ‘setting’ that compliments the sun-kissed lights. Often, shadows will have a golden tint, or even a rosy red color that conveys a unique atmospheric glow.

– Jeanne Dobie

My philosophy on lighting is that any scene and any light situation can be enhanced by using flash in some capacity, even if it is only a subtle rim light, a hair light, or just a punch from a key light to lift the shadows.

– Trompie van der Berg

Available light is any damn light that is available!

– W. Eugene Smith

Play with natural light and practice a lot. Try shooting the same object with varying lighting conditions (different times of day, sidelight, backlight, different angles) and study what effects they have on your photos. The understanding of light will help you to take your photography to another level.

Sarka Babicka

To learn the magic of light, get up before sunrise…and watch.

– Ted Grant

All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow. 

– Leo Tolstoy

Light is inseparable from shadow. Shadow lives on the edge of light. Shadow complements the light. It transforms ordinary objects into extraordinary subjects by adding mood and atmosphere whilst elevating your photos into the realm of feeling and imagination.  

– Danie Bester

Always keep the direction of the light source clearly in mind and keep asking yourself, ‘How light is it?’ and ‘How dark is it?’ 

– Leoni Duff

A grey day provides the best light.

– Leonardo da Vinci

The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.

– Gregory Maguire

Once I learned to cook, I took to food photography like a duck to hoisin. My tip would be to keep it simple, clean and use daylight when you can.

– Steve Ryan

What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.

– John Berger

I never went to school for photography. I learned lighting by working as an assistant. I learned by looking at the photographs of the Masters of Photography and the paintings of the Great Masters. You never invent: you simply take your influences from the giants before you.

– Paulo Roversi

All the masterpieces of art contain both light and shadow. A happy life is not one filled with only sunshine, but one which used both light and shadow to produce beauty.

– Billy Graham

John Loengard, the picture editor at Life, always used to tell me, ‘If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.’

Joe McNally

The subject is nothing, light is everything.

– Léonard Misonne

Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.

– George Eastman

The photographer is a manipulator of light; photography is a manipulation of light.

– Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Light is a thing that cannot be reproduced but must be represented by something else – by color.

– Paul Cezanne

You’ve got to taste the light, like my friend and fellow shooter Chip Maury says. And when you see light like this, trust me, it’s like a strawberry sundae with sprinkles.

– Joe McNally

Wherever there is light, one can photograph.

– Alfred Stieglitz

Wherever there is no light, one cannot photograph.

– Danie Bester


Interviewer: Is that how you see the camera; simply as a tool? Like a brush?

Bresson: Exactly!

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

The fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium. Instead, they allow the medium to master them and go on and endless squirrel cage chase from new lens to new paper to new developer to new gadget, never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities, becoming lost in a maze of technical information that is of little or no use since they don’t know what to do with it.

– Edward Weston

It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.

– Eve Arnold

The best camera is the one that’s with you.

Chase Jarvis

You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.

– Ansel Adams

Let the subject generate its own photographs. Become a camera.

– Minor White

There is some kind of genius of the medium. Photographers don’t want to hear this by the way, but when you look at enough vernacular photography, all the diverse sorts, you begin to think is the camera that’s doing this work. The human operator is just the one pushing the button.

– Luc Sante

The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.

– Ansel Adams

When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.

– Anonymous

For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

The camera captures light, our minds capture images.

– Anonymous

Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gismos. Photography is about Photographers. A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.

Peter Adams

There are no accidental masterpieces in painting, but there are accidental masterpieces in photography.

Chuck Close

Get it out of your head that good cameras create good photos.

– Danie Bester

It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

If you have something to say with a camera then show it, otherwise it’s better to bake a cake.

Jason Eskenazi

Gear is Good, but Vision is Better.

David duChemin


I was attracted to photography because it was technical, full of gadgets, and I was obsessed with science. But at some point, around fifteen or sixteen, I had a sense that photography could provide a bridge from the world of science to the world of art or image. Photography was a means of crossing into a new place I didn’t know.

– Adam Fuss

The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.

– Joan Miro

This photographic thing has changed the entire vision of the world. It will go through every activity of humanity – science, medicine, space, ESP, for peace, against peace, entertainment, television, movies, all of them – you will not find one without photography. 

– Lisette Model

Photography for me is a passion, a mixture of science and art that creates magic. If a day goes by without photography, it’s incomplete. 

– Scott MacQuarrie

Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.

– Leonardo da Vinci


Art is meant to disturb, science reassures.

– Georges Braque


Creative photography is where science and art break even.

The art is the challenge which you must meet every day: the technique you should learn to control with time. The science and the art of photography are really one, and not opposed to each other.

– Yousuf Karsh

The problem for me is that I’ve never actually studied photography, so it’s quite a steep learning curve. Cameras these days do so much for you automatically, but I still think there’s a point where you should actually know the technical side.

– Graeme Le Saux

Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy. 

– Albert Einstein


To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

– Elliott Erwitt

My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport

– Steve McCurry

It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.

– David Bailey

I like it when one is not certain what one sees.

– Saul Leiter

When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.

– Anonymous

Letting go of yourself is an essential precondition of real seeing.

– Freeman Patterson

A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into

– Ansel Adams

Attention to detail is the primary difference between a snapshot and a photograph.

– Michael O’Brien

I always feel like the art’s there and I just see it, so it’s not really a lot of work.

– Damien Hirst

Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.

– Walker Evans

One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.

– Annie Leibovitz

We never see a photograph all at once. Our vision doesn’t work that way. … We have to look at all the parts of the photograph and then assemble it in our minds eye. This is the one of the fascinating things about good art work. It always brings forth that element of imagination and requires you to use your mind to really see it, because your eye can’t possible see it all.

– Brooks Jensen

Photography teaches you to look. To appreciate all kinds of things.

– Saul Leiter

As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs.

– Sam Abell

Of what use are lens and light to those who lack in mind and sight?

– Anonymous

It’s been said that the role of the artist is to teach us to see and that’s true. However, the role of other artists is to teach me how they see. To learn how I see is something that cannot be taught but must be learned.

– Brooks Jensen

Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.

– Matt Hardy

Photography through the camera is an instrument of detection. We photograph not only what we know, but also what we don’t know.

– Lisette Model

The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?

– Edward Weston

It fascinates me that there is a variety of feeling about what I do. I’m not a premeditative photographer. I see a picture and I make it. If I had a chance, I’ would be out shooting all the time. You don’t have to go looking for pictures. The material is generous. You go out and the pictures are staring at you.

– Lee Friedlander

Looking at, studying, and absorbing good photography serves the same purpose for a beginning photographer. That is because learning the components of a good image – composition, lighting, gesture – and seeing those elements used differently over and over by different masters, makes it easier for a person to achieve the same end on his or her own over time. And there is simply is no alternative to this, no shortcut.

– Frank Van Riper

The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.

– Annie Leibovitz 

Warhol was the ultimate voyeur, constantly observing people through the lens. He watched and listened but did not participate. Behind the camera, Warhol was in control.

– Alison Jackson

The eye should learn to listen before it looks.

– Robert Frank

I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.

– Ernst Haas

We must revolutionise our optical perception. We must remove the veil from our eyes. 

– Alexander Rodchenko

The essential things in life are seen, not with the eyes but with the heart.

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.

– Paul Valery


Choosing how I want the viewer’s eye to travel in the picture.

– Nelson Shanks

A composition is an arrangement, built out of parts, that aims at seamlessness.

– Eric Maisel

Developing a composition is a creative process involving intuition and thinking more than following rules.

– Alessandra Bitelli

Composition, an arbitrary, inexact process, appears to be guided best by intuition and chance rather than science.

– Peter Ciccariello

Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the various elements which the painter uses to express his sentiments. In a picture every separate part will be visible and… everything which has no utility in the picture is for that reason harmful.

– Henri Matisse

The diagonal gives energy to a composition.

– Gail Siptak

The foreground is like the door to the composition, so it should have the biggest value and color temperature contrasts and the highest intensities to invite viewers in. The middle-ground contains the important things the viewer came for, so it should be subtler, like a pleasant conversation going on in the main room of the house. Finally, the background is like the walls of the house, supporting the middle-ground, so it should possess little contrast or intensity.

– Aleksander Titovets

I love the complicated logic of a perfect composition. It is not just the shapes and lines that make one travel through a painting. It’s the placement of the strongest colors, the sharpest lines, and the dominant shapes.

– Kathryn Stats

There is no better time to crop a bad composition than just before you press the shutter release. 

– Bryan Peterson

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.

– Ansel Adams

Don’t look at the Flip Screen, Look Through it.

–Werner Herzog

Before you compose your picture it’s a good idea to ask yourself why you’re doing it.

– Anonymous

I just walk around, observing the subject from various angles until the picture elements arrange themselves into a composition that pleases my eye.

– Andre Kertesz

By having the big lines of the composition going out of the canvas, your imagination can wander beyond the edge. It will make it seem part of a large composition.

– Charles Hawthorne

When you feel like putting something into your picture or do not know what is the matter with it, take something out.

– Harvey Dunn

Good composition is like a suspension bridge; each line adds strength and takes none away… Making lines run into each other is not composition. There must be motive for the connection. Get the art of controlling the observer – that is composition.

– Robert Henri

The composition gets strengthened by adding lines that don’t exist in nature. That language has much more impact than a literal painting. The beautiful ‘composed’ scene, which follows the invented lines, talks to us.

– Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

When I begin a composition, I try to clearly understand the idea behind the subject… my subconscious tends to reinforce the idea by complementing and contrasting colours in patterns around the subject, leading mind and vision to the center of the composition.

– Ken Strong

Consulting the rules of composition before taking a photograph is like consulting the laws of gravity before going for a walk. 

 Edward Weston

As in construction, correct support is a priority. Everything must be balanced, straight, level, plumb, and square.

– Marvin Humphrey

All you need to do is walk away from your painting several feet, turn around and look. This… will keep you looking at the entire composition all the way through the process.

– Sandra Taylor Hedges

It is important that the artist… understands the importance of composition, the golden mean… the universal symbols… The concept of perfect balance is an intricate part of this process, not only in the art but in our lives.

Kathleen Carrillo

I find a single focus in the scene and then play everything off that one thing.

Kenn Backhaus

The anatomy of the picture is always more important than the anatomy of the subject.

– Marc Awodey

Realtors preach – ‘Location, Location, Location,’ while artists should preach – ‘Composition, Composition, Composition.’

– Doug Mays

I have learned from nature that all is equal… all is equal and in balance. I see everything as fitting together.

– Joseph Raffael

When we look at a painting, listen to a piece of music, read a novel, or watch a movie we are taking in the artist’s composition. The composition is the totality of the work.

– Mike Svob

To compose a subject well means no more than to see and present it in the strongest manner possible.

– Edward Weston

Even in front of nature one must compose.

– Edgar Degas

What can I do to my composition to make it say more? There is no wrong time in the planning process to ask this question, and the creative thought can come at any moment.

– Tom Huntley

A good photograph is knowing where to stand.

– Ansel Adams

I like it when one is not certain what one sees.

– Saul Leiter


Photography is like a moment, an instant. You need a half-second to get the photo. So it’s good to capture people when they are themselves.

Patrick Demarchelier

A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.

– Edward Steichen

When you go to take someone’s picture, the first thing they say is, what you want me to do? Everyone is very awkward.

– Annie Leibovitz

My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain.

– Helmut Newton

You have a living, breathing subject that you need to make a connection with. 

Brian Smith

There is no single form or style of portraiture. Portraiture means individualism and as such means diversity, self-expression, private point of view. The most successful images seem to be those which exist on several planes at once and which reflect the fantasy and understanding of many.

 Peter Bunnell 

There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.

– Robert Frank

What I look for in pictures I take: eyes, hands, head tilt, body language, background and use of space. 

– Caroline Mueller

It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.

– Alfred Eisenstaedt

I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.

– Ellen Von Unwerth

To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder – a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.

– Susan Sontag

He owned an expensive camera that required thought before you pressed the shutter, and I quickly became his favourite subject, round-faced, missing teeth, my thick bangs in need of a trim. They are still the pictures of myself I like best, for they convey that confidence of youth I no longer possess, especially in front of a camera.

– Jhumpa Lahiri

A good portrait is incredibly hard to create, there is too much temptation to pander to the individual rather than portray them as they really were. 

– Philippe Halsman

When you photograph a face… you photograph the soul behind it.

– Jean-Luc Godard

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.

– Mother Teresa

People are at their best when they can be natural. And that’s the hardest thing as a photographer.


Mapplethorpe presented the body as a sexual object, separating it from the humanity of the person. He added nothing to photography as a medium. I hold his work in low regard.

– Jerzy Kosinski

The dog is the perfect portrait subject. He doesn’t pose. He isn’t aware of the camera.

– Patrick Demarchelier

I never made a person look bad. They do that themselves. The portrait is your mirror. It’s you. 

– August Sander

So many people dislike themselves so thoroughly that they never see any reproduction of themselves that suits. None of us is born with the right face. It’s a tough job being a portrait photographer. 

– Imogen Cunningham

It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.

– Paul Caponigro

In a portrait, you have room to have a point of view. The image may not be literally what’s going on, but it’s representative.

– Annie Leibovitz


In photography, you’ve got to be quick, quick, quick, quick. Like an animal and a prey.

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

Photography is a magical kind of art that allows people to preserve time and moments, and to describe the world the way they see it.

– Sahara Sanders

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

– Aaron Siskind

The best images are the ones that retain their strength and impact over the years, regardless of the number of times they are viewed.

– Anne Geddes

We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory.  

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at the picture for a second and think of it all your life.

– Joan Miro

I don’t just look at the thing itself or at the reality itself; I look around the edges for that little askew moments, kind of like what makes up our lives. Those slightly awkward, lovely moments.

– Keith Carter

What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.

– Karl Lagerfeld

There is a brief moment when all there is in a man’s mind and soul and spirit are reflected in his eyes, his hands, his attitude. This is the moment to record.

– Yousuf Karsh

Of all the means of expression, photography is the only one that fixes a precise moment in time.

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

With photography, a new language has been created. Now for the first time, it is possible to express reality by reality. We can look at an impression as long as we wish, we can delve into it and, so to speak, renew past experiences at will.

– Ernst Haas

Photographs objectify: they turn an event or a person into something that can be possessed.

– Susan Sontag

It is a cruel, ironical art, photography. The dragging of captured moments into the future; moments that should have been allowed to evaporate into the past; should exist only in memories, glimpsed through the fog of events that came after. Photographs force us to see people before their future weighed them down. 

– Kate Morton

A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity that will never cease looking back at you.

– Brigitte Bardot

Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.

Bruce Gilden

Portraits are the most intimate photographs. The image will survive the subject.

– Victor Skrebneski


Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken by the wind.

– Johannes Brahms

I am a professional photographer by trade and an amateur photographer by vocation.

– Elliot Erwitt

Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.

–  Percy W. Harri

When you see a picture printed in an exhibition, or in a book, you don’t see all of the pictures that went into creating that picture.

– David Levene

One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.

– Dorothea Lange

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.

― Richard Bach

Artistic self-indulgence is the mark of an amateur. The temptation to make scenes, to appear late, to call in sick, not to meet deadlines, not to be organized, is at heart a sign of your own insecurity and at worst the sign of an amateur.

– Harold Prince

What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous hard work in the right way.

– Winslow Homer

The ability to make a truly artistic photograph is not acquired off-hand but is the result of an artistic instinct coupled with years of labor.

– Alfred Stieglitz

The real issue is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire and persistence.

– Milton Glaser

Don’t lose your visual voice due to inconsistency. Without consistency, your vision will be worthless. Your work will be just another tiny speck amongst all the visual clutter out there. 

– Danie Bester

Something mediocre is better than nothing, and often the near misses are the beckoning hands that bring you to perfection just around the blind corner. 

– Sally Mann

Creativity is good for somebody who is a good craftsman. If you know the basics, if you know your profession really well, then you can navigate and try other things.

– Wolfgang Puck

You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.

– William Albert Allard


When people look at my pictures, I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.

– Robert Frank

Photography is all about light, composition and, most importantly, emotion. 

– Larry Wilder

Art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

– Rainbow Rowell

A work of art must not be something that leaves a man unmoved, something he passes by with a casual glance. It has to make him react, feel strongly, start creating too, if only in his imagination.

– Pablo Picasso

At this time in the history of photography, everything has been done. All the novelties have been done. All we have to look for now is, as a picture, does it move my heartstrings? If it does, why should I condemn it just because it happens to look like something Weston did?

– Minor White

Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.

– Don McCullin

Often while traveling with a camera we arrive just as the sun slips over the horizon of a moment, too late to expose the film, only time enough to expose our hearts.

– Minor White


If you want to be a better photographer stand in front of more interesting stuff.

– Jim Richardson

Of what use are lens and light to those who lack in mind and sight?

– Anonymous

In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little, human detail can become a leitmotiv.

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Each day enrapture me with your marvellous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all: I ask only to share the wonder of it all.

– Rabbi Joshua Abraham Heschel

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.

– Diane Arbus

If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.

– Gary Winogrand

The best photographs you make will be the things you are most passionate about. Go photograph those things that you really care about deeply.

– Brooks Jensen

Ultimately, photography is subversive, not when it frightens, repels, or even stigmatizes, but when it is pensive when it thinks.

– Roland Barthes

Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times… I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.

– Elliott Erwitt

Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.

– Ansel Adams

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.

– Ansel Adams

Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.

– Man Ray

No matter how much crap you gotta plow through to stay alive as a photographer, no matter how many bad assignments, bad days, bad clients, snotty subjects, obnoxious handlers, wigged-out art directors, technical disasters, failures of the mind, body, and will, all the shoulda’s, coulda’s, and woulda’s that befuddle our brains and creep into our dreams, always remember to make room to shoot what you love. It’s the only way to keep your heart beating as a photographer.

– Joe McNally

Art is either revolution or plagiarism.

– Paul Gauguin

If you are bored with your own photography you are really bored with what you are photographing, so pick a new subject about which you are knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

– Bill Jay

You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.

– Elliott Erwitt

If you’re not having fun, your pictures will reflect that.

– Joe McNally

Only photograph what you love.

– Tim Walker

A lot of people think that when you have grand scenery, such as you have in Yosemite, that photography must be easy.