Photography Quotes 2018-01-16T11:35:07+00:00

Photography quotes by influential photographers and creatives to inspire you…

“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

“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 

I guess art itself is insane. Its actual function is rarely clear, and yet people give their hearts and souls and lives to it and have for all of history.

– Damien Chazelle

“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

“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

“Here’s the dilemma and the strength of photography. It is the easiest medium in which to be competent, but it is the hardest medium in which to have personal vision that is readily identifiable”

– Chuck Close

“I think photographers did plant their tripod feet in the places where the easels of the painters had stood”

– Mark Haworth-Booth (Photo Historian)

”Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”

– Diane Arbus 

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

– Ernst Haas

“When art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.”

– Pablo Picasso

“Your first 10, 000 photographs are your worst” 

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Don’t pack up your camera until you’ve left the location.”

– Joe McNally

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

– Saul Leiter 

“A picture is worth a thousand words; A fine art print so much more” 

– Steve Denby

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

– Ansel Adams

“There are no accidental masterpieces in painting, but there are accidental masterpieces in photography”

– Chuck Close

“The subject is nothing, light is everything,”

–Léonard Misonne

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera”

– Yousuf Karsh

“I get my best Ideas in Taxi Cabs, sitting in traffic, drooling… I am allowing my subconscious to take over”

– Paula Scher

“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 (Writer)

“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 art of photography is created without theories and without a continuous artistic tradition, but by amateurs who are discovering by making pictures”

– Peter Galassi (Chief Photography Curator, MoMA NY)

“If you find yourself out shooting a client and you’re saying in your head ‘oh I’ll just fix that later in photoshop’ stop what you’re doing and slap yourself as hard as you can. You’re being mediocre ” 

– Zack Arias

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

“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

“I don’t believe that one photograph is better than another; rather one is more interesting than another. So, basically, ‘you get what you take’. If the objects in front of the camera are interesting enough ‘you take them’, and if they are not ‘you make them”

– Obie Oberholzer

“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

“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

“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


“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

As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.

–Amy Poehler

“Black and white presents the viewer with a single message; it gets rid of the complexities, dynamics and differences of colour. It forces the eye to examine the composition and content; it keeps the mind free from excess data.” 

– Danie Bester

“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”

― Richard Avedon

“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

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

– Karl Lagerfeld

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

– Ansel Adams

 “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”

– Albert Einstein

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

– Johannes Brahms

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

–Werner Herzog

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

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!”

– Ansel Adams

“I photograph to see what the world looks like in photographs.”

– Garry Winogrand

“Photography is a love affair with life.”

– Burk Uzzle

“If you’re not in a state of play, you can’t make anything”

– Paula Scher

“Since I am inarticulate, I express myself with images.”

– Helen Levitt

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

–Damien Hirst

“Letting go of yourself is an essential precondition of real seeing”

– Freeman Patterson

“It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get.”

– Timothy Allen

“The mystery is not in the technique, but in each of us”

– Harry Callahan

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

– Jim Richardson

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

– Matt Hardy

“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

“If you keep your cool, you’ll get everything”

– Elliot Erwitt

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

– Gary Winogrand

“Our duty is to experiment”

– Alexander Rodchenko

 “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’d 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

“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

Interviewer: “Something must have made you want to be a photographer?” 
Bresson: “I don’t consider myself a photographer. I am using a camera. There are millions of photographers.”
Interviewer: So you see yourself simply as an artist?
Bresson: “I am just a human being. Everybody who is sensitive is an artist.”

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

“…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

“Anything can be photogenic, even a big chunk of raw tuna! But first you need to find your style, whatever it may be, I never thought I could photograph food because I don’t do studio shots, but I was glad to find out there’s room for many different styles.” 

– Carol Sachs

“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

Visual Composition… “Choosing how I want the viewer’s eye to travel in the picture”

– Nelson Shanks

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”

– Ansel Adams

“Photography has no rules, it is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved.”

– Bill Brandt

“The photo is a thing in itself. And that’s what still photography is all about.”

– Garry Winogrand

“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

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

– Alfred Eisenstaedt

“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

“a Photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into”

– Ansel Adams

“Try to make sure there are complementary colours in the picture; there is nothing worse and uninspiring than photographing just brown food. For instance yellow, red and green; or green, purple and brown; grey silver and yellow etc. But keep it simple.” 

– Joakim Blockstrom

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”

– Ernst Haas

“Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion… the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.”

– Dorothea Lange

“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

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

Bresson: Exactly!

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

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

– Dorothea Lange

“Once photography enters your bloodstream, it’s like a disease.”

– Anonymous

“Photographing a cake can be art”

Irving Penn

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph”

– Alfred Stieglitz

 “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.” 

– Robert Frank

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.”

– 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

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

– Winslow Homer

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

– Brigitte Bardot

“I think life is too short not to be doing something which you really believe in”

– Steve McCurry

“What’s really important is to simplify. The work of most photographers would be improved immensely if they could do one thing: get rid of the extraneous. If you strive for simplicity, you are more likely to reach the viewer. ”

William Albert Allard

“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

“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

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

– Michael O’Brien

“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”

– Diane Arbus

“In my photography, colour and composition are inseparable. I see in colour.”

– William Albert Allard

“These are the two basic controls at the photographer’s command–position and timing–all others are extensions, peripheral ones, compared to them”

– David Hurn

“Challenge yourself with projects shooting little food recipes or perhaps your favourite dish, from ingredients to the finished product. Style it with things you already have in your cupboard! It’s really the best exercise you can do that also comes with a steep learning curve and a chance to find your style in the comfort of your home. Plus, while it might be cold by the time you’re all done, you still get to eat it all!” 

– Shini Park

“The use of the term art medium is, to say the least, misleading, for it is the artist that creates a work of art not the medium. It is the artist in photography that gives form to content by a distillation of ideas, thought, experience, insight and understanding.”

– Edward Steichen

“…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

“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

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

– Elliot Erwitt

“When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in and white, you photograph their souls!”

– Ted Grant

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

– Ansel Adams

“A photograph of a woman crying tells me nothing about grief. Or a photograph of a woman ecstatic tells me nothing about ecstasy. What is the nature of these emotions? The problem with photography is that it only deals with appearances.”

– Duane Michals

“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

“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

“Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths.”

– Eddie Adams

“Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes realer than reality.” 

– Alfred Stieglitz

Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.” 

– Seth Godin

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

– Ansel Adams

“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

“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”

– Annie Leibovitz

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

– Edward Steichen

“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

“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

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

– Anonymous

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

– Ellen Von Unwerth

“Only photograph what you love.”

– Tim Walker

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”

– Imogen Cunningham

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

– Galen Rowell

“I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good.”

– Anonymous

“I never have taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.”

– Diane Arbus

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

– Matt Hardy

“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

“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

“The greatest photographs are made by artists who pickup the camera, rather than by photographers who decide to make art.”

– Stewart Harve

“If your pictures aren’t good enough you’re not close enough.”

– Robert Capa

“The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer”

– Gordon Parks

“The greatest photographs are made by artists who pickup the camera, rather than by photographers who decide to make art.”

– Stewart Harve

“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

“There’s a time when people say your work is revolutionary, but you have to keep being revolutionary. I can’t keep shooting pop stars all my life. You have to keep changing, keep pushing yourself, looking for the new, the unusual.”

– Rankin

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

– Eve Arnold

“Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.”

– Bruno Barbey

“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

“When you take a photo, you often take your own reality into your camera – the reality that you shaped in your mind – and not the real reality over there, whatever it is!”

– Mehmet Murat Ildan

“If I am dissatisfied, it’s simply because good photos are few and far between. A good photo is a miracle.”

– Josef Koudelka

“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

“Results are uncertain even among the more experienced photographers.”

– Matthew Brady

“Photography is a love affair with life.”

– Burk Uzzle

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

“Generally, the French highly promote culture and the arts, and photography is in their blood.”

– Herb Ritts

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

– Helmut Newton

“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”

– Oscar Wilde

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

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

“When I first became interested in photography, I thought it was the whole cheese. My idea was to have it recognized as one of the fine arts. Today I don’t give a hoot in hell about that. The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each man to himself.”

– Edward Steichen

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

– John Berger

“The camera captures light, our minds capture images.”

– Anonymous

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

– Anonymous

“There is no art which affords less opportunity to execute expression than photography. Everything is concentrated in a few seconds, when after perhaps an hours seeking, waiting, and hesitation, the photographer sees the realization of his inward vision, and in that moment he has one advantage over most arts – his medium is swift enough to record his momentary inspiration.”

– Sadakichi Hartmann

“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

”All photography is propaganda.” 

– Martin Parr


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

– Edward Weston

“Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.”

– Garry Winogrand

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

– Susan Sontag

“I do not object to retouching, dodging or accentuation as long as they do not interfere with the natural qualities of photographic technique.”

– Alfred Stieglitz

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

– Victor Skrebneski

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

– Minor White

“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

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as teaching people photography, other than influencing them a little. People have to be their own learners. They have to have a certain talent.”

– Imogen Cunningham

“If I am successful, the photograph reveals the underbelly, the overlooked and the underappreciated.”

– Tom Bari

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

– Ansel Adams

“Great photography is always on the edge of failure.”

– Garry Winogrand

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

– Roland Barthes

 “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 

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

– Anonymous


”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


 ”I don’t believe a person has a style. What people have is a way of photographing what is inside them. What is there comes out.”

– Sebastiao Salgado

”I guess I’ve shot about 40,000 negatives and of these I have about 800 pictures I like.”

– Harry Callahan

”With photography, I like to create fiction out of reality. I try and do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist.”

– Martin Parr

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

– Chase Jarvis

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

– Jason Eskenazi

“I found that the camera was a comforting companion. It opened up new worlds, and gave me access to people’s most intimate moments. I discovered the privilege of seeing life in all its complexity, the thrill of learning something new every day. When I was behind a camera, it was the only place in the world I wanted to be.”

– Lynsey Addario

“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

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