This collection of 169 photography quotes from renowned photographers such as Ansel Adams, Robert Capa, Paul Strand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Steve McCurry, and others provides insight into the art of photography and its power to capture emotion and feelings. The quotes emphasize the importance of having something meaningful to say about the world, the significance of the photographer's role in creating a powerful image, and the need to keep practicing and learning in order to become a better photographer.
This list of quotes continually gets updated over time. Please contact us with any more quotes you might have!
- A good photograph is knowing where to stand.
- The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.
- There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.
- The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score and the print the performance.
- You don't take a photograph, you make it.
- A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.
- Photography is an austere and blazing poetry of the real.
- There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
- Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.
- Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment.
- It is my intention to present - through the medium of photography - intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators.
- Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.
- If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough.
- Did I express my personality? I think that's quite unimportant because it's not people's selves but what they have to say about life that's important.
- The important thing is, you have to have something important to say about the world.
- Every artist I suppose has a sense of what they think has been the importance of their work. But to ask them to define it is not really a fair question. My real answer would be, the answer is on the wall.
- Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees.
- It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.
- Actually, I'm not all that interested in the subject of photography. Once the picture is in the box, I'm not all that interested in what happens next. Hunters, after all, aren't cooks.
- In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little, human detail can become a Leitmotiv.
- Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
- Photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.
- To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.
- Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.
- I think life is too short not to be doing something which you really believe in.
- You don't take a photograph. You ask, quietly, to borrow it.
- A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.
- I began to realize that the camera sees the world differently than the human eye and that sometimes those differences can make a photograph more powerful than what you actually observed.
- Buying a Nikon doesn't make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner.
- A photograph is like a recipe memory the finished dish.
- The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.
- The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.
- The more you photograph, the more you realize what can and what can't be photographed. You just have to keep doing it.
- When you photograph a face . . .you photograph the soul behind it.
- The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.
- If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug around a camera.
- Kodak sells film, but they don't advertise film; they advertise memories.
- The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?
- Photography has no rules, it is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved.
- Photography is the art of frozen time... the ability to store emotion and feelings within a frame.
- Results are uncertain even among the more experienced photographers.
- Photography is the recording of strangeness and beauty with beguiling precision.
- Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.
- Photography is the dominant and fascinating and only folk art of the twentieth century.
- Photography is (a means by which we)...learn to see the ordinary.
- Photography is a contest between a photographer and the presumptions of approximate and habitual seeing. The contest can be held anywhere ...
- Photography is a strong tool, a propaganda device, and a weapon for the defense of the environment...and therefore for the fostering of a healthy human race and even very likely for its survival.
- There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.
- I threw myself into this artform because photography had given me a new sense of mission and identity.
- Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be.
- Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.
- This isn't a real quote, it's just here to see if how often people re-purpose this list.
- Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.
- Visual ideas combined with technology combined with personal interpretation equals photography. Each must hold it's own; if it doesn't, the thing collapses.
- In the world of photography, you get to share a captured moment with other people.
- Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true.
- 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.
- Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.
- Photography does not create eternity, as art does; it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption.
- Photography must be integrated with the story.
- The beauty of women was the first expression of my photography.
- Few speeches which have produced an electrical effect on an audience can bear the colourless photography of a printed record.
- In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.
- My own eyes are no more than scouts on a preliminary search, or the camera's eye may entirely change my idea.
- Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence.
- Which of the photographs is my favorite? The one I'm going to take tomorrow.
- I do not object to retouching, dodging or accentuation as long as they do not interfere with the natural qualities of photographic technique.
- There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.
- Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.
- Photography is truth.
- When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.
- It is always the instantaneous reaction to oneself that produces a photograph.
- The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer
- Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.
- At 42, I decided to become a photographer because it offered a means of creative thought and action. I didn't rationalize this, I just felt it intuitively and followed my intuition, which I have never regretted.
- I've never made any picture, good or bad, without paying for it in emotional turmoil.
- Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.
- Art is the highest task and the proper metaphysical activity of this life.
- Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.
- Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
- Computer photography won't be photography as we know it. I think photography will always be chemical.
- I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting.
- I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do - that was one of my favourite things about it, and when I first did it, I felt very perverse.
- 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.
- Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.
- People don't have time to wait for somebody to paint their portraits anymore. The money is in photography.
- For me the printing process is part of the magic of photography. It's that magic that can be exciting, disappointing, rewarding and frustrating all in the same few moments in the darkroom.
- With photography, you zero in; you put a lot of energy into short moments, and then you go on to the next thing.
- But slowly I began to use cameras and then think about what it was that was going on. It took me a long time, I mean I actually played with cameras and photography for about 20 years.
- In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.
- I went into photography because it seemed like the perfect vehicle for commenting on the madness of today's existence.
- What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.
- I treat the photograph as a work of great complexity in which you can find drama. Add to that a careful composition of landscapes, live photography, the right music and interviews with people, and it becomes a style.
- Photography helps people to see.
- A lot of people think that when you have grand scenery, such as you have in Yosemite, that photography must be easy.
- Photography is a way of putting distance between myself and the work which sometimes helps me to see more clearly what it is that I have made.
- I don't need the money I generate from photography to support myself.
- And friends of mine that had photography class in high school would develop the film and make prints and I'd take them back to the track and give 'em away or try and sell them. Much to my parents' dismay, I majored in photography in college.
- He was a very generous soul and was exceptionally dedicated to the medium of photography.
- I make photographs and still make photographs of the natural environment. It's a love because that was part of my life before I was involved in photography.
- I took a workshop from him a few months after that. That experience changed my whole approach to photography. At that workshop in Yosemite in 1973 I decided I wanted to try and see if I could pursue this for myself, and I'm still trying.
- In 1979, I received a phone call from Ansel Adams asking me if I would be willing to consider coming to work for him. I was teaching photography in Southern California at that point.
- So when I became interested in photography and further being inspired by the work that I saw of Ansel and others, it was a natural extension to go back to these places that I knew as a kid and explore them with my camera.
- 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.
- My main camera is a Nikon D3. I use a French camera from the 1800s for wet plate photography, I use a Hasselblad sometimes. But to me the camera really doesn't matter that much. I don't have a preference for film or digital.
- 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.
- I have no fear of photography as long as it cannot be used in heaven and in hell.
- The clue to book jacket photography is to look friendly and approachable, but not too glamorous.
- Photography suits the temper of this age - of active bodies and minds. It is a perfect medium for one whose mind is teeming with ideas, imagery, for a prolific worker who would be slowed down by painting or sculpting, for one who sees quickly and acts decisively, accurately.
- Does not the very word 'creative' mean to build, to initiate, to give out, to act - rather than to be acted upon, to be subjective? Living photography is positive in its approach, it sings a song of life - not death.
- I think landscape photography in general is somewhat undervalued.
- There is no question that photography has played a major role in the environmental movement.
- Ever since the 1860s when photographers travelled the American West and brought photographs of scenic wonders back to the people on the East Coast of America we have had a North American tradition of landscape photography used for the environment.
- Of course I realize that photography is not the technical facility as much as it is the eye, and this decision that one makes for the moment at which you are going to snap, you know.
- Now, when I came on to Washington to begin my job, I was so interested in photography at that time that I really would have preferred to work with Stryker than with my department, which was more artistic if you wish.
- Now, my knowledge of photography was terribly limited.
- I loved photography and everybody said it was a crazy thing to do because in those days nobody made it into the film business. I mean, unless you were related to somebody there was no way in.
- Photography, alone of the arts, seems perfected to serve the desire humans have for a moment - this very moment - to stay.
- The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each to himself. And that is the most complicated thing on earth.
- 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.
- 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.
- Generally, the French highly promote culture and the arts, and photography is in their blood.
- Traditionally, photography is supposed to capture an event that has passed; but that is not what I'm looking for. Photography brings the past into the present when you look at it.
- While I was there I became deeply interested in photography, and indeed the most noteworthy event in my early life was winning first, third, fourth and seventh prizes in an international competition for college and high school students.
- Photography started as a means of getting reference material for my paintings of nature subjects.
- Big game photography in Africa is mainly done from a vehicle, so then I feel I might as well take the lot.
- 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.
- Photography to the amateur is recreation, to the professional it is work, and hard work too, no matter how pleasurable it my be.
- Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.
- Once the amateur's naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.
- When you live by the sea, there are definite seasons when you can see the weather coming and going, which lends itself to photography.
- 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.
- What it all boils down to for me is having the enthusiasm to do something for enjoyment and being stimulated by what's around you. That's what photography does for me.
- Look at lots of exhibitions and books, and don't get hung up on cameras and technical things. Photography is about images.
- Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.
- Moreover, photography has made it possible to fix these images and now provides us with a permanent record of each observed spectrum, which can be measured out at any time.
- People think because it's photography it's not worth as much, and because it's a woman artist, you're still not getting as much - there's still definitely that happening. I'm still really competitive when it comes to, I guess, the male painters and male artists. I still think that's really unfair.
- Photography is a major force in explaining man to man.
- 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.
- Photography has been a passion of mine since I was 15. After my kids were born I found myself incorporating my photography into different art endeavours and from there it just blossomed.
- After my kids were born I found myself incorporating my photography into different art endeavours and from there it just blossomed. I have always had to have an outlet for my creativity and when my life became more about raising my family than the bright lights of show business exploring my photo art was a great outlet for me.
- 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.
- Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure.
- I am very much aware of the visual side of things. I do a lot of photography. I often take Polaroids of things that strike me as visually interesting, just to remember them and perhaps use later.
- Photography can never grow up if it imitates some other medium. It has to walk alone; it has to be itself.
- Photography is still a very new medium and everything must be tried and dare.
- In my photography, color and composition are inseparable. I see in color.
- The arts equally have distinct departments, and unless photography has its own possibilities of expression, separate from those of the other arts, it is merely a process, not an art.
- 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.
- Photography is, in essence, the art of capturing light using a device that doesn't very well support it.
- It doesn't matter if you're photographing a porter in a market in Marrakech or you're photographing the king of Morocco. You have the same sympathetic approach to everybody. You be nice to everybody, basically.
- A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.
- If I am successful, the photograph reveals the underbelly, the overlooked and the under appreciated.
- Fortune favours those who work the hardest.
- A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.
- Photography is a love affair with life.
- 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.
- Photography is the story I fail to put into words.
- A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective.
- Photography is a way of making other people see the world my way.
- The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.
- The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.
- I'm not interested in shooting new things – I'm interested to see things new.
- Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed.
- The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don't belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.
- I don’t trust words. I trust pictures.
- I want to make photographs that are like false memories.
- Photography is a language more universal than words.
- I think of photography like therapy - it's a way of understanding who you are and what's around you.
Sir John Rothenstein
James Wong Howe
W. Eugene Smith
Graeme Le Saux
Graeme Le Saux
Graeme Le Saux
W. Eugene Smith
William Albert Allard