PetaPixel 111 Inspirational Quotes for Photographers in 2021


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A photography quote by photographer Robert Adams


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But I wonder, what else do “they” say? In order to find out I’ve culled together the best quotes on the subject of photography. I hope they inspire you.

  1. “If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough.”
    Robert Capa
  2. “Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
    Destin Sparks
  3. “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
    Ansel Adams
  4. “In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
    Alfred Stieglitz
  5. “There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.”
    Robert Frank
  6. “Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.”
    Anonymous
  7. “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
  8. “When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.”
    Alfred Eisenstaedt

    An illustration with a photography quote by Alfred Eisenstaedt

    Photograph by Jennifer Trovato
  9. “We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”
    Ralph Hattersley
  10. “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”
    Annie Leibovitz
  11. “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.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson
  12. “You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it.”
    Unknown
  13. “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
  14. “If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph.”
    Ansel Adams
  15. “A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”
    Edward Steichen
  16. “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
  17. “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
    Andy Warhol
  18. “Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”
    Diane Arbus
  19. “What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are time and light.”
    John Berger

    An illustration with a photography quote by John Berger
  20. “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
  21. “The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.”
    Scott Lorenzo
  22. “If the photographer is interested in the people in front of his lens, and if he is compassionate, it’s already a lot. The instrument is not the camera but the photographer.”
    Eve Arnold
  23. “A tear contains an ocean. A photographer is aware of the tiny moments in a persons life that reveal greater truths.”
    Anonymous
  24. “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
    Dorothea Lange
  25. “Essentially what photography is is life lit up.”
    Sam Abell
  26. “I don’t trust words. I trust pictures.”
    Gilles Peress
  27. “It is my intention to present – through the medium of photography – intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators.”
    Ansel Adams
  28. “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
    Diane Arbus
  29. “Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.”
    Sally Mann

    An illustration with a photography quote by Sally Mann
  30. “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
    Marc Riboud
  31. “It’s more important for a photographer to have very good shoes, than to have a very good camera.”
    Sebastiao Salgado
  32. “Once you learn to care, you can record images with your mind or on film. There is no difference between the two.”
    Anonymous
  33. “Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.”
    Ambrose Bierce
  34. “Every artist has a central story to tell, and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.”
    Gregory Crewdson
  35. “Photography is truth.”
    Jean-Luc Godard
  36. “Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the photo as a judgment that the photograph is good.”
    Garry Winogrand
  37. “Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.”
    Berenice Abbott
  38. “The pictures are there, and you just take them.”
    Robert Capa
  39. “Photography has nothing to do with cameras.”
    Lucas Gentry

    An illustration with a photography quote by Lucas Gentry
  40. “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
  41. “If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.”
    Linda McCartney
  42. “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
    Ansel Adams
  43. “Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true.”
    Jacques-Henri Lartigue
  44. “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
    Diane Arbus
  45. “A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”
    Eudora Welty
  46. “If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.”
    Jay Maisel
  47. “It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson
  48. “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.”
    Elliott Erwitt
  49. “It’s not the photographer who makes the picture, but the person being photographed.”
    Sebastiao Salgado
  50. “Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.”
    William Klein
  51. “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
  52. “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
    Dorothea Lange

    An illustration with a photography quote by Dorothea Lange
  53. “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
    Karl Lagerfeld
  54. “No place is boring, if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.”
    Robert Adams
  55. “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.”
    Irving Penn
  56. “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
  57. “To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.”
    Edward Weston
  58. “Since I’m inarticulate, I express myself with images.”
    Helen Levitt
  59. “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
    Matt Hardy
  60. “Photography is pretty simple stuff. You just react to what you see, and take many, many pictures.”
    Elliott Erwitt
  61. “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
    Ansel Adams
  62. “When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.”
    Anonymous
  63. “Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work.”
    Martin Parr
  64. “I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of place could be photographed.”
    Annie Leibovitz
  65. “I never have taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.”
    Diane Arbus
  66. “All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
    Richard Avedon
  67. “Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”
    Susan Sontag
  68. “I suspect it is for one’s self-interest that one looks at one’s surroundings and one’s self. This search is personally born and is indeed my reason and motive for making photographs.”
    Lee Friedlander
  69. “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.”
    Robert Frank
  70. “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
  71. “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

    An illustration with a photography quote by Joan Miro
  72. “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
  73. “I think good dreaming is what leads to good photographs.”
    Wayne Miller
  74. “Photography is a medium in which if you don’t do it then, very often you don’t do it at all, because it doesn’t happen twice.”
    Paul Strand
  75. “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
  76. “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”
    Jim Richardson
  77. “One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.”
    Dorothea Lange
  78. “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely every hundredth of a second.”
    Marc Riboud
  79. “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.”
    Annie Leibovitz
  80. “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.”
    Steve McCurry
  81. “Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.”
    Yousuf Karsh
  82. “The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?”
    Edward Weston
  83. “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
  84. “Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.”
    W. Eugene Smith
  85. “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.”
    Susan Meiselas
  86. “Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure.”
    Tony Benn
  87. “Your first 10000 photographs are your worst.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson

    An illustration with a photography quote by Henri Cartier-Bresson
  88. “Photography is an austere and blazing poetry of the real.”
    Ansel Adams
  89. “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”
    Alfred Eisenstaedt
  90. “I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.”
    Ellen Von Unwerth
  91. “Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.”
    Andre Kertesz
  92. “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”
    Chase Jarvis
  93. “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”
    Ted Grant
  94. “Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”
    Peter Adams
  95. “Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”
    Unknown
  96. “Only photograph what you love.”
    Tim Walker
  97. “Photographers stop photographing subjects too soon before they have exhausted the possibilities.”
    Dorothea Lange
  98. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
    Ansel Adams
  99. “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”
    Lewis Hine

    An illustration with a photography quote by Lewis Hine
  100. “In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.”
    August Sander
  101. “Photography is a love affair with life.”
    Burk Uzzle
  102. “The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.”
    Susan Sontag
  103. “When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”
    Wynn Bullock
  104. “Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.”
    Yousuf Karsh
  105. “It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours.”
    James Lalropui Keivom
  106. “If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no shortcuts in photography.”
    Edward Weston
  107. “The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.”
    Orson Welles
  108. “Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.”
    Anonymous
  109. “The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score and the print the performance.”
    Ansel Adams
  110. “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”
    Imogen Cunningham
  111. “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

About the author: Tammy Jean Lamoureux is a photographer, artist & gypsy based out of Brooklyn, NY and Boston, MA. You can see more of her work on her website.

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