Photography Tips

Best 105 Quotes by Famous Photographers for Inspiration16 min read

July 21, 2020 11 min read
Leighton Emmons

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Best 105 Quotes by Famous Photographers for Inspiration16 min read

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Whether it be a means of capturing a moment, a means of discovering one’s self, a means of portraying the very heart, mind and soul of someone else in a photograph – why photography exists and why it matters varies depending who you ask.

Nonetheless, the photographers who have been photographing the longest undoubtedly have fascinating outlooks and insights into photography as an art form.

We’ve compiled here some of the most famous, thought-provoking, and impassioned quotes about photography. We hope these quotes provide you with inspiration, affirmation, or even guidance on why photography is amazing.

We also went ahead and organized them by common theme, in case there was a specific inspiration you were looking for. Enjoy.

Photography as an art: #1-10

Improving your photography: #11-20

Photography as your passion: #21-30

Photography as capturing the moment: #31-40

Enlightenment by photography: #41-50

Purpose of photography: #51-60

What photography is: #61-70

Photography for pleasure: #71-80

Thought-provoking quotes: #81-90

Photography as your life’s mission: #91-100

Photography reminders: #101-105


Photography as storytelling: 1-10

Photography inspiration quote with:  “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”
– Lewis Hine

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”
Lewis Hine

“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
Destin Sparks

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

“Every artist has a central story to tell, and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures”
Gregory Crewdson

“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
― Susan Sontag

“My pictures are about making people realize we’ve got to protect those who can’t speak for themselves.”
 Michael “Nick” Nichols

“When a photo of a person looks deep into your spirit and tells you a thousand stories….. Stories from your past even before you existed, then the photo is way above any description.”
Sameh Elsayed

“I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.”
— James Nachtwey

“If a picture is good, it tells many different stories.”
— Josef Koudelka

“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

Improving your photography: 11-20

Photography inspiration quote with:  “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson

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

“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.”
Alfred Eisenstaedt

“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

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

“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

“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

“Start with a style and you are in chains, start with an idea and you are free.” — Richard Avedon

“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

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

“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

“The formula for doing a good job in photography is to think like a poet.”
Imogen Cunningham

Photography as your passion: 21-30

Photography inspiration quote with:  “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”
– Annie Leibovitz

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

“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

“The golden rule in the arts, as far as I am concerned, is that all rules are meant to be broken.”
Michael Kenna

“I didn’t choose photography, photography chose me.”
— Gerardo Suter

“My interest in photography is not to capture an image I see or even have in my mind, but to explore the potential of moments I can only begin to imagine.” — Lois Greenfield

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

“One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and on. It’s on all the time.”
— Annie Leibovitz

“If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.”
— Richard Avedon

We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”
– Ralph Hattersley

Photography is an itch that won’t go away. No matter how much you scratch it.
– Dara McGrath

Photography as capturing the moment: 31-40

Photography inspiration quote with:  “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
– Dorothea Lange

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
Dorothea Lange

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
Andy Warhol

“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

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

“If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.”
Linda McCartney

“Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true.” — Jacques-Henri Lartigue

“To me, the magic of photography, per se, is that you can capture an instant of a second that couldn’t exist before and couldn’t exist after. It’s almost like a cowboy that draws his gun. You draw a second before or after, you miss and you’re dead – not them. To me, photography’s always like that.”
— Mario Testin

“Only photography has been able to divide human life into a series of moments, each of them has the value of a complete existence.”
– Eadweard Muybridge

A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”
– Eudora Welty

“My love of photography is melded with the ability to capture what I want to remember in the moment I want to never forget.”
– Devin Dygert

Enlightenment by photography: 41-50

Photography inspiration quote with: “When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”
– Wynn Bullock

“When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”
Wynn Bullock

“You photograph with all your ideology.”
Sebastiao Salgado

“Photography has nothing to do with cameras.”
Lucas Gentry

“I love this life. I feel like I am always catching my breath and saying, ‘Oh! Will you look at that?’ Photography has been my way of bearing witness to the joy I find in seeing the extraordinary in ordinary life. You don’t look for pictures. Your pictures are looking for you.”
Harold Feinstein

“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

“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

“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

“Fear is the thing that prohibits a lot of photographers from reaching their full potential.” 
Collin Pierson

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

“Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.”
Yousuf Karsh

Purpose of photography: 51-60

Photography inspiration quote with: “We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”
– Ralph Hattersley

“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”
Ralph Hattersley

“I try with my pictures to raise a question, to provoke a debate, so that we can discuss problems together and come up with solutions.”
Sebastiao Salgado

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.”
Elliott Erwitt

“Photography is the recording of strangeness and beauty with beguiling precision.”
Sebastian Smee

“Photography is a means by which we learn to see the ordinary.”
David Bailey

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

“The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.”
Orson Welles

“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.”
Andy Goldsworthy

“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

“I think that emotional content is an image’s most important element, regardless of the photographic technique. Much of the work I see these days lacks the emotional impact to draw a reaction from viewers, or remain in their hearts.”
Anne Geddes

What photography is: 61-70

Photography inspiration quote with: “Photography is a major force in explaining man to man.”
– Edward Steichen

“Photography is a major force in explaining man to man.”
Edward Steichen

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting 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

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

“Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees.”
Paul Strand

“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”
Peter Adams

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
Dorothea Lange

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.”
Ambrose Bierce

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
Marc Riboud

“It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. 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

Photography for pleasure: 71-80

Photography inspiration quote with: “Whosoever possesses a camera should never know boredom.”
- Wayne Gerard Trotman

Whosoever possesses a camera should never know boredom.”
– Wayne Gerard Trotman

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

“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

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

“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

“No place is boring if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and a pocket full of unexposed film.”
— Robert Adams

“Photography is a love affair with life.”
Burk Uzzle

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

“I fell in love with the process of taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.”
Alec Soth

“There will be times when you will be in the field without a camera. And, you will see the most glorious sunset or the most beautiful scene that you have ever witnessed. Don’t be bitter because you can’t record it. Sit down, drink it in, and enjoy it for what it is!”
DeGriff

Thought provoking quotes: 81-90

Photography inspiration quote with: “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
– Diane Arbus

“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
Diane Arbus

“Photography is an austere and blazing poetry of the real.”
Ansel Adams

“Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be.”
Duane Michals

“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
Richard Avedon

“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

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

“The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.”
Scott Lorenzo

“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 photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
Alfred Stieglitz

“How do we start taking pictures of people, and stop taking pictures of poses?”
Justin and Mary Marantz

Photography as your life’s mission: 91-100

Photography inspiration quote with: “Above all, life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference.” 
― Robert Frank

“Above all, life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference.”
― Robert Frank

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

“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.”
Steve McCurry

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

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
Ansel Adams

“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

“Photography gives you the opportunity to use your sensibility and everything you are to say something about and be part of the world around you. In this way, you might discover who you are, and with a little luck, you might discover something much larger than yourself.”
— Peter Lindbergh

The camera has always been a guide, and it’s allowed me to see things and focus on things that may be an average person wouldn’t even notice.”
– Don Chadwick

“The photographer does the world a great disservice when he leaves his camera at home.”
Mark Denman

“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

Photography reminders: 101-105

Photography inspiration quote with: “When you photograph a face . . .you photograph the soul behind it.”
– Jean-Luc Godard

“When you photograph a face . . .you photograph the soul behind it.”
Jean-Luc Godard

“There is one thing the photograph must contain – the humanity of the moment.”
Robert Frank

“It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.”
— Paul Strand

“The desire to discover, the desire to move, to capture the flavor, three concepts that describe the art of photography.”
— Helmut Newton

“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


Written by Leighton Emmons

Featured photograph by Salahuddin Ahmed

Quote images provided by Unsplash

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