The 100 Greatest Photography Quotes By Famous Photographers

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Looking for the best photography quotes? In this article, we’ve put together a list of 100 of the greatest photography quotes from famous photographers.

From advice on what makes a good photograph to tips for staying motivated, you are sure to find plenty of photography inspiration in these words of wisdom from the best in the business.

So without further ado, here are 100 of the greatest photography quotes from the masters of the craft.

The Most Famous Photography Quotes

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

2. “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” – Ansel Adams

3. “If your pictures are not good enough you are not close enough.” – Robert Capa

4. “Today everything exists to end in a photograph.” – Susan Sontag

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

7. “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

8. “Kodak sells film, but they don’t advertise film; they advertise memories.” – Theodore Levitt

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

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

11. “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” – Ansel Adams 

12. “All photographs are accurate, none of them is the truth.” – Richard Avedon

13. “If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no shortcuts in photography.” – Edward Weston 

15. “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson 

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

17. “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” – Jim Richardson 

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

19. “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.” – Garry Winogrand

20. “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” – Ansel Adams

80 More Inspirational Photography Quotes

21. “Like all photographers, I depend on serendipity… I pray for what might be referred to as the angel of chance.” – Sally Mann

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

23. “The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.” – Susan Sontag 

24. “I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.” – Nan Goldin

Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.  

Sally Mann

26. “Photography is a marvelous discovery, a science that has attracted the greatest intellects, and art that excites the most astute minds – and one that can be practiced by any imbecile.” – Nadar

27. “Photography is the easiest art, which perhaps makes it the hardest.” – Lisette Model

28. “The personality of the photographer, his approach, is really more important than his technical genius.” – Lee Miller 

Helmut Newton Quotes Voyuer

30. “The pictures are there, and you just take them.” – Robert Capa 

31. “My ultimate goal is to try to make the ordinary look extraordinary.” – Martin Parr

Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.

Ansel Adams

Defining Photography

33. “The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each to himself. And that is the most complicated thing on earth.” – Edward Steichen

34. “It’s akin to hunting, photography is. In the same way, you’re using a machine and you’re actually shooting something and you’re shooting to kill. You get the picture you want – that’s a kill. That’s a bull’s-eye.” – Walker Evans

If you don’t have anything to say, your photographs aren’t going to say much.

Gordon Parks

36. “What matters is making pictures that make people feel and react to them.” Fer Juaristi

37. “Photography is all about secrets. The secrets we all have and will never tell.” – Kim Edwards 

38. “Photography’s 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent moving furniture.” – Gregory Heisler

To me photography must suggest, not insist or explain.

Brassai

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

41. “The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer.” – Steven Pinker 

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

Photography Quotes, Bill Brandt

Camera and Equipment

44. “There’s an illusion that the camera doesn’t lie, when the whole skill of photography is making it lie the way you want it to lie.” – Terence Donovan

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

46. “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

For me, the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

48. “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

49. “Having a camera makes you no more a photographer than having a hammer and some nails makes you a carpenter.” – Claude Adams

50. “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!” – Ansel Adams 

Related: Quote Series: Photography Equipment Quotes

51. “For me, this is one of the advantages of not using digital, I never know when I have a good photograph! I practice doubt as a way to push myself into alternative compositions by selective focus, different speeds of exposure, and unusual perspectives.” – Michael Kenna

The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.

Susan Sontag

53. “Amateur photographers have got a problem because they’ve got no reason to take a picture. They’re kind of equipment junkies. When you look at a picture that Cartier-Bresson took on a 50mm…” – Terence Donovan

54. “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

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

Don McCullin Quote

The Photograph

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

58. “A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.” – Ansel Adams

59. “My photos are like stories that have no beginning, no middle and no end.” – Helmut Newton

60. “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 

61. “Everyone will take one great picture. I’ve done better because I’ve taken two.” – David Bailey

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

64. “A photograph is worth a thousand words, provided it is accompanied by only ten words.” Edward Steichen

People like Polaroids, because they’re unique. There are no negatives. You’ve got it once and no more. That’s the charm and fascination about Polaroids – that they can’t be duplicated.

Helmut Newton

66. It’s not the decisive moment. It’s not the beginning or end. It’s the middle. It’s more like a question. Robert Frank

67. “A good photograph can never be repeated.” – Harry Benson

68. “A single photograph contains different images.” – Daido Moriyama

69. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” – Ansel Adams

Related: Quote Series: What Makes a Good Photograph?

70. “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.” – Joan Miro

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

photography quotes, parkinson

Finding your Subject 

73. “The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer.” – Gordon Parks

74. “I realize more and more what it takes to be a really good photographer. You go in over your head, not just up to your neck.” – Dorothea Lange

75. “Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand.” – Margaret Bourke-White

76. “Many photographers live in a dream world of beautiful backgrounds. It wouldn’t hurt them to get a taste of reality to wake them up.” – Weegee

Annie Leibovitz Quote

78. “I often think of what I photograph as a soap opera, where I am waiting for the right cast to fall into place.” – Martin Parr

79. “When you look into your camera, if you see an image you have ever seen before, don’t click the shutter.” – Alexey Brodovitch 

80. “Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer, it is my task to reveal it if I can.” – Yousuf Karsh

I tend to think of the act of photographing, generally speaking, as an adventure. My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.  

Diane Arbus

The Photography Process

82. “I didn’t write the rules. Why should I follow them?” – W. Eugene Smith

83. “There are two parts to the process: taking the picture and finding ways of using it.” Martin Parr

84. “I work it out very carefully, and then I do something that looks as if it went wrong.” – Helmut Newton

Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.

David Alan Harvey

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

87. “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.” – Robert Frank

88. “Stop trying to get it right. Just take the picture.” – Sally Mann

89. “No matter what lens you use, no matter what speed the film, no matter how you develop it, no matter how you print it, you cannot say more than you can see.” – Paul Strand

90. “Every photograph is a battle of form versus content. The good ones are on the border of failure.” – Garry Winogrand

To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

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

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

94. “The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.” – Ansel Adams

Photography Quotes, Mary Ellen
Looking for Light

96. “You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either.” – Galen Rowell

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

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

99. “A photographer is like a painter. Instead of a canvas, he uses film… instead of brushes he uses a lens… and instead of paint, he uses light.” – Weegee

100. “What’s the point in getting killed if you’ve got the wrong exposure.” – Don McCullin

Have a favorite photography quote?

Do you have a favorite quote from the list above? Do you know any other quotes that should be considered for our 100 greatest photography quotes list? Let us know in the comment sections below.

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If you’re still looking for more words of wisdom from master photographers, then check out some more of our quote articles. Below are a few of our most popular photography quote articles to get you started:

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Founder of Photogpedia.com. Photography enthusiast, occasional filmmaker, part-time writer and full-time dreamer. Rediscovered photography in 2012 and have been trying to level up my photography skills since (I'm getting there) #chasingthecreative

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