28 Inspiring Alfred Stieglitz Quotes: For the Love of Photography

Looking for the best Alfred Stieglitz quotes? Then you’ve come to the right place. Alfred Stieglitz was a pioneering early photographer and one of the most important figures in the development of photography as a modern art during the 20th century.

Below we’ve put together a list of 26 quotes from the great Steiglitz to inspire, motivate and help take your photography to the next level.

Alfred Stieglitz Quotes

Photography my passion, the search for truth, my obsession.

My photographs are a picture of the chaos in the world, and of my relationship to that chaos. My prints show the world’s constant upsetting of man’s equilibrium, and his eternal battle to reestablish it.

If you can imagine photography in the guise of a woman and you’d ask her what she thought of Stieglitz, she’d say: He always treated me like a gentleman.

In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.

Every photograph has an equivalent idea or emotion attached to it.

Wherever there is light, one can photograph.

In order to obtain pictures by means of the hand camera it is well to choose your subject, regardless of figures, and carefully study the lines and lighting. After having determined upon these watch the passing figures and await the moment in which everything is in balance; that is, satisfied your eye. This often means hours of patient waiting. My picture, “Fifth Avenue, Winter” is the result of a three hours’ stand during a fierce snow-storm on February 22nd 1893, awaiting the proper moment. My patience was duly rewarded. Of course, the result contained an element of chance, as I might have stood there for hours without succeeding in getting the desired pictures.

The great geniuses are those who have kept their childlike spirit and have added to it breadth of vision and experience.

Alfred Stieglitz Quotes 1

The Camera and Keeping it Simple

The camera was waiting for me by predestination and I took to it as a musician takes to the piano or a painter to canvas. I found that I was master of the elements, that I could work miracles.

For that is the power of the camera: seize the familiar and give it new meanings, a special significance by the mark of a personality.

The writer does not approve of complicated mechanisms, as they are sure to get out of order at important moments, thus causing considerable unnecessary swearing, and often the loss of a precious opportunity. My own camera is of the simplest pattern and has never left me in the lurch, although it has had some very tough handling…

A shutter working at a speed of one-fourth to one-twenty-fifth of a second will answer all purposes. A little blur in a moving subject will often aid to giving the impression of action and motion.

Aflred Stieglitz Quotes on Art

There are many schools of painting. Why should there not be many schools of photographic art? There is hardly a right and a wrong in these matters, but there is truth, and that should form the basis of all works of art.

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.

It is not art in the professionalized sense about which I care, but that which is created sacredly, as a result of a deep inner experience, with all of oneself, and that becomes ‘art’ in time.

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

I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing.

… the goal of art was the vital expression of self.

The Steerage, Stieglitz
The Steerage. 1907 © Alfred Stieglitz Estate

Passion and Love of Photography

Photography fascinated me, first as a toy, then as a passion, then as an obsession.

I have all but killed myself for Photography. My passion for it is greater than ever. It’s forty years that I have fought its fight – and I’ll fight to the finish – single handed and without money if need be. It is not photographs – it is not photographers – I am fighting for. And my own photographs I never sign. I am not fighting to make a ‘name’ for myself. Maybe you have some feeling for what the fight is for. It’s a world’s fight. This sounds mad. But so is Camera Work mad. All that’s born of spirit seems mad in these [days] of materialism run riot.

When I photograph I make love.

My ideal is to achieve the ability to produce numberless prints from each negative, prints all significantly alive, yet indistinguishably alike, and to be able to circulate them at a price not higher than that of a popular magazine, or even a daily paper. To gain that ability there has been no choice but to follow the road I have chosen.

Photographers must learn not to be ashamed to have their photographs look like photographs

Photography my passion, the search for truth, my obsession.

Alfred Stieglitz Quotes 2

Photography that Matters

His [Strand] vision is potential. His work is pure. It does not rely on tricks of process. In the history of photography there are but few photographers, who from the point of view of expression, have really done work of any importance. And by importance we mean work that has some relatively lasting quality, that element which gives all art itself real signifiance.

My photographs look like photographs and in [the] eyes [of pictorial photographers] they therefore can’t be art… My aim is increasingly to make my photographs look so much like photographs [rather than paintings, etchings, etc.] that unless one has eyes and sees, they won’t be seen – and still everyone will never forget having once looked at them.

… [only] evidence of individuality and artistic worth… will find recognition in there pages.

Let me here call attention to one of the most universally popular mistakes that have to do with photography – that of classing supposedly excellent work as professional, and using the term amateur to convey the idea of immature productions and to excuse atrociously poor photographs. As a matter of fact nearly all the greatest work is being, and has always been done, by those who are following photography for the love of it, and not merely for financial reasons. As the name implies, an amateur is one who works for love; and viewed in this light the incorrectness of the popular classification is readily apparent.

What’s your Favorite Alfred Stieglitz Quote?

Have a favorite Alfred Stieglitz quote from the list? Let us know in the comment section below.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page, or print it out, and refer to it next time you need some inspiration. If you’ve found the article helpful, then we would be grateful if you could share it with other photographers.

To see more of Alfred Stieglitz’s incredible photography, check out his image archive on the Museum of Modern Art website.

Looking for more words of wisdom from master photographers? Visit the quotes section of Photogpedia for more great photography quotes.

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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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