24 Herb Ritts Quotes to Level Up Your Photography

Looking for the best Herb Ritts quotes? You’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find a list of 24 of his best quotes to inspire you and help take your photography to the next level.

If you haven’t done so already, we recommend reading our Herb Ritts master profile article to learn more about his incredible fashion and portrait photography, as well as his lighting technique, cameras and much more.

Herb Ritts Quotes

I like form and shape and strength in pictures.

Each time I did assignments or editorials, I realized that I wanted to do something more. I saw that it wasn’t just about the clothes.

The work with moving images is all part of the same proposition. The filmmaking can feed off the fine art photography; the fine art photography can nurture a commercial project.

To me it’s just going for the moment that counts. Sometimes, I’ll have all the elements there, and I like to play and push something, and to me, in the end, you do achieve things that you’re not aware of in the beginning, even though you’re there trying to get them.

I’m pretty selective. I generally edit the contact sheets and then do work prints. Because I have my own lab and printers, I can afford the luxury of going through the contact sheets for black-and-white, making up work prints, seeing them big, and honing them down.

Herb Ritts Quotes for Better Photography

I think a lot of the time these days people are so concerned about having the right camera and the right film and the right lenses and all the special effects that go along with it, even the computer, that they’re missing the key element. That element is developing a style that’s yours and experimenting with it until you eventually discover what makes sense to you.

You have to remember that the decisive moment is when you’re shooting. I’m not sure how it was in the past, but think, for example, of the moment when Cartier-Bresson captured that picture of the man bicycling in silhouette: That’s what he called the decisive moment, that’s the picture.

Feel your surroundings. Try and develop a style. Don’t get caught up in the technical side of things. Feel what is right in terms of light, subject, and composition. Dare to experiment, catch a moment.

You’re trying to get to one moment with one frame that eventually may speak for your generation.

Herb Ritts Quotes 1

Ritts on Lighting and Locations

Coming from California and growing up where I did, I’ve always had a fondness for and innate sensitivity to light, texture, and warmth.

Within two hours of where I live, you have mountains and desert as location. I like the natural elements that abstract into light, texture, shape and shadow

I abstract it in my photographs: I like large planes and spaces, areas of texture and light, like deserts or oceans or monumental places.

Herb Ritts Quotes on Portraits

I can have a given situation set up, but it’s catching that moment – allowing them to be themselves – and capturing something that’s special.

For me, a portrait is something from which you feel the person, their inner quality, what it is that makes them who they are. For instance, in the hand of the Dalai Lama donning his prayer beads in the window light; you feel his spirituality, his sense of presence.

The most interesting people to photograph are elderly. George Wallace, Bukowski, William Burroughs, Rauschenberg, Mandela. They’ve lived their lives. It’s all in their face, and it shows.

Today a lot of things are so celebrity-oriented; it’s only because it’s celebrity and the photograph is lost. To me it’s important to have an image that is a photograph first, not about necessarily who that person is.

Regardless of whether you speak the language or are familiar with a culture, the picture should hold up.

It’s not the celebrity quality of the person that makes the photograph interesting. It’s letting the true person through which makes the photograph interesting and lasting.

Learning the Craft Quotes

For me, the most important thing I learned was just honing my eye. I think I had a good eye.

I’d go down to the end of my street, to a garage that had a certain feeling about it, or a particular light; I’d take a picture of a friend who needed a head shot. That’s how I learned, instead of having school assignments and learning camera techniques.

I always enjoyed art history because, growing up in California, my exposure was limited, and it was a new experience. To learn the history of art opened up certain things to me, made me see. It intrigued me.

I exposed myself to museums. I suddenly saw, for instance, the vision of a Man Ray, discovered more and more the history of photography. It put things in perspective. But it was at least four years or more before I started feeling a sense of my own style.

To learn the history of art opened up certain things to me, made me see. It intrigued me.

Many people who excel are self-taught.

What’s your Favorite Herb Ritts Quote?

Have a favorite Herb Ritts 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. Also, don’t forget to share it with others through the usual channels (social media, forums, websites, etc).

If you would like to learn more about Ritts’ photography, we recommend reading our Herb Ritts master profile article. To see more of his remarkable portraits and fashion photos, check out the image archive on the Herb Ritts Foundation website.

Looking for more words of wisdom from master photographers? Check out 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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