30 Hiroshi Sugimoto Quotes on Conceptual Photography and Time

Looking for the best Hiroshi Sugimoto quotes? You’ve come to the right place. Below we have listed 30 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 Hiroshi Sugimoto master profile article to learn more about his unique conceptual photography, working methods, cameras and much more.

Hiroshi Sugimoto Quotes

Photography is like a found object. A photographer never makes an actual subject; they just steal the image from the world… Photography is a system of saving memories. It’s a time machine, in a way, to preserve the memory, to preserve time.

When people call me a photographer, I always feel like something of a charlatan – at least in Japanese. The word Shashin, for photograph, combines the characters sha, meaning to reflect or copy, and shin, meaning truth, hence the photographer seems to entertain grand delusions of portraying truth.

People have been reading photography as a true document, at the same time they are now getting suspicious. I am basically an honest person, so I let the camera capture whatever it captures whether you believe it or not is up to you; it’s not my responsibility, blame my camera, not me.

Photography is making a copy of reality, but when it is photographed twice it goes back to the reality again. That is my theory.

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Sugimoto Quotes on Art, Creativity and Ideas

I try to never be satisfied; this way I will always be challenging my spirit.

Art resides even in things with no artistic intentions.

When I wake up I just make it happen. My dreams come true- that is the artistic practice.

Art is technique: a means by which to materialize the invisible realm of the mind.

I didn’t want to be criticized for taking low-quality photographs, so I tried to reach the best, highest quality of photography, and then to combine this with a conceptual art practice. But thinking back, that was the wrong decision [laughs]. Developing a low-quality aesthetic is a sign of serious fine art – I still see this.

It was my goal to visualize the ancient layer of human memory with means of photography.

I imagine my vision then try to make it happen, just like painting, (…). The reality is there, but how to make it like my reality.

Black and White Photography Quotes

I live in the shadow… I like shadows, that’s why I became a black and white photographer.

Credibility is better in black and white than in color.

Quotes on Projects

If I already have a vision, my work is almost done. The rest is a technical problem.

My method is different from the one most photographers use. I do not go around and shoot. I usually have a specific vision, just by myself.

One night I thought of taking a photographic exposure of a film at a movie theater while the film was being projected. I imagined how it could be possible to shoot an entire movie with my camera. Then I had a clear vision that the movie screen would show up on the picture as a white rectangle. I thought it could look like a very brilliant white rectangle coming out from the screen, shining throughout the whole theater. It might seem very interesting and mysterious, even in some way religious.

Before the invention of movies was the invention of photography. To make a movie, you have to sew single-shot photographic images together to make it look like a movie. It is all an illusion to the human eye.

The stuffed animals positioned before painted backdrops looked utterly fake. Yet by taking a quick peek with one eye closed, all perspective vanished, and suddenly they looked very real. I’d found a way to see the world as a camera does. However fake the subject, once photographed, it’s as good as real.

Quotes on Seascapes

The sea reminds me that within my blood remains traces of human evolution over hundreds of thousands of years.

Whenever I stand on a cliff looking at the sea, I envision an infinite beyond. The horizon lies within bounds and the imagination stretches to infinity.

Humans have changed the landscape so much, but images of the sea could be shared with primordial people. I just project my imagination on to the viewer, even the first human being. I think first and then imagine some scenes. Then I go out and look for them. Or I re-create these images with my camera. I love photography because photography is the most believable medium. Painting can lie, but photography never lies: that is what people used to believe.

The Seascapes are before human beings and after human beings. The Seascapes were there before our presence, and when our civilization is over, seascapes will still exist. Our presence is temporary. Civilization is only 5,000 to 6,000 years. The history of ours, the material history of consciousness, is rather short.

Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.

Sugimoto on Capturing Time

To me photography functions as a fossilization of time.

Fossils work almost the same way as photography… as a record of history. The accumulation of time and history becomes a negative of the image. And this negative comes off, and the fossil is the positive side. This is the same as the action of photography.

A sense of time is a very important factor in early human consciousness. I’m going backward; people are going forwards. The gap between me and the world is getting bigger and bigger. But I don’t care. I just do what I want to do.

The Empire State Building on Manhattan island – it probably won’t survive for more than 200 or 300 years. The age expectation of concrete is probably 100, 200 years old. It will deteriorate. Through my collection, I get a sense of time, the passage of time, the history, the meaning of history. I just want to feel it through the object.

We need to have nature back in our atmosphere. There might be a turning point of going backward – within a few thousand years we are going back to the Stone Age! There are many scenarios [with] the robot technologies: Humans no longer need to walk; machines can produce products and food and everything. You might not be able to recognize what’s false and what is real.

I’m inviting the spirits into my photography. It’s an act of God.

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What’s your Favorite Hiroshi Sugimoto Quote?

Have a favorite Hiroshi Sugimoto 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 Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photography, we recommend reading our Hiroshi Sugimoto master profile article. To see more Sugimoto’s work, check out the image archive on his official 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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