14 Jane Bown Quotes on Portraits and Simplicity

Looking for the best Jane Bown quotes? You’ve come to the right place. Below we’ve compiled a list of 14 of Bown’s best quotes to inspire you and help take your portrait photography up a notch.

If you haven’t done so already, we recommend reading our Jane Bown master profile article to learn more about her black and white portraits, working methods, cameras and much more.

Jane Bown Quotes

The best pictures are uninvited. They are suddenly there in front of you. But they are there one minute and gone the next.

The last time I changed my camera was 50 years ago. All I need is a good face and the right light.

Color is too noisy. The eye doesn’t know where to rest.

I often feel that they [the subjects] were doing it, not me. I was just recognising what they were.

I was never really interested in people; that came later. I was always happiest moving about seeing things… still am.

I spent my whole life worrying about time and light. If I had time it was something, but if I had light it was even better.

I just looked at the light on the back of my hand and judged it that way.

Time is a major constraint and I consider myself lucky if I get a quarter of an hour. The people I’m sent to photograph are often celebrities, politicians, or successful business people, with many demands on their time. I usually work in tandem with a writer and… I have to fit the photography session around the interview.

I’d be sent with a writer and had to take my photographs quickly so they could get on with the interview. In a typical month I might do Dennis Hopper at the Savoy, Woody Allen at the Dorchester, and a senior politician at his home. Each time, I’d have 10 minutes. So I would march straight in and take over the situation. I had a quick mind. I could suss it all out immediately.

I had to tell Robin Williams to stop being funny. He was playing games. I said, ‘You’ll have to stop. We don’t have time for that.’ He did – though I found out later he mimicked me after I left.

[On photographing Francis Bacon] He looked good in his studio, among his paints and jars, but in black and white I knew the image would be confusing. Then he got up to show me to the door and say goodbye – he was a very nice man – and there it was: marvellous light. That was the last picture I took of him: a second bite at the cherry.

I had just had my eightieth birthday and I said jokingly to the review, lets ring up and see if the Queen would be photographed by another eighty year old. And they rang, and I was horrified, I was even more horrified the next day when they rang back from Buckingham Palace and said “the Queen would be delighted.” So that made me a little nervous.

She was very sweet actually. I did have a sort of preview the day before, and I was shown exactly where she would be, and I chose the chair she could sit in, in font of a nice window, with just the right light. I was really worried that next day, it might not be the same… it was. The light was beautiful, and she did as she was told. She likes photography. She asked, ‘how many films have you taken?’ I said ‘two’ and she said, ‘would you like to take another one?’ I said, ‘yes please.’

I often see the photograph immediately… but sometimes I have to work at it… it’s often the first or the last shot.

The best pictures are uninvited, they’re suddenly there in front of you… easy to see but difficult to catch. Some people take pictures, I find them.

Jane Bown Quotes
Jane Bown Quotes 1

What’s your Favorite Jane Bown Quote?

Have a favorite Jane Bown 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).

To learn more about Bown’s photography, we recommend reading our Jane Bown master profile article. To see more of her photography work, check out the Bown image archive on the Guardian 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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