Quote Series: 150+ Portrait Photography Quotes

If you’re looking to take your portraits to the next level or you’re simply interested in the techniques and mindset of master portrait photographers, then this article is for you.

Below you’ll find over 150 of the best portrait photography quotes that will help you up your game the next time you do a portrait sitting for a client, friend, or family member.

Editor note: This article is constantly being updated, so remember to bookmark the page and keep checking back for more portrait photography inspiration and lessons from master photographers.

What Is Portrait Photography?

In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

A portrait isn’t a fact but an opinion – an occasion rather than a truth.

Richard Avedon

Really good portraiture is a two-way street where someone is throwing little gems out and you’re grabbing them. Very few people have a 100 percent fluency in being able to do this… this kind of magical reaction with a camera.

Albert Watson

A true imoportrait should, today and a hundred years from today, the Testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.

Philippe Halsman

There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.

Robert Frank

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. Frequently, 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.

Herb Ritts

When a portrait evokes a feeling, then you’ve got something. Technique isn’t really important. What I want is a believable moment.

Bert Stern

A good portrait ought to tell something of the subject’s past and suggest something of his future.

Bill Brandt

A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he’s being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks. He’s implicated in what’s happened, and he has a certain real power over the result.

Richard Avedon
Malcolm X by Richard Avedon
Malcolm X, New York City, March 1963 © The Richard Avedon Foundation

The Role of the Portrait Photographer

To see people as they are, as they imagine themselves, as they wish to be. To be witness, the friend, the judge, the accomplice. To record their moment.

Annie Leibovitz

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

It should be the aim of every photographer to make a single exposure that shows everything about the subject. I have been told that my portrait of Churchill is an example of this.

Yousuf Karsh

The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. It’s a question mark you put on somebody. Trying to say, “Who is it? What does it amount to? What is the significance of that face?” The difference between a portrait and a snapshot is that in the portrait, the person has agreed to be photographed.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse, and entertain.

Helmut Newton

My idea was that if I took a picture of somebody and years later, or whenever, they would die and if someone wanted to know who this person was, they could take one of these pictures and it would tell who the person was.

David LaChapelle

When I take a black-and-white portrait, it’s not particularly meant to please you. It’s meant to talk to you; it’s meant to shame you. It’s meant to scream out at you, and it has a message.

Don McCullin

If you take a picture of a human that does not make him noble, there is no reason to take this picture. That is my way of seeing things.

Sebastiao Salgado

A portrait photographer depends upon another person to complete his picture. The subject imagined, which in a sense is me, must be discovered in someone else willing to take part in a fiction he can’t possibly know about. My concerns are not his. We have separate ambitions for the image. His need to plead his case probably goes as deep as my need to plead mine, but the control is with me.

Richard Avedon

I try to make people look as good as they’d like to look, and with luck a shade better. If I photograph a woman then my job is to make her as beautiful as it is possible for her to be. If I photograph a gnarled old man, then I must make him as interesting as a gnarled old man can be.

Norman Parkinson

I feel more and more, that it is about photographing this “magic space”, situated between the photographer and the subject he’s photographing and not about the “architecture” of faces.

Peter Lindbergh

To me, The goal is to move people, to make people think, but never, never at the expense of the person you’re photographing. To laugh with, yes – but never to laugh at.

Lord Snowdon

The portrait photographers that we tend to idolize have a great sense of design and compassion. I think the marriage of compassion and design is really what makes, in my opinion, a really wonderful moment.

Mark Seliger

When I have had such men before my camera my whole soul has endeavored to do its duty towards them in recording faithfully the greatness of the inner as well as the features of the outer man. The photograph thus taken has been almost the embodiment of a prayer.

Julia Margaret Cameron

How to Capture Great Portraits

… success in photography, portraits especially, is dependent on being able to grasp those supreme instants which pass with the ticking of a clock, never to be duplicated – so light, balance – expression must be seen – felt as it were – in a flash, the mechanics and technique being so perfected in one as to be absolutely automatic.

Edward Weston

My photography is more subtraction than addition. I always try to take off things. We all have a sort of mask of expression. You say goodbye, you smile, you are scared. I try to take all these masks away and little by little subtract until you have something pure left. A kind of abandon, a kind of absence. It looks like an absence, but in fact, when there is this emptiness I think the interior beauty comes out. This is my technique. Or at least it’s what I think my technique is!

Paolo Roversi

I am interested in photographing the person as bare as possible. This means that I do not want to arrive at the shoot with a concept or with an idea. I don’t want to put people into special situations, ask them to do specific things, or act a certain way. I try to do with a minimum of hair, make-up, and styling – or with none at all. Also, I put people in a very neutral place in terms of the décor. If I can I will use a neutral backdrop or a simple wall. I often prefer working with daylight.

Brigitte Lacombe

It’s all so simple – no one believes me … you strike a pose, then you light it. Then you clown around and get some action in the expressions. Then, you shoot.

George Hurrell
Katherine Hepburn © George Hurrell Estate

Finding your Photograph

I think I’m sort of a reader – I used to love handwriting analysis. But that’s nothing compared to reading a face. I think if I had decided to go into the fortune-telling business, I would have probably been very good. What happens to me in work – I look for something in a face, and I look for contradiction, complexity. Something’s that are contradictory and yet connected.

Richard Avedon

I think that everyone is closer to themselves when exposed to the feeling of melancholy; something more poetic takes place as you are giving up control of yourself and expose deeper feelings and emotions to the man with the camera in front of you. The space between the photographer and his subject, this is what you photograph. It is not the outside bone structure of the face you photograph; it is the invisible part of the subject you capture if he or she is willing to give it to you.

Peter Lindbergh

Laughter has zero value for me in portraits or my other photographs, there’s so much to see in faces that are not laughing. When someone’s laughing that’s all you see and that ruins the rest. Photographing someone laughing has no appeal to me, fine if they laugh but for a portrait, I need all those manifold beautiful layers, which is obscured by that thing people call laughter.

Peter Lindbergh

Irving Penn said he didn’t want to photograph anyone under 60, and I think there is some truth about it.

Annie Leibovitz

To this question, “What people do you like to photograph?” my answer is “Those I love, those I admire, and those I hate.

Helmut Newton

I sort of fall in love with them when I’m photographing them – men and women.

David Bailey

A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.

Annie Leibovitz

The Moment of Truth

When one sees the residuum of greatness before one’s camera, one must recognize it in a flash. There is a brief moment when all that there is in a man’s mind and soul and spirit may be reflected through his eyes, his hands, his attitude. This is the moment to record. This is the elusive “moment of truth.”

Yousuf Karsh

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.

Herb Ritts

It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.

Paul Caponigro

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

Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.

Yousuf Karsh

The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity, the photographer must act or lose his prize.

Yousuf Karsh

The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

You can’t get at the thing itself, the real nature of the sitter, by stripping away the surface. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface. All that you can do is manipulate that surface – gesture, costume, expression – radically and correctly.

Richard Avedon

It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.

Paul Strand

According to Balzac’s theory, all physical bodies are made up entirely of layers of ghostlike images, an infinite number of leaf-like skins laid on top of one another. Since Balzac believed man was incapable of making something material from an apparition—that is, creating something from nothing—he concluded that every time someone had his photograph taken, one of the spectral layers was removed from the body and transferred to the photograph. Repeated exposures entailed the unavoidable loss of subsequent ghostly layers, that is, the very essence of life.


I have problems taking portraits in color because color reacts differently to the light. With black-and-white, you get the feeling of transcending the skin, until, if you’re lucky, you might see a tiny bit of something, what could be the soul of that person, right in front of your camera. Color seems to stop the transcending process right at the skin’s surface. However strange this might sound to you, it is very real to me.

Peter Lindbergh

Most of my photos are grounded in people, I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face.

Steve McCurry
Afghan Girl, Peshawar, Pakistan, 1984 © Steve McCurry

Know your Subject

He [Yousef Karsh] thoroughly researches his subject, knows his wife’s name, or man’s hobby, and uses this information to the hilt. He’s the ultimate flatterer.

Elliott Erwitt

When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.

Annie Leibovitz

Like the people you shoot and let them know it.

Robert Capa

It doesn’t matter if you’re photographing a porter in a market in Marrakech or you’re photographing the king of Morocco. You have the same sympathetic approach to everybody. You be nice to everybody, basically.

Albert Watson

I think that the photographer’s best weapon is their own personality. I love to meet people and to spend time chatting with them before I start to make photographs. It puts them at ease and it gives me clues to their personalities.

Albert Watson

As soon as you engage someone, their face changes. They become animated. They forget about being photographed. Their minds become occupied and they look more interesting. But I’m so busy looking, I can’t talk. I never developed that gift.

Annie Leibovitz

Collaborative Process

A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.

Edward Steichen

The camera has no opinion, no emotion, it just renders — and so the emotional components of a photograph live on each side of the camera.

Norman Jean Roy

Remember that the person you are photographing is 50% of the portrait and you are the other 50%. You need the model as much as he or she needs you. If they don’t want to help you, it will be a very dull picture.

Lord Patrick Lichfield

A portrait is never the person. What is captured, I think, is your relationship with the person.

Peter Lindbergh

I seek what lies beneath surface beauty. What interests me are intimate human complexities – the darkness as well as the light. I cannot will this kind of transcendent communication into existence. I have to be open and truly present, and if I am lucky, grace descends. My best photographs are an honest collaboration, and when the viewer also connects, I feel the circle is complete.

Joyce Tennyson

My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. But whenever I become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, I feel I’ve lost what’s really there…been seduced by someone else’s standard of beauty or by the sitter’s own idea of the best in him. That’s not usually the best. So each sitting becomes a contest.

Richard Avedon

Contrary to common belief, it is impossible to make a representative photograph of someone. A human in all its complexity cannot be represented by a single image. This is absolutely naive and misleading. You can photograph what appears in a magic space you have to create between sitter and photographer.

Peter Lindbergh
Sharon Stone by Peter Lindbergh 1995 Harper's Bazaar
Sharon Stone, November 1995 for Harpers Bazaar © Peter Lindbergh Estate

Trust and Rapport

The picture is not made by the photographer, the picture is more good or less good in function of the relationship that you have with the people you photograph.

Sebastiao Salgado

If I create anything, I create the atmosphere of trust and openness.

Sante D’Orazio

People feel good in front of the camera only when you learn to help them feel comfortable being there! It is about infusing them with your passion and educating them about how much they will enjoy the process.

David Beckstead

Making friends is second nature to me. I like photographing people at their best. This means making them feel relaxed and completely at home with you from the beginning.

Alfred Eisenstaedt

A portrait can go wrong because the sitter doesn’t let himself go. Even a tiny gesture, a light relaxation, a very small movement can lead a sitting in the right direction. A good portrait is the rapport that is established between two people, there has to be someone in front of the camera and someone behind it.

Jeanloup Sieff

It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.

Alfred Eisenstaedt

The portrait I do best is of the person I know best.


When you find yourself beginning to feel a bond between yourself and the people you photograph when you laugh and cry with their laughter and tears, you will know you are on the right track.


Everyone asks me how I get my subjects to open up to me. There’s no formula to it. It’s just a matter of who you are and how you talk to people – of being yourself. Your subjects will trust you only if you’re confident about what you’re doing. They can sense that immediately. I’m really bothered by photographers who first approach a subject without a camera, try to establish a personal relationship, and only then get out their cameras. It’s deceptive. I think you should just show up with a camera, to make your intentions clear. People will either accept you or they won’t.

Mary Ellen Mark

Related: What Makes a Good Photograph Quotes

The Truth

There is no truth in photography. There is no truth about anyone’s person. My portraits are much more about me than they are about the people I photograph. I used to think that it was a collaboration, that it was something that happened as a result of what the subject wanted to project and what the photographer wanted to photograph. I no longer think it is that at all.

Richard Avedon

A book was once published of twenty photographs by twenty photographers, of the same model. They were as different as twenty paintings of the same model. Which was proof, once and for all, of the flexibility of the camera and its validity as an instrument of expression. There are many paintings and buildings that are not works of art. It is the man behind whatever instrument who determines the work of art.

Man Ray

In a portrait, you always leave part of yourself behind.

Mary Ellen Mark

A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.

Richard Avedon

Sometimes I enjoy just photographing the surface because I think it can be as revealing as going to the heart of the matter.

Annie Leibovitz

A portrait must get beyond the almost universal self-consciousness that people have before the camera. If at some moment of reality… did not happen, you had to provoke it in order to… awaken a genuine response.

Edward Steichen

Nothing is more hateful to me than photography coated with gimmicks, poses, and false effects. Therefore let me speak the truth in all honesty about our age and the people of our age.

August Sander

I believe that everyone wears a mask, and beneath that mask is another mask. So what photographers can reveal are the various masks we all wear.

Matthew Rolston

I like to photograph people who have strength and dignity in their faces; whatever life has done to them, it hasn’t destroyed them. I gravitate towards people like that.

Paul Strand

And he said, “I hate that picture. It doesn’t look like me.” Well, for a very smart man to think that a picture is supposed to look like him… would you go to Modigliani and say, “I want it to look like me?”

Richard Avedon

The endless fascination of these people for me lies in what I call their inward power. It is part of the elusive secret that hides in everyone, and it has been my life’s work to try to capture it on film.

Yousuf Karsh
Yousuf Karsh Churchill
Winston Churchill, 1941 © National Archives of Canada/Yousuf Karsh Estate


Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.

Yousuf Karsh

Think about the photo before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You mustn’t go too fast. The subject must forget about you.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

I’m not a great one for chatting people up, because it’s phony. I don’t want people to feel at ease. You want a bit of edge. There are quite long, agonized silences. I love it. Something strange might happen. I mean, taking photographs is a very nasty thing to do. It’s very cruel.

Lord Snowdon

If you wait, people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up into view.

Steve McCurry

What I do in all my portraits is to try to stay out of it. I try to catch people the way they are.

Mark Carder

Photographers stop photographing a subject too soon before they have exhausted the possibilities.

Dorothea Lange

Composition and Framing

Coming tight was boring to me, just the face… it didn’t have enough information.

Annie Leibovitz

In a photograph a person’s eyes tell much, sometimes they tell all.

Alfred Eisenstaedt

A photographic close-up is perhaps the purest form of portraiture, creating a confrontation between the viewer and the subject that daily interaction makes it impossible, or at least impolite.

Martin Schoeller

When shooting a story about someone, their hands should always be on your list to shoot.

Joe McNally

I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.

Ellen von Unwerth

I always prefer photographing in available light – or Rembrandt-light I like to call it – so you get the natural modulations of the face. It makes a more alive, real, and flattering portrait.

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Portrait Photography Quotes on Location

I always take portraits in my sitter’s own surroundings. I concentrate very much on the picture as a whole and leave the sitter rather to himself. I hardly talk and barely look at him.

Bill Brandt

I always prefer to work in the studio. It isolates people from their environment. They become in a sense… symbolic of themselves.

Richard Avedon

I like to take pictures of people in their environment – the animal in its habitat. It is fascinating coming into people’s homes, looking at them. But you have to be like a cat. Not disturb. On tiptoes, always on tiptoes. It’s like a biologist and his microscope. When you study the thing, it doesn’t react the same way as when it is not being studied. And you have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt, which is not an easy thing.

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound, Venice 1971 © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

Creative Portraits

I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.

Cindy Sherman

In a portrait, you have room to have a point of view and to be conceptual with a picture. The image may not be literally what’s going on, but it’s representative.

Annie Leibovitz

When I first started making portraits for magazines, I realized my images were going to be competing against giant headlines, so I decided to make my pictures into logos – very bold, and very declaratory. I also wanted to create a stark, even unforgiving realism with my lighting. My ambition is to show more truth in my images than viewers are comfortable with. I think the secret of making a good portrait is to go into it being brutally honest.


If you’re shooting Bruce Springsteen for Rolling Stone, it would be a different picture than shooting Bruce Springsteen for TIME or Fortune. There’s no reason those pictures should all be the same. One story might be talking about his latest release, another might be about his fortune, another might be about how he stays fit. Those are all different images, and that to me is what makes it interesting—trying to figure out how to tailor the image specifically for that person. There’s no reason you’d shoot Mother Theresa and Newt Gingrich the same way.

Gregory Heisler

Keeping it Simple

I’ve worked out of a series of no’s. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these no’s force me to the “yes.” I have a white background. I have the person I’m interested in and the thing that happens between us.

Richard Avedon

In my portraits, I try to avoid the fleeting expression and vivacity of a snapshot.

Bill Brandt

Technique undoubtedly helps make photography magical, but I prefer to work with atmosphere. I think that the obsession with technique is a male thing. Boy’s toys. They love playing… but once you’ve perfected something you have to start searching for a new toy. I would rather search for a new model or location.

Ellen von Unwerth

I don’t see anybody as either ordinary or extraordinary. I see them simply as people in front of my lens.

Eve Arnold

Black and White Portraits

On black and white portraits, the skin has a different shine. It is as if the light is passing through the skin, whereas with the color, it remains on the surface. I also find black and white to be more intense.

Peter Lindbergh

Black-and-white is king. King of kings. Color is commercial. You do it to please clients. You do it to make money. If you want emotion, I think you can’t beat black-and-white.  It works well with my style. It gets down to the essential very quickly but color brings in a lot of questions so you have to be better prepared. Color is wonderful when you need to show information. Sometimes too much information is not good. Sometimes it’s better not to reveal too much.

Max Vadukul

It’s hard to say when I developed a passion for black-and-white photographs. I think that in photographing models, or whatever, what interests me most is the face, the personality. I’ve often shot the same person in the same setup with a roll of color and a roll of black and white. Then I look at the results. Black and white just brings out the personality more.

Peter Lindbergh

When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!

Ted Grant

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

Jane Bown
Björk, Jane Bown, 1995
Björk, 1995 © The Jane Bown Estate / National Portrait Gallery, London

The Importance of Portraits

The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.

Andy Warhol

The thing that’s fascinating about portraiture is that nobody is alike.

Imogen Cunningham

My chief joy is to photograph the great in heart, in mind, and in spirit, whether they be famous or humble.

Yousuf Karsh

I never made a person look bad. They do that themselves. The portrait is your mirror. It’s you.

August Sander

The mind and soul of the personality before my camera that interests me most. The greater the mind and soul, the greater my interest.

Yousuf Karsh

I like taking photographs because I like life. And I like photographing people best of all, because most of all I love humanity.

Horst P. Horst

Business Portrait Photography Quotes

Beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder.

Dean Collins

It seems dangerous to be a portrait artist who does commissions for clients because everyone wants to be flattered, so they pose in such a way that there’s nothing left of truth.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

When someone says to you, ‘Oh, I don’t take a good picture,’ what they mean is they haven’t come to terms with how they look. They take a fine picture, it’s just that their image of how they think they look is not in touch with the reality.

Martin Parr

I am not necessarily interested in the secret of a person. The fact that there are qualities a subject doesn’t want me to observe is an interesting fact. Interesting enough for a portrait. It then becomes a portrait of someone who doesn’t want something to show. That is interesting.

Richard Avedon

Just showing positive, expected images of beauty and airbrushing away the conditions that make us human seems like a deception to me.

Nadav Kander

[On why most people don’t like getting their pictures taken] When someone rings up and says they want their portrait taken I duck it.

When a woman looks in the mirror, she knows how to shape her face, she knows how to get the light soft. If you stop and look at yourself, you wonder why anything ever happens because we all think we look revolting but what we see in the mirror is a frozen image – in real life, it’s all an animation and movement and other people don’t see us as being grotesque as we do. So the ordinary public who are not used to being photographed have an image that doesn’t relate to what they look like at all and they don’t like being photographed, they don’t like the results.

Even models, you show them the pictures and they still wince, they may look very confident but… I don’t think anybody likes terribly what they look like.

Terence Donovan

Clients love pictures where they’re laughing versus just smiling. That’s because there’s emotion behind it. Because you’re capturing energy, not just a still image.

Jen Rozenbaum

So many people dislike themselves so thoroughly that they never see any reproduction of themselves that suits. None of us is born with the right face. It’s a tough job being a portrait photographer.

Imogen Cunningham

Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is the one they would like to show the world…. Very often what lies behind the façade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.

Irving Penn

I’m pretty used to people not liking having their picture taken. I mean, if you do like to have your picture taken, I worry about you.

Annie Leibovitz

​Portrait Quotes from Painters and Writers

Photography freed painting from a lot of tiresome chores, starting with family portraits.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.

Susan Sontag

To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder – a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.

Susan Sontag, On Photography

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

There is nothing worth knowing about portrait painting – literally nothing – that cannot be learned by sitting patiently in front of a painting by Velazquez.

Samuel Edmund Oppenheim

Life etches itself onto our faces as we grow older, showing our violence, excesses, or kindnesses.


I would sooner paint people’s eyes than cathedrals, for there is something in the eyes that is lacking in a cathedral – however solemn and impressive it may be. To my mind, a man’s soul, be it that of a poor beggar or of a streetwalker, is more interesting.

Vincent van Gogh

There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

Vincent Van Gogh

What a joy it is to capture the likeness of another human being. It has been said that the eyes are the window through which we glimpse the soul. That’s my favorite thing to paint – souls!

Ann Manry Kenyon

When you photography a face… you photograph the soul behind it.

Jean-Luc Godard
Marilyn Monroe Portrait
Marilyn Monroe, 1956. © Elliott Erwitt/Magnum

Seeing likeness in a portrait is to recognize the craftsman in the artist. Finding soul is to discover the artist in the craftsman.

Bernard Poulin

There are only two styles of portrait painting: the serious and the smirk.

Charles Dickens

Velazquez found the perfect balance between the ideal illustration which he was required to produce, and the overwhelming emotion he aroused in the spectator.

Francis Bacon

The reason some portraits don’t look true to life is that some people make no effort to resemble their pictures.

Salvador Dalí

I have painted many portraits of people and I have painted many portraits of trees. Trees are more tranquil to work with, never demanding, never complaining their portrait doesn’t look right.


Confound the nose, there’s no end to it!

Thomas Gainsborough

Listen: if I am a painter and I do your portrait, have I or haven’t I the right to paint you as I want?

Oriana Fallaci

When I paint a person, his enemies always find the portrait a good likeness.

Edvard Munch

Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend.

John Singer Sargent

– said while being asked by the woman to do some ‘improvements’ here and there… Madam, I am a painter, not a plastic surgeon.

Alan Wylie

I paint people not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.

Lucian Freud

There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.

Abraham Lincoln

I’ve had photographs taken for portraits because I much prefer working from the photographs than from models… I couldn’t attempt to do a portrait from photographs of somebody I didn’t know…

Francis Bacon

When I paint a portrait I want to know more than just the looks of the person. I want to know how they live and what their feelings are… It then becomes more than just physiognomy, but the feel of the person.

Jamie Wyeth

The portrait is one of the most curious art forms. It demands special qualities in the artist and an almost total kinship with the model.

Henri Matisse

In a sense, every work you do is a self-portrait because your paintings always reveal more about you than about your subject. Your experience of something, not the something itself, is the true underlying subject of every work you do.

Richard Schmid

The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner in the emotional process.

Malcolm Gladwell

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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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