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Inspiration 20 Inspirational Street Photography Quotes

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We’ve gathered 20 inspirational quotes from street photography greats that we hope will help encourage you to get out and shoot!

─── by Elizabeth Kahn, September 26, 2023
  • Since the early twentieth century, photographers have sought to capture the oddities and intrigue of their surroundings, through candid, unposed imagery, which today, is widely known as  ‘Street Photography’. These 20 quotes, from some of the genre’s most iconic names, capture the unique charm of the genre, and we hope, will help provide inspiration and direction in your own photographic endeavors. 

    color street photo of people in Varanasi, India by Jonathan Jasberg
    “Shades Of Saffron” - Varanasi, India © Jonathan Jasberg

    1. “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” – Robert Doisneau

    2. Life is a farce, the skill is in showing it” – Richard Kalvar

    3. “I like discovery. I’m attracted to it. I like the feeling of going out, being at some place, looking in at something. Observation is important.” – Bruce Davidson

    4. “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

    Photo: “Shades Of Saffron” – Varanasi, India © Jonathan Jasberg

    black and white street photo of children in rain coats by Kevin Scarlett
    “Wind, Rain and Smiles.” - Fosse, Belgium © Kevin Scarlett

    5. “If you are truly successful in capturing the pulse of life, then you can speak of a good photograph.” – Rene Burri

    6. “You fill up the frame with feelings, energy, discovery, and risk, and leave room enough for someone else to get in there.” – Joel Meyerowitz

    7. “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” – Marc Riboud

    8. “I tend to photograph the things that get in front of my camera.” – Lee Friedlander

    Photo: “Wind, Rain and Smiles.” – Fosse, Belgium © Kevin Scarlett

    'In the clouds' In Paris, in Le Bassin Takis, a woman takes advantage of the misters. With the heat wave hitting the city, the need for fresh air is felt.
    "In the clouds" - Paris, France © Hervé Chatel

    9. “Taking pictures is like panning for gold. You do it again and again, and sometimes you find a nugget.” – Raghubir Singh

    10. “Sometimes I feel like the world is a place I bought a ticket to. It’s a big show for me as if it wouldn’t happen if I wasn’t there with a camera.” – Garry Winogrand

    11. “…out on the city streets, everything you encounter is alien and unknown. That’s what taking snapshot photographs of the city streets is: you’re capturing the alien and unknown.” – Daido Moriyama

    12. “If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.” – Jay Maisel

    Photo: “In the clouds” – Paris, France © Hervé Chatel


    Goat auctions in Nizwa, Oman, color photography by Maude Bardet
    “Goat Auctions in Nizwa” Oman © Maude Bardet - Winner Street Photography Award, September 2020

    13. “Photograph the world as it is. Nothing’s more interesting than reality.” – Mary Ellen Mark

    14. “I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heat of the known awaits just around the corner.” – Alex Webb

    15. “If you scrutinize reality closely enough, if in some way you really, really get to it, it becomes fantastic.” – Diane Arbus

    16. “I go out to take a walk, I see something, I take a picture. I take photographs. I have avoided profound explanations of what I do.” – Saul Leiter

    Photo: “Goat Auctions in Nizwa” Oman © Maude Bardet


    color street photo of kids in Dumaguete City, Philippines by Hersley-Ven Casero
    “Onion Kids” - Dumaguete City, Philippines © Hersley-Ven Casero

    17. “It’s the hardest thing in the world to take the mundane and try to show how special it is.” – Eve Arnold

    18. “That’s how I approach street photography: watching everything. If I think something might happen, then I will hang around. But most of the time I’m rushing from one corner of the city to another, just looking for stuff.” – Trent Parke

    19. “My ultimate goal is to try to make the ordinary look extraordinary.” – Martin Parr

    20. ‘There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

    Photo: “Onion Kids” – Dumaguete City, Philippines © Hersley-Ven Casero


    Looking for more motivational insights? – Check out our Top 50 inspirational quotes for photographers



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