Vladimir Karamazov

Inspiration The 100 Most Inspiring Photography Quotes

© Vladimir Karamazov

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” – Ansel Adams

─── by Edward Clay, April 11, 2023
  • In this article, we have curated a selection of the most inspiring quotes about photography of all time, from the most renowned practitioners in the medium’s history. As photographers, we can sometimes struggle with maintaining motivation and focus, or struggle to find inspiration. We hope that these quotes will provide the encouragement and impetus needed to continue on your photographic journey.

    color landscape photograph of a cliff in the sea at the Faroe Islands by Paul Lichte
    "Breakwater” - Faroe Islands © Paul Lichte

    1. “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” – Elliott Erwitt

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

    3. “All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
    Richard Avedon

    4. “For me, the subject of the picture is always more important than the picture.”
    – Diane Arbus

    5. “I can get obsessed by anything if I look at it long enough. That’s the curse of being a photographer” – Irving Penn

    6. “I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.”
    – Ellen Von Unwerth

    7. “If your pictures are not good enough you are not close enough.”
    – Robert Capa

    8. “Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.” – Sally Mann

    9. “Don’t pack up your camera until you’ve left the location.”
    – Joe McNally

    10. “There’s nothing more interesting than the landscape of the human face”
    – Irvin Kershner

    Visual Story Award - aerial color photo of floating boats in Bangladesh by Sujon Adhikary - The 100 Most Inspirational Photography Quotes
    “Floating Bed” – Dhaka, Bangladesh © Sujon Adhikary

    11.”There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
    – Ansel Adams

    12. “The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.”
    – Susan Sontag

    13. “It’s not how a photographer looks at the world that is important. It’s their intimate relationship with it.” – Antoine D’Agata

    14. “I’m mystified that anyone thinks liking color is a bad thing”
    – Saul Leiter

    15. “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.” – Annie Leibovitz

    16. “To photograph: it is to put on the same line of sight the head, the eye and the heart.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

    17. “To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.”
    – Edward Weston

    18. “Still images can be moving and moving images can be still. Both meet within soundscapes” – Chien-Chi Chang

    19. “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange

    20. “The photographer is filled with doubt. Nothing will soothe him.”
    – Raymond Depardon

    Portrait of two Nenets children, two little Nenets by Alessio Pannini
    “Tundra’s people" - Northern Arctic, Russia © Alessio Pannini

    21.“Emotion is really the only thing about pictures I find interesting. Beyond that it is just a trick.” – Christopher Anderson

    22. “I think good dreaming is what leads to good photographs.”
    – Wayne Miller

    23. “The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.”
    – Susan Meiselas

    24. “Better to live five minutes of happiness rather than an entire life in a conventional way.” – Guy Bourdin

    25. “A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”
    – Diane Arbus

    26. “By choosing a precise intersection between subject and time, WE may transform the ordinary into the extraordinary and the real into the surreal.” – Constantine Manos

    27. “In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” – Alfred Stieglitz

    28. “Photography helps people to see.”
    – Berenice Abbott

    29. “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!” – Ansel Adam

    30. “You’re as good as your last picture. One day you’re hero, the next day you’re a bum” – Weegee

    color street photography award of two boys shadow on a motorbike in Morocco by Costas Delhas - The 100 Most Inspirational Photography Quotes
    © Costas Delhas

    31.“I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.” – Ernst Haas

    32. “Photography, to me, is the dewdrop that reflects my inner and outer worlds simultaneously.” – Raghubir Singh

    33. “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” – Imogen Cunningham

    34. “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” – Andy Warhol

    35. “In photography, there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.”
    – August Sander

    36. “One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.” – Annie Leibovitz

    37. “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”
    – David Alan Harvey

    38. “Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lenses of the camera.” – Yousuf Karsh

    39. “Photography has no rules, it is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved.” – Bill Brandt

    40. “The best images are the ones that retain their strength and impact over the years, regardless of the number of times they are viewed.”
    – Anne Geddes

    black and white award landscape of Italian dolomites mountains by Thomas De Franzoni
    “Focus on the Fade” - Italy © Thomas De Franzoni

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

    42. “Looking and seeing are two different things. What matters is the relationship with the subject.” – Christophe Agou

    43. “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”
    – Lewis Hine

    44. “The instant of photographing, instead of creating distance, is a moment of clarity and emotional connection for me”
    – Nan Goldin 

    45. “Art is all about doing what you shouldn’t.”
    – Nobuyoshi Araki

    46. “As photographers, we are hired for our opinions to a certain extent. It will be a visual take, a very subjective interpretation”
    – Dan Winters

    47. “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” – Elliott Erwitt

    48. “All I can say about the work I try to do is that the aesthetic is in reality itself.”
    – Helen Levitt

    49. ‘I have a burning desire to see what things look like photographed by me’.
    – Garry Winogrand

    50. “The still must tease with the promise of a story the viewer of it itches to be told.” – Cindy Sherman

    Visual Story Award - color photo of pilgrims in a church in Bulgaria by Vladimir Karamazov
    "The power of faith” - Bulgaria © Vladimir Aleksandrov

    51. “Images can describe, abstract, interpret, but they are not absolute”
    – Carolyn Drake

    52. “I wanted to make pictures that felt natural, that felt like seeing, that didn’t feel like taking something in the world and making a piece of art out of it.”
     Stephen Shore

    53. “If I knew how to take a good photograph, I’d do it every time.”
    – Robert Doisneau

    54. “The viewer is yet another eye that is part of the compact that makes a photograph what it is.” – Alex Webb

    55. “Photography is about being patient. I’m quiet, I watch the situation. I let things happen and photograph them when they happen;”
    – Olivia Arthur

    56. “Photographs are a way of revealing hidden relationships that are only present for a moment in space and time.”
    – Robert Herman

    57. “Making any statement of your feelings is risky. It’s just like making pictures.”
     Joel Meyerowitz

    58. “In photography, like in all things, there are people who can see and others who cannot even look.”
    – Félix Nadar

    59. “A few words about the question of whether photography is art or not: I never understood the question.”
    – Ernst Haas

    60. “Photography, for me, is just the perfect excuse.”
    – Cristina De Middle

    color travel photo of men on wooden boat in Myanmar by Steve Taylor
    "Fishermen on a break” - Inle Lake, Myanmar © Steve Taylor

    61. “A photographer must choose a palette as painters choose theirs.”
    – Joel Sternfeld

    62. “I do what I feel, that’s all, I am an ordinary photographer working for his own pleasure. That’s all I’ve ever done.”
    – André Kertész

    63. “In reality, all we photographers photograph is ourselves in the other—all the time,” – Evelyn Hofer

    64. “I find it particularly exciting when a picture evokes anything near that word, ‘mystery’.” – Jeff Mermelstein

    65. “All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.”
    – Elliot Erwitt

    66. “With photography, I like to leave a lot of the story, even to myself”
    – Alex Prager

    67. “What would please me most is to make photographs as incomprehensible as life.” – William Klein

    68. “My photographs are a kind of tourism because it’s as if you’re traveling to Mali when you see them.”
    – Malick Sidibé

    69. “I never, ever went out without my camera, even to buy bread.”
    – Willy Ronis

    70. “Dig in, follow your instincts and trust your curiosity.”
    – Susan Meiselas

    conceptual studi black and white photograph of a horse
    "Dancing Fearless” © Jorg Karg

    71. “I would photograph an idea rather than an object, a dream rather than an idea.” – Man Ray

    72. “If you wait, people will forget your camera, and the soul will drift up into view.”
    – Steve McCurry

    73. “Utter truth is essential, and that is what stirs me when I look through the camera.” – Margaret Bourke-White

    74. “Photography is the language of humanity”
    – Reza

    75. “Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”
    – Alfred Stieglitz

    76. “I didn’t decide to be a photographer; I just happened to fall into it.”
    – Berenice Abbott

    77. “Whatever else a photograph may be about, it is always about time.”
    – Richard Misrach

    78. “The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer.”
    – Gordon Parks

    79. “Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.” – Bruno Barbey

    80. “Photography is a strange phenomenon… You trust your eye and cannot help but bare your soul.” – Inge Morath

    color film self portrait of a woman wearing towels by Foteini Zaglara
    “Rolling Boil” - Greece, 2021 © Foteini Zaglara

    81. “Life is a movie; death is a photograph.”
    – Susan Sontag

    82. “In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody.”
    – Henri Cartier-Bresson

    83. “In nature, light creates the color. In the picture, color creates the light.”
    – Hans Hofmann

    84. “Photography is the art of not pushing the button”
    – Frank Horvat

    85. “As soon as people see a camera, they change, and what you see you lose.”
    – Vivian Cherry⁠

    86. “A picture is the expression of an impression. If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?”
    – Ernst Haas

    87. “Good photography is unpretentious.”
    – Walker Evans

    88. “In a portrait, you always leave part of yourself behind.”
    – Mary Ellen Mark

    89. “The world makes up my pictures, not me.”
    – Lee Friedlander

    90. “I believe that the essence of photography is black and white. Color is but a deviance.” – Ruth Bernhard

    Black and white photograph, documentary, street, ganges river, india
    “Purification By Water” - India © Cristina Dimitrova

    91. “Photography is not something you retire from.”
    – Annie Leibovitz

    92. “Photography allows you to learn to look and see. You begin to see things you’d never paid attention to.”
    – Saul Leiter

    93. “I only ever take one picture of one thing. Literally. Never two.”
    – William Eggleston

    94. “Every photograph is an encounter, an intimate, reciprocal confession”
    – Paolo Roversi

    95. “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” – Diane Arbus

    96. “Ultimately photography is about who you are. It’s the truth in relation to yourself. And seeking truth becomes a habit.”
    – Leonard Freed

    97. “The unconscious obsession that we photographers have is that wherever we go we want to find the theme that we carry inside ourselves.”
    – Graciela Iturbide

    98. “I think of photography like therapy.”
    – Harry Gruyaert

    99. “Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye”
    – Dorothy Parker

    100. “A photograph has picked up a fact of life, and that fact will live forever”
    – Raghu Rai


    Looking for more inspirational photography quotes?

    – Check out our Top 20 inspirational quotes from street photography greats and our Top 20 most moving black-and-white photography quotes


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