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
“In-between” - Marrakech, Morocco © 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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