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A Compilation Of 101 Photography Quotes That Inspire

Last updated on Jul 18, 2022 by [email protected]

A photograph could be many things – a token of reflection, a memoir to treasure, or something to hold on to. More often than not, an image can speak to you in multiple ways. And while the emotion an image evokes in us is oftentimes hard to put in a few words, many photographers and eminent personalities have for years penned their thoughts on what photography means to them and deftly expressed how every image has a unique story to tell! And in this blog, we have made a compilation of all those quotable quotes – from inspiring and quirky lines to thought-provoking words of wisdom. So if you are on the lookout for some witty one-liners or inspirational quotes on photography to better understand a photographer’s point of view as they look for fascinating stories and befitting backdrops to tell those stories, this compilation of photography quotes could be an interesting read for you.

Inspirational Photography Quotes

A quote painted on a black wall

The photography industry is huge! And over time, multiple professional photographers have contributed to the industry in a way that, time and again, people not only reflect on their incredible photographs but also their words of wisdom and inspiration. Here’s a collection of some inspiring quotes that could give you something to reflect on.

  1. “Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.” – Sally Mann
  2. “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” – Ansel Adams
  3. “What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are time and light.” – John Berger
  4. “When the world asks, “what was it like?” Only the photographers can say, “See!” – Mark Denman
  5. “A camera is a SAVE button for the mind’s eye.” – Roger Kingston
  6. “Photography is not about cameras, gadgets, and gizmos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.” – Peter Adams
  7. “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at the picture for a second and think of it all your life.” – Joan Miro
  8. “Photography was the first available demonstration that light could indeed exert an action sufficient to cause changes in material bodies.” – Henry Fox Talbot
  9. “Photography is the story I fail to put into words.” – Destin Sparks
  10. “There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” – Robert Frank
  11. “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.” – Robert Frank
  12. “Photography is austere and blazing poetry of the real.” – Ansel Adams
  13. “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” – Andy Warhol
  14. “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” – Marc Riboud
  15. “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
  16. “Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.” – Andre Kertesz
  17. “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
  18. “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt
  19. “I love this life. I feel like I am always catching my breath and saying, ‘Oh! Will you look at that?’ Photography has been my way of bearing witness to the joy I find in seeing the extraordinary in ordinary life. You don’t look for pictures. Your pictures are looking for you.” – Harold Feinstein
  20. “Fear is the thing that prohibits a lot of photographers from reaching their full potential.” – Collin Pierson
  21. “There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.”– Robert Heinecken
  22. “Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.” – Yousuf Karsh
  23. “With photography, I like to create fiction out of reality. I try and do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist.” – Martin Parr
  24. “When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” – Robert Frank
  25. “Your inspiration is better if it comes from many different sources and your sensibilities will transform all those influences and inspiration into your own visual world. It’s like reading the book instead of watching the movie.” – Peter Lindbergh
  26. “We see in colour all the time. Black and white is therefore immediately an interpretation of the world, rather than a copy.” – Michael Kenna

Suggested Read: How To Add A Vintage Black And White Effect In Photoshop

A person holding a black paper slip with a quote written on it
  1. “Photographing a culture in the here and now often means photographing the intersection of the present with the past.” – David DuChemin
  2. “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” – Dorothea Lange
  3. “To know ahead of time what you’re looking for means you’re then only photographing your own preconceptions, which is very limiting, and often false.” – Dorothea Lange
  4. “If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” – Eve Arnold
  5. “To photograph is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  6. “With photography, a new language has been created. Now, for the first time, it is possible to express reality by reality. We can look at an impression as long as we wish, we can delve into it and, so to speak, renew past experiences at will.” – Ernst Haas
  7. “Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred the inspiration to information.” – Man Ray
  8. “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
  9. “Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” – Yousuf Karsh
  10. “Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.” – Ambrose Bierce
  11. “Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.” – W Eugene Smith
  12. “The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.” – Orson Welles
  13. “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy
  14. “I think, retrospectivety helps to hone your ideas for future projects. I like it.” – Seamus McGarvey
  15. “How the visual world appears is important to me. I’m always aware of the light. I’m always aware of what I would call the ‘deep composition.’ Photography in the field is a process of creation, of thought and technique. But ultimately, it’s an act of imaginatively seeing from within yourself.” – Sam Abell

Famous Photography Quotes

Over the shoulder shot of a photographer photographing someone

“A picture can be worth a thousand words.” We totally agree with this famous quote coined by Henrik Ibsen. Photographs, indeed, can sometimes convey meaning and message beyond what words can express or contemplate so very effortlessly. Listed below are some photography quotes that are widely used and talked about time and again.

  1. “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.” – Annie Leibovitz
  2. “The word ‘photography’ literally means “writing with light.” – Mary E. Foster
  3. “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange
  4. “Your first 10000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  5. “If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.” – Ansel Adams
  6. “It is my intention to present – through the medium of photography – intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators.” – Ansel Adams
  7. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” – Ansel Adams
  8. “Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation, and execution.” – Ansel Adams
  9. “Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  10. “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  11. “The photograph itself doesn’t interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  12. “No place is boring if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and a pocket full of unexposed film.” – Robert Adams

Suggested Read: How To Make Your Photos Look Like Film In Lightroom

  1. “One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.” – Lisa Kristine
  2. “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
  3. “The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.” – Annie Leibovitz
  4. “Great photography is about the depth of feeling, not the depth of field.” – Peter Adams
  5. “In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” – Alfred Stieglitz
  6. “My photography is the result of being there at the right moment.” – Rene Burri
  7. “Skill in photography is acquired by practice, and not by purchase.” – Percy W. Harris
  8. “We are making photographs to understand what lives mean to us.” – Ralph Hattersley
  9. “Wherever there is light, one can photograph.” – Alfred Stieglitz
  10. “The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” – Ernst Hass
  11. “In photography, there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.” – August Sander
  12. “Photography is a love affair with life.” – Burk Uzzle
  13. “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.” – Diane Arbus
  14. “A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen
  15. “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
  16. “There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” – Ernst Haas
  17. “I’m paid to be lucky and that means making your own luck – getting yourself in the right position, in front of the right subject at the right time, and in the right light.” – Michael Yamashita

Suggested Read: How To Tell Stories With Shadows In Photoshop

Quirky Photography Quotes

An LED sign board

Want to crack a smile? But not the one that usually follows after you say “Say Cheese”, rather the one that comes naturally. Give these funny quotes a try and bring a smile to your clients’ faces, catch them chuckle, or perhaps lighten the mood. What is the source of these quirky quotes? Well, you might just be surprised to find that some of the most hilarious notions are not even stated by famous photographers, but rather someone you wouldn’t have guessed. Here – take a look!

  1. “There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.” – Abraham Lincoln
  2. “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” – Elliott Erwitt
  3. “The rarest thing in the world is a woman who is pleased with photographs of herself.” – Elizabeth Metcalf
  4. “Sure, I would love to do it for free but will ‘exposure’ pay my rent?” – Anonymous
  5. “People say photographs don’t lie, mine do.” – David LaChapelle
  6. “The only person happy with a 100% crop is a farmer” – Anonymous
  7. “Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.” – Stephen Wright
  8. “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” – David Alan Harvey
  9. “A friend of mine wanted to be a photographer but didn’t put enough effort into it. He just waited to see what developed.” – Anonymous
  10. “Photography is pretty simple stuff. You just react to what you see, and take many, many pictures.” – Elliott Erwitt
  11. “You might be a photographer if… Your eyesight from staring at the computer has gone from F11 to F1.8.” – Naman Pokarna
  12. “Consulting the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk?” – Edward Weston
  13. “You know you’re a photographer when… your favorite room in the house is the one with the most light and the least furniture.” – Clickin Moms
  14. “October is to photographers what April is to accountants.” – Melissa and Beth
  15. “Photography is an itch that won’t go away. No matter how much you scratch it.” – Dara McGrath
  16. “I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.” – Ellen Von Unwerth
  17. “Evolution in action: First, God said, ‘Let there be light.’ Then, he created two nude models. Now we have photographers.” – Bill Jay
  18. “Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” – Imogen Cunningham

Suggested Read: How To Maximize Your Downtime As A Photographer

Interesting Take On Light: Fascinating Quotes

A photography light and a person
  1. “If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.” – John Loengard
  2. “I think that digital is offering many great possibilities for cinematographers. Particularly in urban cityscapes and low light photography, it’s allowing us to render what we actually see with our eyes; which is interesting.” – Seamus McGarvey
  3. “Photography is just light remembering itself.” – Jerry Uelsmann
  4. “It’s about finding meaning through light. I’m always interested in tensions. A primary one is the collision between the familiar and the strange.” – Gregory Crewdson
  5. “Light is one of the most important factors in photography.” – Laura Gilpin
  6. “As sounds in a musical composition can be used not to express physical objects but ideas, emotions, harmonies, rhythmic orders and most any expression of the human mind and spirit, so light can be used visually to express the mind and spirit.” – Wynn Bullock
  7. “Photography is about light and what it does and how it is captured on a piece of negative.” – Matthew Modine
  8. “Everything around us, dead or alive, in the eyes of a crazy photographer mysteriously takes on many variations, so that a seemingly dead object comes to life through light or by its surroundings … To capture some of this – I suppose that’s lyricism.” – Josef Sudek
  9. “It’s easy to photograph light reflecting from a surface, the truly hard part is capturing the light in the air.” – Walker Evans
  10. “Light is the photographic medium par excellence; it is to the photographer what words are to the writer; color and paint to the painter; wood, metal, stone, or clay to the sculptor.” – Andreas Feininger
  11. “Balance of light is the problem, not the amount. Balance between shadows and highlights determines where the emphasis goes in the picture… make sure the major light in a picture falls at right angles to the camera.” – Elliott Erwitt
  12. “Why do we use flash at all? Because photography is not the same as eyesight. We can see in low-light situations where cameras, dependent upon a physical process to record visual information, are half-blind.” – David Hewson
  13. “Contrast is what makes photography interesting.” – Conrad Hall

Also Read: How To Scale Your Photography Business

We hope you found our compilation of photography quotes interesting! Which one is your favorite quotable quote from the list? Or do you have a personal favorite that’s not on the list? We would love to know! Drop your suggestions in the comment section below. Want to fuel your photography motivation further? We have just the right thing for you! Take a look at our blog page to get more photo inspiration, tips, and resources.

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