Favorite Photography Quotes (Updated)


Here are some famous and not so famous photography related quotes, worth in occasional glimpse and a theme for somber, and sometimes not so somber, meditation:

Abraham Lincoln:

“There are no bad pictures; that's just how your face looks sometimes.”

Alfred Stieglitz:

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”

Ambrose Bierce:

“Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.”

Ansel Adams:

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

“Sometimes I arrive just when God's ready to have someone click the shutter.”

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”

“Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.”

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

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer—and often the supreme disappointment. ”

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!”

Annie Leibovitz:

“The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.”

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

August Sander:

“In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.”

Berenice Abbott:

“Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.”

Bill Brandt:

“I am not interested in rules or conventions. Photography is not a sport.”


“To me photography must suggest, not insist or explain.”

David LaChapelle:

“People say photographs don’t lie. Mine do.”

Destin Sparks:

“My wealth is measured not in money but in photographs, not in quantity but creativity.”

Diane Arbus:

“For me, the subject of the picture is always more important than the picture.”

“I never have taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.”

“A photography is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.”

“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”

Don McCullin:

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”

Dorothea Lange:

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

“It is no accident that the photographer becomes a photographer any more than the lion tamer becomes a lion tamer.”

Duane Michals:

“Never trust any photograph so large it can only fit inside a museum.”

Edward Weston:

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

“If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no short cuts in photography.”

“Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn’t photogenic.”

Ellen Von Unwerth:

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

Elliott Erwitt:

“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.”

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

Émile Zola:

“In my view you cannot claim to have seen something until you have photographed it.”

Ernst Haas:

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

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”

Garry Winogrand:

“If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.”

George Bernard Shaw:

“A photographer is like a cod, which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.”

George Eastman:

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson:

"I’m always amused by the idea that certain people have about technique, which translate into an immoderate taste for the sharpness of the image. It is a passion for detail, for perfection, or do they hope to get closer to reality with this trompe I’oeil? They are, by the way, as far away from the real issues as other generations of photographers were when they obscured their subject in soft-focus effects."

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

“Of course it’s all luck.”

Henry David Thoreau:

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”

Imogen Cunningham:

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

Jarod Kintz:

“Is a picture really worth a thousand words? What thousand words? A thousand words from a lunatic, or a thousand words from Nietzsche? Actually, Nietzsche was a lunatic, but you see my point. What about a thousand words from a rambler vs. 500 words from Mark Twain? He could say the same thing quicker and with more force than almost any other writer. One thousand words from Ginsberg are not even worth one from Wilde. It’s wild to declare the equivalency of any picture with any army of 1,000 words. Words from a writer like Wordsworth make you appreciate what words are worth.”

Joe McNally:

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

“John Loengard, the picture editor at Life, always used to tell me, ‘If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.’”

Kowthan Kumar:

“A photograph is a click away. A good photography is a thousand clicks away and a better one, a million clicks away.”

Leslie Dean Brown:

“Would you hang it on your wall? Then it's a good photograph.”

“Perhaps the most important skill in photography is learning which images to show.”

Mahatma Gandhi:

“I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.”

Mark Denman:

“God creates the beauty. Through my camera, I am a witness.”

Nick Harkaway:

“Photography is without mercy—though it's nonsense to say it does not lie. Rather, it lies in a particular, capricious way which makes beggars of ministers and gods of cat's meat men.”

Pansy Schneider-Horst:

“Some photographers could vomit on a piece of paper and call it art, you know... Hang it in the Guggenheim, or whatever. Sell a print for two hundred pounds? But I can't do that. I just— Maybe I have too much respect for walls... or something.”

Paul Caponigro:

“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.”

Peter Adams:

“A camera didn’t make a great picture anymore than a typewrite wrote a great novel.”

Richard Avedon:

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

Rick Steves:

“I shutter to think how many people are underexposed and lacking depth in this field.”

Robert Capa:

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

“The pictures are there, and you just take them.”

Robert Dosineau:

“If I knew how to take a good photograph, I'd do it every time.”

Robert Frank:

“The eye should learn to listen before it learns to look.”

Robert Mapplethorpe:

“The more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer.”

Ted Grant:

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

Walaa WalkademAgmal:

“I am not a photographer, I am a canon owner!!!”

Yogi Berra:

“You can observe a lot by watching.”

Ziad K. Abdelnour:

“Life is like photography. You need the negatives to develop.”


“Good photographs are easy to do, it is the bad ones that are so difficult, because we try so hard to make them good.”

“Shoot only what you love or hate.”

“Make more and better mistakes.”

“The god of photography is a cruel god, quick to anger, and incapable of forgiveness.”

"If the photograph doesn't speak for itself, I don't care what the photographer has to say."

“Keep standing in front of more interesting stuff!”

“The greater the suffering, the better the photography.”

“The early bird gets the better shot.”

“Perfection is the cynic’s standard.”

“One photo out of focus is a mistake, ten photos out of focus are an experiment, one hundred photos out of focus are a style.”

“You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it.”

“When people ask me what equipment I use, I tell them ‘my eyes.’”

“If you saw a man drowning and you could either save him or photograph the event ... what shutter speed would you use?”

“I’m glad this business has no expenses and I get to pocket all this money ... said no photographer ever.”

“Teach your kids photography, and they’ll never have enough money for drugs.”