The 100 Most Famous Photography Quotes Of All Time

Usually, we look at pictures to inspire our photography, but what words of wisdom do those behind the lens have to say? A lot it would seem. Here are 100 famous photography quotes to inspire your next photo shoot.

1. “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”Henri Cartier-Bresson

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

3. “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”Robert Capa

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

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

6. “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.”Don McCullin

7. “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”Karl Lagerfeld

9. “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

8. “There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.”Robert Frank

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

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Photography quote “Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” by Diane Arbus

11. Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be. Duane Michals

12. “If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no shortcuts in photography.” Edward Weston

13. “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

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

15. “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” Alfred Eisenstaedt

16. “Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.” Anonymous

17. “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” Aaron Siskind

18. “We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.” Ralph Hattersley

19. “In the world of photography, you get to share a captured moment with other people.” James Wilson

20. “Photography helps people to see.” Berenice Abbott

the photography quote “Photography helps people to see.” by famous photographer Berenice Abbott

21. “You know, I really don’t think you learn from teachers. You learn from work. I think what you learn, really, is how to be – you have to be your own toughest critic, and you only learn that from work, from seeing work.” Garry Winogrand

22. “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

23. “Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.” William Klein

24. “If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photograph.” Bruce Gilden

25. “One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.” Dorothea Lange

26. “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

27. “If you photograph for a long time, you get to understand such things as body language. I often do not look at people I photograph, especially afterwards. Also when I want a photo, I become somewhat fearless, and this helps a lot. There will always be someone who objects to being photographed, and when this happens you move on.” Martin Parr

28. “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” Jim Richardson

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

30. “A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective.” Irving Penn

Photography quote “A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective.” by  Irving Penn

31. “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

32. “A camera alone does not make a picture. To make a picture you need a camera, a photographer and above all a subject. It is the subject that determines the interest of the photograph.” Man Ray

33. “A good photographer records; a great photographer reveals.” Skyler Reid

34. “What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.” John Berger

35. “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” Matt Hardy

36. “It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours.” James Lalropui Keivom

37. “The golden rule is work fast. As for framing, composition, focus – this is no time to start asking yourself questions: you just have to trust your intuition and the sharpness of your reflexes.” Jacques-Henri Lartigue

38. “The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.” Paul Strand

39. “After following the crowd for a while, I’d then go 180 degrees in the exact opposite direction. It always worked for me.” Elliott Erwitt

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

photography quote “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” by David Alan Harvey

41. “It’s important to take bad pictures. It’s the bad ones that have to do with what you’ve never done before. They can make you recognize something you hadn’t seen in a way that will make you recognize it when you see it again.” Diane Arbus

42. “Today, I am going to shoot someone… and they will love me for it!” Anonymous

43. “The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.” Scott Lorenzo

44. “I don’t trust words. I trust pictures.”Gilles Peress

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

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

47. “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”Susan Sontag

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

49. “Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”Peter Adams

50. “For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.”Henri Cartier-Bresson

photography quote “For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.” by Henri Cartier-Bresson

51. “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

52. “I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.”Nan Goldin

53. “A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”Edward Steichen

54. “If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.”Linda McCartney

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

56. “Above all, life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference.”Robert Frank

57. “Buying a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner.” — Anonymous

58. “Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees.”Paul Strand

59. “The pictures are there, and you just take them.” — Robert Capa

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

photography quote "Photograph the world as it is. Nothing's more interesting than reality." by Mary Ellen Mark

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

62. “The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?”Edward Weston

63. “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

64. “The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.”William Thackeray

65. “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

66. “When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.” — Anonymous

67. “If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.”Richard Avedon

68. “Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true.”Jacques-Henri Lartigue

69. “To me, the magic of photography, per se, is that you can capture an instant of a second that couldn’t exist before and couldn’t exist after. It’s almost like a cowboy that draws his gun. You draw a second before or after, you miss and you’re dead – not them. To me, photography’s always like that.”Mario Testin

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

photography quote “Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.” by Sally Mann

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

72. “Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.” — Anonymous

73. “When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”Wynn Bullock

74. “It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.”David Bailey

75. “I didn’t choose photography, photography chose me.”Gerardo Suter

76. “There’s a time when people say your work is revolutionary, but you have to keep being revolutionary. I can’t keep shooting pop stars all my life. You have to keep changing, keep pushing yourself, looking for the new, the unusual.”Rankin

77. “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

78. “The more you photograph, the more you realize what can and what can’t be photographed. You just have to keep doing it.”Eliot Porter

79. “My interest in photography is not to capture an image I see or even have in my mind, but to explore the potential of moments I can only begin to imagine.”Lois Greenfield

80. “The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.”Orson Welles

photography quote “The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.” by Orson Welles

81. “It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.”Elliott Erwitt

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

83. “I began to realize that the camera sees the world differently than the human eye and that sometimes those differences can make a photograph more powerful than what you actually observed.”Galen Rowell

84. “I think life is too short not to be doing something which you really believe in.”Steve McCurry

85. “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.”Diane Arbus

86. “Essentially what photography is is life lit up.”Sam Abell

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

88. “Photography gives you the opportunity to use your sensibility and everything you are to say something about and be part of the world around you. In this way, you might discover who you are, and with a little luck, you might discover something much larger than yourself.”Peter Lindbergh

89. “When you photograph a face… you photograph the soul behind it.”Jean-Luc Godard

90. “I think of photography like therapy.”Harry Gruyaert

photography quote “I think of photography like therapy.” by Harry Gruyaert

91. “You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.”William Albert Allard

92. “Photography is like a moment, an instant. You need a half-second to get the photo. So it’s good to capture people when they are themselves.”Patrick Demarchelier

93. “I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.”Bruce Gilden

94. “No place is boring if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and a pocket full of unexposed film.”Robert Adams

95. “I threw myself into this artform because photography had given me a new sense of mission and identity.”Bob Anderson

96. “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.”Robert Frank

97. “It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.”Paul Strand

98. “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

99. “Only photograph what you love.”Tim Walker

100. “Photography is a love affair with life.”Burk Uzzle

photography quote “Photography is a love affair with life.” by Burk Uzzle

Which one is your favorite?

We hope this list of photography quotes from the masters have inspired you.

Do you have a favorite photography quote? Please share it with us in the comments below.

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