July 18, 2024

149 Inspirational Photography Quotes to Ignite Your Creativity


Although fairly new in the larger scope of things, the art of photography has been blessed by a number of amazing masters. Luckily for those of us still developing our art, many of these masters have left behind a body of works and words that can guide us, inspire us, and remind us of truths we may have forgotten, truths that perhaps teeter on the edges of our thoughts, but have not yet found their landing place in our hearts.

Though most of us have seen their work (i.e. the dramatic black and white landscapes of Ansel Adams and Annie Leibovitz’s iconic portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono), few of us have had the opportunity to hear them speak with words.

Quotes on Photography by Famous Photographers

Here are the most revealing, illustrative, and inspirational photography quotes from famous photographers.

Inspirational Quotes

inspirational photography quote.

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

2. “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson

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

4. “Inspirational photography quotes can fuel creativity and understanding of the art of photography.”

5. “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

6. “Photography is a calling that requires vigilance and alertness for that moment in time that only occurs once.”
Caroline Mueller

7. “Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual.”
Edward Weston

8. “Consulting the rules of composition before taking a photograph, is like consulting the laws of gravity before going for a walk.”
Edward Weston

9. “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

10. “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

Street Photography

street photography quote.

11. “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.”
Robert Doisneau

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

13. “When I’m photographing, I see life. That’s what I deal with. I don’t have pictures in my head.”
Garry Winogrand

14. “I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait?”
Alex Webb

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

Conceptual Photography

conceptual photography quote.

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

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

18. “Photography is all about secrets. The secrets we all have and will never tell.”
Kim Edwards

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

20. “I never knew what I was doing until I was done.”
Man Ray

21. “There are many photographs which are full of life but which are confusing and difficult to remember. It is the force of an image which matters.”

People Photography

portrait photography quote.

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

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

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

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

26. “What the human eye observes causally and incuriously, the eye of the camera notes with relentless fidelity.”
Berenice Abbott

Fashion Photography

fashion photography quote.

27. “The truly fashionable are beyond fashion.”
Cecil Beaton

28. “Fashion is an expression of the times. Elegance is something else again.”
Horst P. Horst

29. “For me, every photograph is a portrait; the clothes are just a vehicle for what I want to say.”
Peter Lindbergh

30. “Fashion is about dreaming and making other people dream.”
Donatella Versace

31. “I always thought we were selling dreams, not clothes.”
Irving Penn

32. “My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues.”
Richard Avedon

33. “What I find interesting is working in a society with certain taboos – and fashion photography is about that kind of society. To have taboos, then to get around them – that is interesting.”
Helmut Newton

34. “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 ordinary.”
David Bailey

Landscape Photography

landscape photography quote.

35. “Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.”
Ansel Adams

36. “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
John Muir

37. “To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, ‘There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”
Ansel Adams

38. “A landscape image cuts across all political and national boundaries, it transcends the constraints of language and culture.”
Charlie Waite

Black and White Photography

black and white photography quote.

39. “Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.”
Robert Frank

40. “I’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors was black.”
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

41. “Black and white is abstract; color is not. Looking at a black and white photograph, you are already looking at a strange world.”
Joel Sternfeld

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

43. “The beauty of black and white photographs is that they never go out of style.”

44. “Black and white photography is not just about the absence of color, but about the presence of everything else.”

45. “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”
Ted Grant

Travel Photography

travel photography quote.

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

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

48. “I never stay in one country more than three months. Why? Because I was interested in seeing, and if I stay longer I become blind.”
Josef Koudelka

49. “Travel and photography fit like a glove.”
Ken Kaminesky

Color Photography

photography in color.

50. “In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little, human detail can become a Leitmotiv.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson

51. “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
Georgia O’Keeffe

52. “Color is everything, black and white is more.”
Dominic Rouse

53. “The beauty is in the colors.”
Henri Matisse

54. “Color is very much about atmosphere and emotion and the feel of a place.”
Alex Webb

Nature Photography

quote on nature photography.

55. “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”
Claude Monet

56. “Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye… it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.”
– Edvard Munch

Documentary Photography

57. “For me, documentary photography has always come with great responsibility. Not just to tell the story honestly and with empathy, but also to make sure the right people hear it.”
Giles Duley

58. “To me, documentary photography is as much about the subjects as it is about the photographer.”
Mary Ellen Mark

59. “Documentary photography is about telling the story of a place, and the photographer’s place within it.”
David Alan Harvey

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

Wedding Photography

quote on wedding photography.

61. “A wedding is a ceremony, not a photo session.”
Denis Reggie

62. “The most important thing at a wedding is to photograph the bride. The second most important thing is not to forget the groom.”
Alix Reuters

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

Portrait Photography

quote on portrait photography.

64. “A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed.”
Richard Avedon

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

66. “A true portrait should today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.”
― Philippe Halsman

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

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

69. “A good portrait is one that says something about the person, but it also says just as much about the photographer who took it.”
― Edward Steichen

70. “A self-portrait is an intimate dialogue between artist and viewer.”
Cindy Sherman

71. “The best thing about a self-portrait is that it tells your story.”

72. “Self-portraits are a way to explore how we see ourselves.”
Frida Kahlo

Humorous Photography

funny and humor quote.

73. “A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said: ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.”
Sam Haskins

74. “Gosh, my job is so easy! I just click a button all day… said no photographer ever!”
– Unknown

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

76. “How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, ‘I could have done that!”

77. “I have been known to flash people.”

Historical Photography

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

79. “The daguerreotype is the precursor to the photograph and involved a highly-polished silver-plated sheet of copper.”
Louis Daguerre

80. “The invention of photography was a momentous event in the history of human expression.”
Beaumont Newhall

81. “In the history of photography, we have many masterpieces in terms of black and white books.”
Rene Burri

82. “The history of photography is the history of the world.”
Art Shay

General Photography

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

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

85. “The best camera is the one you have with you.”
Chase Jarvis

86. “Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
Destin Sparks

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

88. “Photography is a way of being alive and being connected.”

89. “Photography is an adventure just as much as life itself is an adventure.”
Harry Callahan

90. “Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work.”
Martin Parr

91. “What reinforces the content of a photograph is the sense of rhythm – the relationship between shapes and values.”
Henri Cartier Bresson

92. “The Chinese have a theory that you pass through boredom into fascination and I think it’s true. I would never choose a subject for what it means to me or what I think about it. You’ve just got to choose a subject – and what you feel about it, what it means, begins to unfold if you just plain choose a subject and do it enough.”
Diane Arbus

93. “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

Macro Photography

quote on macro photography.

94. “In the world of macro, small details become momentous.”
Alex Mustard

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

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


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

98. “The best photojournalism is about capturing real moments in time.”
Lynsey Addario

99. “The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong.”
Susan Meiselas

100. “Photojournalists are in the business of storytelling.”
Chris Hondros

101. “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Wildlife Photography

quote on wildlife photography.

102. “Wildlife photography takes patience, perseverance, and a passion for nature.”
Nick Brandt

103. “In wildlife photography, patience is more important than the camera.”
― Franz Lanting

104. “When you photograph nature and wildlife, you learn to be more patient and appreciative of the small details in life.”
― Joel Sartore

The Art of Photography

105. “The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer.”
Steven Pinker

106. “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
Edgar Degas

107. “Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology.”
Ken Rockwell

108. “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”
Twyla Tharp

109. “The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”
Francis Bacon

110. “Photographs are just light and time.”
Aza Holmes

111. “Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it.”

112. “Photography is not just about the medium or the equipment, but about the artist’s ability to overcome resistance and create something worth making.”

113. “You just do what you love, and then a style happens later on. People put it together and decide it’s yours.”
David LaChapelle

114. “Most of my photos are grounded in people, I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face.”
Steve Mccurry

115. “And young people who are learning digital skills discover that the real challenge is coming up with an image that resonates, first of all, with yourself and hopefully, with an audience. They can learn all these new techniques and think that they’re easier to use, but creating great images isn’t about the tools.”
Jerry Uelsmann

116. “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

117. “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”
Vincent Van Gogh

Sports Photography

quote on sports photography.

118. “Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson

119. “I always get excited about shooting sports because of the unpredictability.”
Neil Leifer

120. “Sports photography is about capturing the essence of the game.”
Walter Iooss Jr.

121. “Photography is about capturing souls, not smiles.”
Dragan Tapshanov

Capturing Life’s Moments

122. “Savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second counts.”

123. “Only photography has been able to divide human life into a series of moments, each of them has the value of a complete existence.”
Eadweard Muybridge

124. “Photography sheds light on the austere and blazing poetry of the insignificant.”

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

126. “A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”
Eudora Welty

127. “Both a point and a purpose are necessary to make photography interesting.”

The Impact of Photography

impact of photography.

128. “Photography alters life by holding it still.”
Dorothea Lange

129. “Photography makes it possible to capture forever a moment that would otherwise be forever impossible to reproduce.”
― Unknown

130. “Photographers stop photographing subjects and start photographing light.”

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

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

Other Famous Photography Quotes

133. “Photography is incredibly complicated. It’s not just about pointing a camera and taking a picture.”

134. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
Ansel Adams

135. “Contrast is what makes photography interesting.”
― Conrad Hall

136. “The way that light hits objects, I think, is one of the more important things that sculpture and photography share.”
― Rashid Johnson

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

138. “It’s amazing how photography can capture just a split second of something exquisite.”
― Kiera Cass

139. “The Earth is Art, The Photographer is only a Witness.”
― Yann Arthus-Bertrand

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

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

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

143. “That frame of mind that you need to make fine pictures of a very wonderful subject; you cannot do it by not being lost yourself.”
― Dorothea Lange

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

145. “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

146. “Photographers don’t take pictures. They create images.”
― Mark Denman

147. “Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.”
― Arnold Newman

148. “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

149. “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

Do you have advice you’d like to give to future generations of photographers? What do you think they should know? What do you think would help them find their way in this most accessible and rewarding art? Share your advice in the comments section below!

Also, feel free to share any inspiring quotes we may have missed.

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