Here is a collection of photo quotations - famous sayings related to photography, inspiration, and creativitity.
If there is anything that opens our eyes to the myriad facets of photography, it is reading what the masters and critics have written or said about the art.
Have something to add? If you have a photography quote to contribute, please email me with the quotation, source, and author. I'd love to hear from you.
- "...everything looks worse in black and white." - Paul Simon, Kodachrome, from Negotiations And Love Song
- "...the most grandiose result of the photographic enterprise is to give us the sense that we can hold the whole world in our heads - as an anthology of images." - Susan Sontag, On Photography
- "A good photograph is knowing where to stand." - Ansel Adams, Photographer
- "A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever." - Mark Twain, Writer
- "A photograph is always invisible, it is not it that we see." - Roland Barthes, Writer
- "Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn't photogenic." - Edward Weston, Photographer
- "As I progressed further with my project, it became obvious that it was really unimportant where I chose to photograph. The particular place simply provided an excuse to produce work... you can only see what you are ready to see - what mirrors your mind at that particular time." - George Tice, Quoted in Susan Sontag's On Photography
- "I am always surprised when I see several cameras, a gaggle on lenses, filters, meters, et cetera, rattling around in a soft bag with a complement of refuse and dust. Sometimes the professional is the worst offender!" - Ansel Adams, The Camera
- "I shutter to think how many people are underexposed and lacking depth in this field." - Rick Steves, Travel guide and author
- "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." - Robert Capa, Photographer
- "Just as a fisherman cannot catch fish unless his line is in the water, a wildlife photographer cannot shoot great wildlife images unless he or she is out there with camera in hand and the knowledge of what to do then the 'magnificent moment' occurs." - George H. Harrison, Magnificent Moments: The World's Greatest Wildlife
- "Kodachrome, it gives us those nice bright colors
Gives us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah!
I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph
So momma, don't take my Kodachrome away..." - Paul Simon, Kodachrome, from Negotiations And Love Son
- "Life is like a good black and white photograph, there's black, there's white, and lots of shades in between." - Karl Heiner, Guy Who Said Something
- "Notebook. No photographer should be without one!" - Ansel Adams, The Camera
- "Now we see as through a glass darkly, but then, face to face." - Paul, Corinthians 1:13
- "People think that all cameramen do is point the camera at things, but it's a heck of a lot more complicated than that!" - Larry the Cameraman, Groundhog Day
- "Photography concentrates one's eye on the superficial. For that reason it obscures the hidden life which glimmers through the outlines of things like a play of light and shade. One can't catch that even with the sharpest lens." - Franz Kafka, Related in Gustav Janouch's Conversations with Kaf
- "Photography does not create eternity, as art does; it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption." - Andre Bazin, French film critic (1918?1958)
- "Photography is 90% sheer, brutal drudgery!" - Brett Weston, Photographer
- "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty." - Anonymous,
- "Secure the shadow, ere the substance fades." - Anonymous, Victorian photographers slogan, regarding postmort
- "Senseless photographers practice random acts of beauty; intelligent photographers practice consistent acts of selflessness." - Anonymous,
- "She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said 'Be careful his bowtie is really a camera'" - Paul Simon, America, from 1964/1993
- "Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter." - Ansel Adams, Photographer
- "The crude creations of mortal thought must finally give place to the glorious forms which we sometimes behold in the camera of divine Mind, where the mental picture is spiritual and eternal." - Mary Baker Eddy, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures
- "The photographic enthusiast likes to lure us into a darkened room in order to display his slides on a silver screen. Aided by the adaptability of the eye and by the borrowed light from the intense projector bulb, he can achieve those relationships in brightness that will make us dutifully admire the wonderful autumn tints he photographed on his latest trip. As soon as we look at a print of these photographs by day, the light seems to go out of them. It is one of the miracles of art that the same does not happen there. The paintings in our galleries are seen one day in bright sunshine and another day in the dim light of a rainy afternoon, yet they remain the same paintings, ever faithful, ever convincing. To a marvelous extent they carry their own light within. For their truth is not that of a perfect replica, it is the truth of art." - E.H. Gombrich, Art critic
- "The photographic image ... is a message without a code." - Roland Barthes, Writer
- "The question is not what you look at but what you see!" - Henry David Thoureau, Philosopher
- "The term accessories has come to include a host of photographic gadgets of questionable value..." - Ansel Adams, The Camera
- "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." - Ansel Adams, Photographer
- "There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept." - Ansel Adams, Photographer
- "These people live again in print as intensely as when their images were captured on old dry plates of sixty years ago... I am walking in their alleys, standing in their rooms and sheds and workshops, looking in and out of their windows. Any they in turn seem to be aware of me." - Ansel Adams, The preface of Jacob a Riis: Photographer & C
- "This is a perfect world
I'm riding on an incline
I'm staring in your face
You'll photograph mine" - Talking Heads, Perfect World, Little Creatures
- "To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things." - Ansel Adams, Photographer
- "To visualize an image (in whole or in part) is to see clearly in the mind prior to exposure, a continuous projection from composing the image through the final print." - Ansel Adams, The Camera
- "Too many cameras and not enough food
'Cause this is what we've seen." - Sting, Driven to Tears, from Zenyatta Mondatta
- "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop" - Ansel Adams, Photographer
- "Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures." - Susan Sontag, On Photography
- "We look at a painting to know the painter; it's his company we are after, not his skill." - James McNeill Whistler, Painter
- "When I first became interested in photography, I thought it was the whole cheese. My idea was to have it recognized as one of the fine arts. Today I don't give a hoot in hell about that. The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each man to himself." - Edward Steichen, Quoted in Penelope Niven's Steichen: A Biography<!
- "You don't take a photograph, you make it." - Ansel Adams, Photographer
- "You don't take a photograph. You ask, quietly, to borrow it." - Pentax, Advertisement
- "You press the button and we do the rest." - Kodak, Advertisement
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