Photography Quotes

Photography Quotes – A Selection of the Best Quotes From Photographers

What are your personal favorite quotes about photography? If you don’t have any yet, then this article will go a long way to discovering some good photography quotes. Quotes from photographers help give us a deeper insight into the minds of the people who produced some of the world’s most iconic photos. Today we shall introduce you to inspirational portrait photography quotes, as well as a wide range of other photo-related topics.



Our Favorite Good Photography Quotes

It’s not surprising that quotes about photography are among the most prominent posts to share on social media, typically from fellow photographers. Reading quotes from photographers that embodies our passion for photography is profound, and it frequently reminds us of the necessity of capturing experiences with our lenses. However, inspirational photography quotes are more than simply decorations for fashionable social media posts.

These nuggets of wisdom can even spark a flood of inspiration and a deep grasp of the art of photography.

Top Photography Quotes Renate Rössing taking photos in front of the ruins of a building, 1950; Deutsche Fotothek‎, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons


Portrait Photography Quotes

There are so many technical and creative aspects to producing good portrait photos. If you want to take your portrait photography to the next level, or if you’re just curious about the skills and attitude of expert portrait photographers, then these portrait photography quotes are just what you need.

These quotes from photographers may unravel some of the mysteries of how to create intriguing portrait photographs of your own.

Quotes About Photography “Revolving” self-portrait (c. 1865) by Nadar; Nadar, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he’s being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks. He’s implicated in what’s happened, and he has a certain real power over the result.” – Richard Avedon


“Really good portraiture is a two-way street where someone is throwing little gems out and you’re grabbing them. Very few people have a 100 percent fluency in being able to do this… this kind of magical reaction with a camera.” – Albert Watson


“The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. It’s a question mark you put on somebody. Trying to say, ‘Who is it? What does it amount to? What is the significance of that face?’ The difference between a portrait and a snapshot is that in the portrait, the person has agreed to be photographed.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Best Photography Quotes Mirra Alfassa, commonly referred to as “The Mother”, photographed by Henri Cartier Bresson in 1950; Henri Cartier Bresson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“For me, a portrait is something from which you feel the person, their inner quality, and what it is that makes them who they are. For instance, in the hand of the Dalai Lama donning his prayer beads in the window light; you feel his spirituality, his sense of presence. Frequently, the most interesting people to photograph are the elderly. George Wallace, Bukowski, William Burroughs, Rauschenberg, Mandela. They’ve lived their lives. It’s all in their face, and it shows.” – Herb Ritts


“My idea was that if I took a picture of somebody and years later, or whenever, they would die and if someone wanted to know who this person was, they could take one of these pictures and it would tell who the person was.” – David LaChapelle

Some Good Photography Quotes A signed Polaroid picture of David LaChapelle; Sasha Kargaltsev from New York, US, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


“A portrait photographer depends upon another person to complete his picture. The subject imagined, which in a sense is me, must be discovered in someone else willing to take part in a fiction he can’t possibly know about. My concerns are not his. We have separate ambitions for the image. His need to plead his case probably goes as deep as my need to plead mine, but the control is with me.” – Richard Avedon


“When I have had such men before my camera my whole soul has endeavored to do its duty towards them in recording faithfully the greatness of the inner as well as the features of the outer man. The photograph thus taken has been almost the embodiment of a prayer.” – Julia Margaret Cameron


“My photography is more subtraction than addition. I always try to take off things. We all have a sort of mask of expression. You say goodbye, you smile, you are scared. I try to take all these masks away and little by little subtract until you have something pure left. A kind of abandon, a kind of absence. It looks like an absence, but in fact, when there is this emptiness, I think the interior beauty comes out. This is my technique. Or at least it’s what I think my technique is!” – Paolo Roversi

Famous Quotes From Photographers Paolo Roversi at Paris Fashion Week RTW Spring/Summer 2019; Myles Kalus Anak Jihem, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Photography Quotes About Taking Pictures

Photography seems easy enough: point your camera and press click. Yet, the outcome can vary vastly from amateur to professional, despite looking at the same subject in the same environment. What do the pros know that we do not?

Perhaps some quotes from photographers about the actual process will help us understand it all a bit better.

Good Photography Quotes List Self-Portrait with Camera and Mirrored Sphere (c. 1945) by Annemarie Heinrich; Annemarie Heinrich (1912-2005), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


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


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


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


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

Good Portrait Photography Quotes Marc Riboud in Arles, 1975; Jean-Pierre NAUD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


“How do we start taking pictures of people, and stop taking pictures of poses?” – Justin and Mary Marantz


“The people who hire me as a wedding photographer hire me not just because of my photographic style, they hire me because of the style of my personality. My style and personality match, so they know they’re getting a genuine style.” – Jared Platt


“Wherever the center of the light source is, you want that to be a little bit above the center of the couple’s eyes – something magical happens when you do this.” – Zach and Jody Gray


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

Top Portrait Photography Quotes Photographic portrait of nature photographer Ansel Adams, which first appeared in the 1950 Yosemite Field School yearbook. The camera is probably a Zeiss Ikon Universal Juwel; J. Malcolm Greany, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Inspirational Quotes About Photography

It’s easy to be inspired by a photographer’s photographs, but the photographer’s words may also be a fantastic source of inspiration. If you’re searching for that extra boost to get back into photography, or simply want to discover what the great have to say, look no further.

Their photos talk for themselves, but how much do you truly know about them without a peek into their minds and processes?

Self-Portrait Photography Quotes The photographer (2014) by Stiller Beobachter; Stiller Beobachter from Ansbach, Germany, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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


“Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph” – Andre Kertesz


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


“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

Famous Quotes About Photography Irving Penn’s photographic equipment, Prague, 1986. Photograph from Jiří Poláček´s archive; Jiří Poláček, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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


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


“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


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

Top Quotes From Photographers David Alan Harvey in Havana, taken by Christopher Michel in 2017; Cmichel67, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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


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


“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

Famous Good Photography Quotes Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France, Course at Dieppe (1912) by Jacques-Henri Lartigue; Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“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


“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.”  – Joan Miró


“While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” – Dorothea Lange


Quotes From Photographers Regarding Emotion in Art

A photo is not just a static image, it invokes emotion. Maybe it is a nostalgic recollection or something we see in ourselves reflected back at us. Maybe it is the sympathetic and compassionate parts of our beings that cannot help but react to images of beauty or even trauma.

Whatever the reason, photos are able to stir up a range of emotions, and photographers are very aware of that fact.

Portrait Photography Quotes Migrant mother, Nipomo, California (1936) by Dorothea Lange; Dorothea Lange, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“Photography is an immediate reaction; drawing is a meditation.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson


“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.” – Edward Steichen


“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

Good Quotes From Photographers A photograph of Annie Leibovitz, who is one of the most famous photographers alive today. She shoots for magazines, was Rolling Stone’s photographer, and has made images of many of the world’s most famous people; Robert Scoble from Half Moon Bay, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


“I prefer to photograph people and try to capture an emotion which can be universally understood. Photography is the language I use to translate other cultures.” – Tina Manley


“Photography is all about light, composition, and, most importantly, emotion.” – Larry Wilder


“I’ve never made any picture, good or bad, without paying for it in emotional turmoil.” – W. Eugene Smith


“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.” – Edward Steichen

Top Good Photography Quotes Rodin–Le Penseur (1900/1906) by Edward SteichenEdward Steichen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Funny Quotes From Photographers

Photographers are creative-minded people, which often means equal doses of seriousness and humor. Since their cameras are pointed at life around them, there are sure to be many moments both planned and spontaneous that bring the lighter side of life to the fore.

Here are a few humorous quotes about photography.

Good Quotes About Photography Self-portrait with Ursula (1938) by Annemarie Heinrich; Annemarie Heinrich (1912-2005), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“Actually, I’m not all that interested in the subject of photography. Once the picture is in the box, I’m not all that interested in what happens next. Hunters, after all, aren’t cooks.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson


“People say photographs don’t lie; mine do.” – David Lachapelle


“Buying a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner.” – Unknown


“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

Famous Photography Quotes Cover picture of the illustrated book Photo Graphics (1980) by Sam Haskins; Sam Haskins, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons


Quotes About the Philosophy of Photography

As with any art form, there are different styles and philosophies behind one’s technique. It is not simply about taking a picture – it is about capturing the essence of the moment.

Every photographer has their own unique perspective and philosophy behind their own works.

Best Quotes About Photography Artist-photographer Ithaka Darin Pappas in Awa-Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, working on his navel-portrait photography series “Umbilicus”, April 29th 1992; T.Skmto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


“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


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


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


“The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.” – Edward Weston

Well-Known Quotes About Photography Alfred Kreymbourg: The poet as he appeared in a pantomime interpretation of his poem, “Balloons” (1921) by Edward Weston; Edward Weston, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“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


“Kodak sells film, but they don’t advertise film; they advertise memories.” – Theodore Levitt


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


“Photography is the recording of strangeness and beauty with beguiling precision.” – Sebastian Smee


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

Well-Known Portrait Photography Quotes Orson Welles, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1937; Carl Van Vechten, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“Photography is a contest between a photographer and the presumptions of approximate and habitual seeing. The contest can be held anywhere” – John Szarkowski


“Photography is a strong tool, a propaganda device, and a weapon for the defense of the environment and therefore for the fostering of a healthy human race and even very likely for its survival.” – Eliot Porter


“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


“Visual ideas combined with technology combined with personal interpretation equals photography. Each must hold its own; if it doesn’t, the thing collapses.” – Arnold Newman

Best Portrait Photography Quotes Self-portrait (1981) by Arnold Newman, from News and Events, a newsletter published by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT); Rochester Institute of Technology, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


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


“At 42, I decided to become a photographer because it offered a means of creative thought and action. I didn’t rationalize this, I just felt it intuitively and followed my intuition, which I have never regretted.” – Wynne Bullock


“I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting.” – Harry Callahan


“I do not object to retouching, dodging, or accentuation as long as they do not interfere with the natural qualities of photographic technique.” – Alfred Stieglitz

Well-Known Quotes From Photographers Self-portrait (1886) by Alfred Stieglitz; Alfred Stieglitz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs.” – Sam Abell


“For me, the printing process is part of the magic of photography. It’s that magic that can be exciting, disappointing, rewarding, and frustrating all in the same few moments in the darkroom.” – John Sexton


Good Photography Quotes About Photographic Lighting

There are many technical aspects to taking a good picture. So far, we have covered the more creative and emotional quotes, but what about the technicalities? Are there any good photography quotes that provide insight into how professionals utilize lighting in their photographs?

Read further for some of the best quotes from photographers on utilizing light in a picture.

Good Photography Quotes Photographer Wally C. Guy using a lighting rig and Linhof Technika camera in the Sellwood lab, 1958; R6, State & Private Forestry, Forest Health Protection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“For me, light is life – and the first light that I see is the sun. So, when I think about light, I think about the sun and nothing else. Window light is the most important light for me. When I take a picture using window light, I always think about what a long trip the light is making to reach my subject.” – Paulo Roversi


“Light is inseparable from shadow. Shadow lives on the edge of light. Shadow complements the light. It evokes feeling and imagination; it transforms ordinary objects into extraordinary subjects.” – Danie Bester


“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.” – George Eastman

Best Quotes From Photographers George Eastman taking photographs in 1890, photographed by Fred Church; Church, Fred, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“Shadows play an integral role in letting sunlight permeate the scene. They provide a ‘setting’ that compliments the sun-kissed lights. Often, shadows will have a golden tint or even a rosy red color that conveys a unique atmospheric glow.”  – Jeanne Dobie


“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.” – George Eastman


“My philosophy on lighting is that any scene and any light situation can be enhanced by using flash in some capacity, even if it is only a subtle rim light, a hair light, or just a punch from a key light to lift the shadows.”  – Trompie van der Berg


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

Well-Known Photography Quotes Amarjit Chandan (left) and John Berger (right) in conversation, 2016; Gurvinder Singh, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


“I never went to school for photography. I learned lighting by working as an assistant. I learned by looking at the photographs of the Masters of Photography and the paintings of the Great Masters. You never invent: you simply take your influences from the giants before you.” – Paulo Roversi


“To learn the magic of light, get up before sunrise…and watch.” – Ted Grant


Quotes About Photography as an Art and Science

Some photographers view taking pictures as being a purely expressive process. However, although photography is certainly a creative endeavor, there are many scientific aspects that also need to be considered.

Here are a few science and art photography quotes.

Top Quotes About Photography Portrait of photographer Roger Rössings with his camera, c. 1947; Deutsche Fotothek‎, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons


“Photography for me is a passion, a mixture of science and art that creates magic. If a day goes by without photography, it’s incomplete.”  – Scott MacQuarrie


“The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.” – Joan Miró


“Creative photography is where science and art break even.” – Danie Bester


“The art is the challenge which you must meet every day: the technique you should learn to control with time. The science and the art of photography are really one, and not opposed to each other.” – Yousuf Karsh

Quotes From Photographers Self-Portrait (1938) by Yousuf Karsh; Yousuf Karsh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“The problem for me is that I’ve never actually studied photography, so it’s quite a steep learning curve. Cameras these days do so much for you automatically, but I still think there’s a point where you should actually know the technical side.” – Graeme le Saux


“This photographic thing has changed the entire vision of the world. It will go through every activity of humanity – science, medicine, space, ESP, for peace, against peace, entertainment, television, movies, all of them – you will not find one without photography.” – Lisette Model


That concludes our look at some of the best photography quotes. These quotes about photography have been sourced to inspire potential photographers and those who just appreciate the art form. We hope that these good photography quotes will make you view pictures in a whole new light.




Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Portrait Photography?

Photographs can be taken of absolutely anything that the eye can see. Yet there is a type of photography that focuses specifically on capturing the human profile. Good portrait photography not only captures the physical attributes of a subject but something about their character too.


Where Can I Find Good Photography Quotes?

The internet is full of great quotes from photographers. However, it can be daunting to find a specific topic you are interested in. We have collected a range of quotes from photographers across a range of topics that you might be interested in.


Cite this Article

Jordan, Anthony, “Photography Quotes – A Selection of the Best Quotes From Photographers.” Art in Context. July 5, 2022. URL:

Anthony, J. (2022, 5 July). Photography Quotes – A Selection of the Best Quotes From Photographers. Art in Context.

Anthony, Jordan. “Photography Quotes – A Selection of the Best Quotes From Photographers.” Art in Context, July 5, 2022.

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