The Best Photography Quotes

Between my writing, Twitter, other social sites, and my blog posts, I always find myself looking up quotes from the great photography masters. I love using their words of advice to help motivate others, and to use them as a starting point for things I’m writing. Here are 10 of my favorites:

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

“I think a photography class should be a requirement in all educational programs because it makes you see the world rather than just look at it.” ~Author Unknown

“My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph.” ~Richard Avedon

“The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer.” ~Author Unknown

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

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” ~Ansel Adams

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” ~Lewis Hine

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

“The question is not what you look at but what you see!” ~Henry David Thoureau

“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

What are some of your favorite quotes?

5 thoughts on “The Best Photography Quotes”

  1. Some of my favorite quotes show how little has actually changed in the last 100+ years…

    “It is rather amusing, this tendency of the wise to regard a print which has been locally manipulated as irrational photography – this tendency which finds an aesthetic tone of expression in the word faked. A MANIPULATED print may be not a photograph. The personal intervention between the action of the light and the print itself may be a blemish on the purity of photography. But, whether this intervention consists merely of marking, shading and tinting in a direct print, or of stippling, painting and scratching on the negative, or of using glycerin, brush and mop on a print, faking has set in, and the results must always depend upon the photographer, upon his personality, his technical ability and his feeling. BUT long before this stage of conscious manipulation has been begun, faking has already set in. In the very beginning, when the operator controls and regulates his time of exposure, when in dark-room the developer is mixed for detail, breadth, flatness or contrast, faking has been resorted to. In fact, every photograph is a fake from start to finish, a purely impersonal, unmanipulated photograph being practically impossible. When all is said, it still remains entirely a matter of degree and ability.” -Edward Steichen, Camera Work 1, 1903

    “The lens is always considered the most important of all the tools the photographer employs. So it is, but I should like to say boldly that, within limits, I do not care what make of lens I use. It is as well to have the best your means will allow, but there has always been too much made of particular variations in the make of lenses. It has been the fashion to think too much of the tools and too little of the use made of them. I have one friend who did nothing last year because he had made up his mind to buy a new lens, and
    could not determine whose make it should be, and he was tired of his old apparatus. His was of the order of particular and minute minds that try to whittle nothing to a point. I have another friend who takes delight in preparing for photography, and spends a small fortune in doing so, but
    never takes a picture.” Henry P. Robinson, 1888ish

  2. Nice photography quotes, really these are awesome like this “Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”

  3. How do you feel about taking the shots but letting the client take it from there? In other words they own the memory card ect. They do their own developments ect. We charge only for our time, creativity ect. Thats it, we do not keep the rights so to speak. Any comments welcomed!

    • Beverly
      If that’s your business model, you have to be aware of how much you will need to create a successful business because you will never have any additional sales. The “$150 charge for a portrait session” isn’t going to cut it. I know one wedding photographer who does that and charges $10,000 for a wedding, then hands over the files. He gets paid well for what he does – and he’s a great photographer – nothing average about what he does. He figured out how to strike a balance between what people want (the files) and what he needs for a successful business, and it works for him.

      Keep in mind that if you hand over everything – files, rights, etc – you better have a very clear model release and contract in place so that you can also use the images in a way you see fit for your business.



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