101 Inspirational Photography Quotes From The Masters

Getting stuck in a rut is nothing unusual for a creative person. Sometimes finding the motivation or inspiration to pick up your camera or get behind the computer to edit can be challenging. To help guide you towards a state more in tune with your creative energies, this list of 101 Inspirational Photography Quotes From The Masters is here to help get you back on track.

Just remember, although these quotes come from some of the best-rated photographers of the past, the world still needs to see what you have to offer. No one else has your eye, and no one can create the art or capture the moments in the exact way you can.

Regardless of whether our photographs end up on gallery walls or not, to have the capacity to capture and create art and share it with others is an incredible ability indeed. And one we shouldn’t squander. We all need to see what you have to offer. The world will be a better and brighter place for it. So read on, find that drive and get out there.


1. “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
– Ansel Adams

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

3. “Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.” 
– Percy W. Harris

4. “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

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

6. “Photography has nothing to do with cameras.”
– Lucas Gentry

7. “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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. “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

16. “Results are uncertain even among the more experienced photographers.”
– Matthew Brady

17. “When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.”
– Alfred Eisenstaedt

18. “Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.” 
– Anonymous

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

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

21. “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

22. “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

23. “Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.”
– Man Ray

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

25. “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

26. “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

27. “Of course I realize that photography is not the technical facility as much as it is the eye, and this decision that one makes for the moment at which you are going to snap, you know.”
– Ben Shahn

28. “Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”
– Alfred Stieglitz

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

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

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

32. “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

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

34. “Part of the role of photography is to exaggerate, and that is an aspect that I have to puncture. I do that by showing the world as I really find it.”
– Martin Parr

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

36. “Photography is about capturing souls not smiles.”
– Dragan Tapshanov

37. “Contrast is what makes photography interesting.”
– Conrad Hall

38. “I never have taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.”
– Diane Arbus

39. “Only photograph what you love.”
– Tim Walker

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

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

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

43. “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

44. “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

45. “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. When you photograph somebody who is in pain or discomfort, they trust you to make sure the images will act as their advocate.”
– Giles Duley

46. “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
– Ansel Adams

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

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

49. “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

50. “I think of photography like therapy.”
– Harry Gruyaert

51. “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

52. “Don’t pack up your camera until you’ve left the location.”
– Joe McNally

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

54. “Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure.” 
– Tony Benn

55. “We don’t learn from our good images; we learn from the ones that can be improved on.”
– Jen Rozenbaum

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

57. “I think that emotional content is an image’s most important element, regardless of the photographic technique. Much of the work I see these days lacks the emotional impact to draw a reaction from viewers, or remain in their hearts.”
– Anne Geddes

58. “I’ve always believed that photography is a way to shape human perception.”
– James Balog

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

60. “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
– Diane Arbus

61. “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

62. “Photography helps people to see.”
– Berenice Abbott

63. “A camera is a SAVE button for the mind’s eye.”
– Roger Kingston

64. “I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of place could be photographed.”
– Annie Leibovitz

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

66. “Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.”
– Yousuf Karsh

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

68. “Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.”
– Ambrose Bierce

69. “I walk, I look, I see, I stop, I photograph.”
– Leon Levinstein

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

71. “Photography is a kind of virtual reality, and it helps if you can create the illusion of being in an interesting world.”
– Steven Pinker

72. “There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.” 
– Robert Heinecken

73. “To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.”
– Edward Weston

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

75. “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

76. “The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer.”
– Gordon Parks

77. “I think good dreaming is what leads to good photographs.”
– Wayne Miller

78. “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

79. “In photography, there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.” 
– August Sander

80. “Fear is the thing that prohibits a lot of photographers from reaching their full potential.”
– Collin Pierson

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

82. “I believe photographers should shoot what they want, not shoot what they get.” 
– Roberto Valenzuela

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

84. “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” 
– Steve McCurry

85. “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

86. “My photography is the result of being there at the right moment.”
– Rene Burri

87. “I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.”
– Ernst Haas

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

89. “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
– Dorothea Lange

90. “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

91. “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

92. “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

93. “There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.”
– Abraham Lincoln

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

95. “Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.”
– Garry Winogrand

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

97. “Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”
– Susan Sontag

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

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

100. “You might be a photographer if… Your eyesight from staring at the computer has gone from F11 to F1.8.”
– Naman Pokarna’s Photography

101. “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 organising them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.”
– Elliott Erwitt

What did you think of the list? Are you feeling more in tune with your creative energy? Any of your favourite photography quotes missed? If so, let us know in the comments section below.

David Davis
David Davishttps://shuttergang.com
Hi, My name is Dave, and I am passionate about photography. I am currently travelling to document the world's most interesting people and places. I have started this blog to share these incredible sights and experiences with you, including all the knowledge I gain as a photographer/videographer along the way. If you share a passion for street, documentary, and travel photography, join the mailing list and stay up to date with the latest posts and resources direct from the field.

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