136 Inspirational Photography Quotes in 2024

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But I wonder, what else do “they” say? In order to find out, I’ve culled together the best photography quotes on the subjects of photographs, cameras, inspiration, and more, as said by some of history’s most famous and talented photographers.

These photography quotes offer insights into the minds of photography greats, from how they see the world and approach the art of making a photo, to their views on cameras, to ideas on how to improve one’s photography skills.

I hope these photography quotes inspire you in your journey of becoming a better photographer.

Photography Quotes

  1. “If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough.”
    Robert Capa
  2. “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
    Ansel Adams
  3. “In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
    Alfred Stieglitz
  4. “There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.”
    Robert Frank
  5. “Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.”
  6. “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
  7. “When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.”
    Alfred Eisenstaedt

  8. “We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”
    Ralph Hattersley
  9. “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”
    Annie Leibovitz
  10. “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
  11. “You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it.”
  12. “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
  13. “If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph.”
    Ansel Adams
  14. “A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”
    Edward Steichen
  15. “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
  16. “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
    Andy Warhol
  17. “Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”
    Diane Arbus
  18. “What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are time and light.”
    John Berger

  19. “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
  20. “The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.”
    Scott Lorenzo
  21. “If the photographer is interested in the people in front of his lens, and if he is compassionate, it’s already a lot. The instrument is not the camera but the photographer.”
    Eve Arnold
  22. “A tear contains an ocean. A photographer is aware of the tiny moments in a persons life that reveal greater truths.”
  23. “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
    Dorothea Lange
  24. “Essentially what photography is is life lit up.”
    Sam Abell
  25. “…we are there with our cameras to record reality. Once we start modifying that which exists, we are robbing photography of its most valuable attribute.”
    Philip Jones Griffiths
  26. “I don’t trust words. I trust pictures.”
    Gilles Peress
  27. “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
  28. “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
    Diane Arbus
  29. “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 organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.”
    Elliott Erwitt
  30. “Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.”
    Sally Mann

  31. “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
    Marc Riboud
  32. “It’s more important for a photographer to have very good shoes, than to have a very good camera.”
    Sebastiao Salgado
  33. “Once you learn to care, you can record images with your mind or on film. There is no difference between the two.”
  34. “Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.”
    Ambrose Bierce
  35. “Every artist has a central story to tell, and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.”
    Gregory Crewdson
  36. “Photography is truth.”
    Jean-Luc Godard
  37. “Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the photo as a judgment that the photograph is good.”
    Garry Winogrand
  38. “Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.”
    Berenice Abbott
  39. “The pictures are there, and you just take them.”
    Robert Capa
  40. “Photography has nothing to do with cameras.”
    Lucas Gentry

  41. “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
  42. “If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.”
    Linda McCartney
  43. “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
    Ansel Adams
  44. “The more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer.”
    Robert Mapplethorpe
  45. “I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.”
    Ernst Haas
  46. “Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true.”
    Jacques-Henri Lartigue
  47. “Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
    Destin Sparks
  48. “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
    Diane Arbus
  49. “A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”
    Eudora Welty
  50. “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson
  51. “If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.”
    Jay Maisel
  52. “It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson
  53. “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.”
    Elliott Erwitt
  54. “It’s not the photographer who makes the picture, but the person being photographed.”
    Sebastiao Salgado
  55. “Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.”
    William Klein
  56. “To know ahead of time what you’re looking for means you’re then only photographing your own preconceptions, which is very limiting, and often false.”
    Dorothea Lange
  57. “One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.”
    Annie Leibovitz
  58. “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
    Dorothea Lange

  59. “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
    Karl Lagerfeld
  60. “No place is boring, if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.”
    Robert Adams
  61. “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
  62. “There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”
    Ernst Haas
  63. “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
  64. “Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”
    Alfred Stieglitz
  65. “Since I’m inarticulate, I express myself with images.”
    Helen Levitt
  66. “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
    Matt Hardy
  67. “Photography is pretty simple stuff. You just react to what you see, and take many, many pictures.”
    Elliott Erwitt
  68. “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
    Ansel Adams
  69. “With photography, I like to create a fiction out of reality. I try and do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist.”
    Martin Parr
  70. “When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.”
  71. “Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work.”
    Martin Parr
  72. “I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of place could be photographed.”
    Annie Leibovitz
  73. “I never have taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.”
    Diane Arbus
  74. “All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
    Richard Avedon
  75. “Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”
    Susan Sontag
  76. “I suspect it is for one’s self-interest that one looks at one’s surroundings and one’s self. This search is personally born and is indeed my reason and motive for making photographs.”
    Lee Friedlander
  77. “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.”
    Robert Frank
  78. “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
  79. “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at the picture for a second and think of it all your life.”
    Joan Miro

    An illustration with a quote by photographer Joan Miro

  80. “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
  81. “I think good dreaming is what leads to good photographs.”
    Wayne Miller
  82. “Photography is a medium in which if you don’t do it then, very often you don’t do it at all, because it doesn’t happen twice.”
    Paul Strand
  83. “The photograph itself doesn’t interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson
  84. “I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.”
    Bruce Gilden
  85. “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”
    Jim Richardson
  86. “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson
  87. “One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.”
    Dorothea Lange
  88. “Photography helps people to see.”
    Berenice Abbott
  89. “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely every hundredth of a second.”
    Marc Riboud
  90. “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
  91. “A landscape image cuts across all political and national boundaries, it transcends the constraints of language and culture.”
    Charlie Waite
  92. “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.”
    Steve McCurry
  93. “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.”
  94. “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
  95. “Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.”
    Yousuf Karsh
  96. “Don’t pack up your camera until you’ve left the location.”
    Joe McNally
  97. “The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?”
    Edward Weston
  98. “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
  99. “Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.”
    W. Eugene Smith
  100. “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
  101. “The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.”
    Susan Meiselas
  102. “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
  103. “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson

    An illustration with a quote by photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson

  104. “Photography is an austere and blazing poetry of the real.”
    Ansel Adams
  105. “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”
    Alfred Eisenstaedt
  106. “I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.”
    Ellen Von Unwerth
  107. “Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.”
    Andre Kertesz
  108. “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”
    Chase Jarvis
  109. “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
  110. “Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”
    Peter Adams
  111. “Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”
  112. “I’m an amateur photographer, apart from being a professional one, and I think maybe my amateur pictures are the better ones.”
    Elliott Erwitt
  113. “Only photograph what you love.”
    Tim Walker
  114. “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”
    Ansel Adams
  115. “Photographers stop photographing subjects too soon before they have exhausted the possibilities.”
    Dorothea Lange
  116. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
    Ansel Adams
  117. “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”
    Lewis Hine

    An illustration with a quote by photographer Lewis Hine

  118. “In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.”
    August Sander
  119. “Photography is a love affair with life.”
    Burk Uzzle
  120. “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second of the significance of an event.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson
  121. “The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.”
    Susan Sontag
  122. “When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”
    Wynn Bullock
  123. “Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.”
    Yousuf Karsh
  124. “It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours.”
    James Lalropui Keivom
  125. “If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no shortcuts in photography.”
    Edward Weston
  126. “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”
    Dorothea Lange
  127. “My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain.”
    Helmut Newton
  128. “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
  129. “The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.”
    Orson Welles
  130. “Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.”
  131. “Everyone will take one great picture, I’ve done better because I’ve taken two.”
    David Bailey
  132. “Composition is the strongest way of seeing.”
    Edward Weston
  133. “Photography is 1% talent and 99% moving furniture.”
    Arnold Newman
  134. “The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score and the print the performance.”
    Ansel Adams
  135. “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”
    Imogen Cunningham
  136. “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”
    Henri Cartier-Bresson

We hope these photography quotes can inspire you in your own life and work. Did we miss any photography quotes that should be on this list? Feel free to get in touch to let us know, and we may add it in a future update!

About the author: Tammy Jean Lamoureux is a photographer, artist & gypsy based out of Brooklyn, NY and Boston, MA. You can see more of her work on her website.