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20 Inspirational Quotes About Photography by Great Artists

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January 2, 2016
Passionate about art, frequent visitor of exhibitions, Widewalls photography specialist.

Have you ever seen a photograph that left you breathless? Completely without words? For me, it was one of Ansel Adams’ landscapes. I actually don’t remember the image, but I do recall the overwhelming impact that such extraordinary print had on me when I was in front of it. It was the closest to the Stendhal syndrome I’ve ever been. Much later, I read a quote on photography, that said ”good photos are like good jokes – if you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good”, and for this image in particular, it was absolutely true. Although words cannot – and should not – explain photographs, it is always good to hear what certain legendary photographers think about the magnificent medium that is photography, and the very act of immortalising moments of our lives. With this in mind, we’ve put together 20 inspirational quotes on photography, which offer us an insight into how a photographic image comes to life, and what it means to its author.

Scroll down for inspirational quotes on photography by famous artists and photographers.

   Editors’ Tip: On Photography

If you’re a fan of wise words about your favourite medium, make sure you check out this spectacular book, written by American writer, filmmaker, teacher and political activist Susan Sontag. One of the most highly regarded books of its kind, On Photography first appeared in 1977 and is described by its author as “a progress of essays about the meaning and career of photographs.” It begins with the famous “In Plato’s Cave” essay, then offers five other prose meditations on this topic, and concludes with a fascinating and far-reaching “Brief Anthology of Quotations.” It provides some insightful views on this kind of image-making through thoughts that are still relevant for photographers and collectors interested in the medium today, and it is an absolute must-have among the essays on art written by Susan Sontag.

  • quotes about photography

Altering Life by Holding it Still

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

Sally Mann

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”

Andy Warhol

“Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”

Alfred Stieglitz

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

Dorothea Lange

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

Steve McCurry

  • quotes about photography

A Picture Painted by the Sun

“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

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

Ansel Adams

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.”

Elliott Erwitt

“Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.”

– Ambrose Bierce

“Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”

– Susan Sontag

  • quotes about photography

To Click with People

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

Alfred Eisenstaedt

“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people”

Annie Leibovitz

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

Diane Arbus

“I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.”

Nan Goldin

“Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”

Imogen Cunningham

“The best camera is the one that’s with you.”

– Chase Jarvis