5 Great Quotes From 5 Great Photographers

Ansel AdamsWhenever I need inspiration, one of my favorite things to do is read some of my favorite quotes on photography, from some of the greatest photographers. So, I thought it’d be nice to share some of those quotes:

Ansel Adams

“We don’t make a photograph just with a camera, we bring to the act of photography all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved.”
―Ansel Adams

Edward Weston

“Good composition is merely the strongest way of seeing.” ―Edward Weston

Henri Cartier-Bresson

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

Eliot Porter

“You learn to see by practice. It’s just like playing tennis, you get better the more you play. The more you look around at things, the more you see. The more you photograph, the more you realize what can be photographed and what can’t be photographed. You just have to keep doing it.” ―Eliot Porter

Galen Rowell

“You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either.” ―Galen Rowell

What did I miss?

Do you have another favorite photography quote? If so, please share it with us by leaving a comment below! Thanks 🙂

Get more great tips in our free weekly newsletter.

steveb2About the Author: Steve Berardi is a naturalist, photographer, software engineer, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of southern California.


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

  2. My favorite quote:
    “Amateurs worry about equipment.
    Professionals worry about time.
    Masters worry about light.”

  3. There are heaps more, some of my favourites:

    “I photograph to see how something look like photographed” – Garry Winogrand

    “I am a visual man. I watch, watch, watch. I understand things through my eyes.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

    “Since I’m inarticulate, I express myself with images.” – Helen Levitt

    “If your photos are too obvious then you’re missing the point. Photos are about mystery, about not knowing, about dreams.” – Jason Eskenazi

  4. “Amateurs worry about equipment.
    Professionals worry about time.
    Masters worry about light.”


  5. Michael Höhne says:

    “Expose for the secrets; develop for the surprises.”

  6. Michael Höhne says:

    “Expose for the secrets; develop for the surprises.” I heard it from Paula Chamlee.

  7. Not from a photographer, but it certainly applies:
    “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” — Wayne Gretzky

  8. Ellen Kinsel says:

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

  9. I’ve used this abbreviated quote in my Sign Trade, and now apply it to my Photography:
    “It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see”-Henry David Thoreau
    And one that applies to today”
    “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment”-Ansel Adams
    VOTE, Please!

  10. Ansell Adams said something like this:

    “If you want to show how something looks, use color. If you want to show how something feels, use black and white.”

  11. Thank you for the inspirational post!

  12. Something that Edgar Degas, an artist, said over a hundred years ago but which can easily apply to this digital photography and world of photoshopping: “Art is not what you see but what you make others see.” Substitute “Photography” for “Art”.

  13. Frank Townsley says:

    Don’t know who quoted it, but use it quite often in my teaching: “Less is more”. That is, simplify and crop out undesired content.

  14. “The camera never lies, sadly the same can’t be said for the photographer”…ANON can be quite true at times.

  15. Authors common & unknown:
    Film is cheap, it’s digital keep shooting
    I know what I like when I see it!
    Compose your pictures before you touch your camera.
    Keep shooting!

  16. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the 19th century poet, wrote in his essay “Nature,” “Such is the constitution of all things, or such the plastic power of the human eye, that the primary forms, as the sky, the mountain, the tree, the animal, give us a delight in and for themselves; a pleasure arising from outline, color, motion, and grouping. This seems partly owing to the eye itself. The eye is the best of artists.”

  17. In his essay “Equivalence: The Perennial Trend”, the photographer Minor White, editor of Aperture Magazine for many years, wrote “In the world of photography the vast majority of viewers remain so subject-identification bound that they stay ignorant of the ‘expressive’ qualities of shapes and forms or are unable to overcome their fear of letting themselves go and responding to “expressive” shapes or colors, that is, the design side of the pictorial experience.”

  18. …To be a photographer, one must photograph. No amount of book learning, no checklist of seminars attended, can substitute for the simple act of making pictures. Experience is the best teacher of all. And for that, there are no guarantees that one will become an artist. Only the journey matters… – Harry Callahan

  19. Kurt P Dreas says:

    “Pre-meter, Pre-compose, Pre-focus, Pre-visualize, PREPARE” – Kurt P Dreas.
    ( from the good old film days, which is very useful to digital today )

    Yes, digital cameras do much if this for you, but if you “chimp” you’ll see that not all of your shots are crystal clear. The cameras still use reflective metering, (vs. incident ), automatic focus is not automatically correct. The BEST way to compose a shot is with a tripod. They are not always easy or advisable to use, but you cannot argue that it is true. Just take your best shots and make an 11X14
    print, or enlarge to this size & use a 4X6, to save paper and ink. I’ll bet you that not all of your shot is crystal clear / absolutely focused correctly. Pre-visualize, obviously be ready for the surprises you encounter, but have an idea of how and when, what you are going to shoot. Constantly see others work, get ideas, get more creative, push your vision. You may surprise yourself with what you come up with.
    “Automatic” shooting gives you automatically “nice” shots, not great / memorable shots.

Speak Your Mind