25 Inspirational Photography Quotes

25 Inspirational Photography Quotes

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.

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All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted. 

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted.

As cheesy as it may sound, quotes have had a profound impact on my life. In general, a good quote can can become a mantra that gets me through hard times, changes my perspective, or motivates me to make life-changing decisions. Here a few of my favorite photography quotes and what they mean to me.

Diane Arbus | Documentary Photographer 

As a street photographer, Diane Arbus captured elements of humanity often ignored or overlooked. Photography tells the stories of the people and places we don’t want to see, but also captures the beauty of life’s fleeting moments.

Diane Arbus Quote Over Black and White Documentary Street Photography
Diane Arbus Quote Over Black and White Documentary Street Photography

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

Diane Arbus

Richard Avedon | Fashion Photographer

Photography has become a part of my identity, a source of stress relief, pride, and fulfilment; without it, something feels missing.

"And if a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up. I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible."

Richard Avedon

Steve McCurry | Documentary Photographer 

"I think life is too short not to be doing something which you really believe in. Whether you're photographing for yourself, for your job, whether you photograph on the weekends or everyday or once in a while, the main point is having fun and to be exercising your curiosity and to be really in love with what you are doing."

Steve McCurry

Alfred Stieglitz | Pioneer Of Photography As Art 

Has the statement “wow, your camera takes great photos” offended you? It’s an insult because photography is a skill that takes years of practice; it’s not the camera that takes good photos, it’s the photographer. 

“The ability to make a truly artistic photograph is not acquired off-hand, but is the result of an artistic instinct coupled with years of labor.”

Alfred Stieglitz

Edward Weston | Nature Photographer 

Photography doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, there is beauty in the simple things. 

"Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual."

Edward Weston

Robert Capa | Photojournalist and War Photographer 

This is one of the first photography quotes I every heard which influenced me to become a macro photographer. I didn’t think my photos were good enough, so I kept getting closer. Getting closer removes clutter and places a stronger emphasis on the subject. This applies to any subject not just macro photography.

Robert Capa Quote Over Flower Macro Photography
Robert Capa Quote Over Flower Macro Photography

"If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough."

Robert Capa

Imogen Cunningham | Floral and Street Photographer 

You don’t have to meet a certain criterion to consider yourself a talented photographer; you are the creator and you decide what makes a good photo.

"I never divide photographers into creative and uncreative, I just call them photographers. Who is creative? How do you know who is creative or not?."

Imogen Cunningham

Elliott Erwitt | Documentary Photographer 

“Photography is an art of observation - it's about creating something extraordinary out of the ordinary. You choose a frame and then wait until the right time for something magical to come along and fill it.”

Elliott Erwitt

Alfred Eisenstaedt | Photojournalist

Always remain curious.

"Once the amateur’s naïve approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur"

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Paul Strand | Modernist Photographer

This quote became especially meaningful during COVID-19. I used to think I needed to travel far and wide in order to create meaningful art, but COVID forced me to learn to appreciate the beauty in my own home and city.

"The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep."

Paul Strand

Ansel Adams | Landscape Photographer

Photographers spend a lifetime building a portfolio that makes a difference. The vast majority of your photos may be good, but you may only create a few masterpieces in a lifetime and that is ok.

Ansel Adams Quote over image of Yosemite National Park
Ansel Adams Quote over image of Yosemite National Park

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”

Ansel Adams

Ted Grant | Photojournalist

Black and white photography removes the distraction color creates and forces the viewer to focus on the characteristics of the scene. 

“When you photograph a man in color, you photograph his clothes. When you photograph a man in black & white, you photograph his soul.”

Ted Grant

Ernst Haas | Photojournalist

Don’t take pictures you think others will like. Shoot for yourself and don’t get caught in the validation trap. 

“Every work of art has its necessity, find out your very own. Ask yourself if you would do it if nobody would ever see it, if you would never be compensated for it, if nobody ever wanted it. If you come to a clear “yes,” in spite of it, then go ahead and don’t doubt it anymore.”

Ernst Haas

Henri Cartier-Bresson | Street Photographer

Bourgeois is a characteristic of the middle class, or as I interpret it in this context–bland and unoriginal. Don’t be afraid to explore unconventional methods, including the use of motion and blur.

“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept."

Henri Cartier-Bresson

David Alan Harvey | Contemporary Photographer

Good photography invokes emotion and you create a mood even when people aren’t the subject. 

"Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like."

David Alan Harvey

Tim Walker | Fashion Photographer

Tim Walker Quote Over An Eagle Headshot
Tim Walker Quote Over An Eagle Headshot

"Only photograph what you love."

Tim Walker

Miguel Syjuco | Journalist

On the surface this quote is telling you to move around and shoot from different angles, but it also feels like a metaphor for life. 

"Sometimes one waits too long for the perfect moment before snapping the picture. You never realize that you needed was to change perspective."

Miguel Syjuco

Andy Warhol | Artist and Filmmaker

Photography stops time and allows us to re-live moments long after the people or experiences are gone.

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

Andy Warhol

David Bailey | Portrait Photographer

It takes a special skill to transform ordinary objects into a masterpiece.

"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

Annie Leibovitz | Portrait Photographer

"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

Marc Riboud | Documentary Photographer

Photographers absorb every detail in their environment when they search for photo opportunities. 

Marc Riboud Quote Over Sun Rising In The Mountains
Marc Riboud Quote Over Sun Rising In The Mountains

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”

Marc Riboud

Bill Brandt | Nude Photographer

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

Bill Brandt

Berenice Abbott | Architecture Photographer

"The more you do, the more you realize there is to do, what a vast object the metropolis is, and how the work of photographing could go on forever."

Berenice Abbott

Aaron Siskind | Abstract Photographer

The beauty of photography is turning the ordinary into something extraordinary. Capture the details of light, textures, or colors brings attention to everyday objects and creates striking images even with seemingly mundane subjects.

"Every object, to me is a very alive thing. In Gloucester, one summer, the rocks began to seem so animate I could hardly bear to walk over them."

Aaron Siskind

Michael Kenna | Modern Black & White Landscape Photographer

One thing I love the most about photography is it forces me to slow down and appreciate the little things. In search of interesting photos I take the time I observe details others miss and it improves the experience for me. 

"Getting photographs is not the most important thing. For me it's the act of photographing. It's enlightening, therapeutic and satisfying, because the very process forces me to connect with the world. When you make four-hour exposures in the middle of the night, you inevitably slow down and begin to observe and appreciate more what's going on around you. In our fast-paced, modern world, it's a luxury to be able to watch the stars move across the sky."

Michael Kenna

Author Bio

Author Bio Image

Delaney is a project manager by day and a travel and wildlife photographer by night who is using her skills for translating complex technical language into easy to understand concepts to make photography achievable at all skill levels. You have questions; she has answers.

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