Words of Wisdom: Inspirational Quotes from the Greats of Photography

Today we want to do something a little bit different. We often try to provide you with inspiration to make you want to capture images, and we normally do that with our own pictures or pictures from photographers who inspire us.

Today, though, we want to inspire you with words.

Below is a selection of quotes from photographers that we hope will inspire you.



It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”  – Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898 – 1995) a renowned WWII photojournalist who captured the world-famous image, V-J Day in Times Square (Better known as The Kiss).


Wherever there is light, one can photograph.” – Alfred Stieglitz (1864 – 1946) Stieglitz was an American photographer internationally recognised as being a pioneer of modern photography.


You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Ansel Adams (1902-1984) was one of the founding members of the photography group f/64. His landscape work has been widely reproduced all over the world.

Also from Adams;

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

[Being] A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

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


I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.” Ellen Von Unwerth (1954).

Unwerth is known for her distinctively erotic style of fashion photography. She has shot for a number of high-profile fashion magazines, such as Vogue.


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 (1928).

Erwitt is a master of capturing ‘The Decisive Moment’; his street photography is known for its heart-warming charm.

Also from Erwitt:

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


I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.” Ernst Haas (1921 – 1986) was one of the first photographers to use colour in his work. His impressive career included becoming President of Magnum Photos, and publishing one of the most successful photography books ever, The Creation.


My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain.” Helmut Newton (1920 – 2004). Newton’s sexually charged fashion photography remains influential to this day.


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 (1908 – 2004).

Cartier-Bresson is widely regarded as one of the greatest photographers of all time. He is known as the father of photojournalism, and coined the term ‘The Decisive Moment’.


If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” Robert Capa (1913 – 1954).

Capa was a Hungarian photojournalist known for his war photography. He is perhaps best known for photographing key events during World War II, including the D-Day landings.


The eye should learn to listen before it looks.” Robert Frank (1924).

Frank is best known for his book, The Americans, which was very influential, providing an outsider’s view of American society.


“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” — Edward Steichen (1879 – 1973). Steichen is credited as being one of the world’s first fashion photographers, and for a time was one of the most highly paid photographers in the world.


“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” — Diane Arbus (1923 – 1971) is notable for her work photographing marginalised peoples such as dwarfs, nudists, transgender people, and circus performers.


“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” — Karl Lagerfeld (1933).

Lagerfeld is best known for his work as the creative director of the fashion house, Chanel.


“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” Steve McCurry (1950).

McCurry is best known for his piece, Afghan Girl which appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985.


“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 (1948)

Meiselas is best known for her works of social commentaries, such as her images of war-torn Nicaragua or her pictures of refugees currently living in the UK.

By |2018-01-31T14:37:08+00:00June 29th, 2017|blog, Masters of Photography,