They are some of the most famous names in photography. Over the years their images have captivated and inspired us photographers. But they also had a way with words. These famous quotes by some of the most influential figures in photography can teach us so much. So here are 10 famous photography quotes to help inspire you to become a better photographer.
“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
First up is one of the most famous quotes by the master himself Ansel Adams. For all of the rules and techniques that are talked about, really this quote sums up the only thing you need to know. That it doesn’t really matter how you get there. A great photo is a great photo and that is all the matters. This also extends to post-processing. So if anyone ever tries to tell you that it’s cheating or that your photos don’t fit the “rules”, quote this famous line from Ansel Adams.
“Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gizmos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.”
This is one for anyone who has ever blamed their camera or the accessories for a bad photo. Even the most expensive high-end camera cannot automatically transform poor photos to great ones. For sure good equipment will make the quality of your images better. But it can never compose your image or consider the lighting that would make a great photo. So worry less about your camera gear and spend more on practising and learning how to take great photos.
“I think life is too short not to be doing something which you really believe in.”
Arguably the most famous documentary photographer of recent years, Steve McCurry’s photos are amongst the most widely recognized in the world. This quote is not only about following your passion, but also photographing subjects and scenarios that you love. Because the more you believe in something, the more effort and dedication you will put in which will reflect in your photos.
Percy W. Harris
“Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.”
Another famous quote that highlights the importance of practising your craft rather than worrying about buying new equipment. The great thing about photography is that the more you practice the better you will become at it. You can train yourself to see compositions in your mind and pre-visualise the shot before you even lift your camera. So keep practising.
“No place is boring if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and a pocket full of unexposed film.”
There is sometimes a misconception that you need to fly to amazing destinations around the world to be able to capture stunning photos. The reality is that you can take great photos anywhere. Whether that is the city you live in, your local village or even a local park. The opportunities are there. You just have to be willing to get out there and take photos.
“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
Photography has the power to tell an entire story in just one image. As much as writing a description of that scenario can help tell a story it can never have the same impact as an iconic photo. These stories are what makes each person’s photo unique. They are also what can transform an ordinary scene into an extraordinary story.
“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”
Another great quote from Peter Adams which highlights the importance of worrying less about settings and rules and more about the actual photo. The connection with the person you are photographing, the atmosphere or the feeling of the scene is more important than what your settings are. Of course, that is not to say that your settings are not important at all because after all you still need to ensure that your photos are sharp for example. This is more to get you to really think about the photo.
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”
One of my favourite quotes and one that really helped me in my early days as a photographer. By far, the most common feedback I give on my workshops and tours is for my students to get closer to their subject when taking a photo. Often the reason for being far away is simply shyness and a fear of being caught photographing that person. But the reality is that getting closer will not only ensure you capture a better photo but also ensures that you build a much better connection. So as Robert Capa puts it, get closer if you want better photos.
“Your first 1,000 photographs are your worst.”
I look back at my early work and it is pretty clear that I have improved since then. I’m sure every photographer will tell you the same thing. The more photos you take and the more photographic challenges you have to overcome the better you will become as a photographer. But this quote is also true when you first get to a location as well. Often my best photos from any shoot are never my first ones. But rather a few later ones were taken when I have had more time to think about the composition. So try never to rush your photos, instead take your time.
“We don’t learn from our good images; we learn from the ones that can be improved on.”
This is such a great habit to get into especially at the start of your photography journey. Don’t get despondent about your failures. Instead, learn from them to ensure that you don’t make those same mistakes again. Remember even seasoned pros made mistakes when they started.
Photography is like any other skill. With practice and failure comes learning and ultimately improvement. Use the quotes above as an inspiration to push you to become a better photographer.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.