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Famous Photography Quotes Worth Remembering

famous photography quotes

This section on famous photography quotes is my attempt at compiling some of the most interesting/funny/pertinent photography-related quotes that I've encountered. I'm always stumbling across, or hearing, these little nuggets of wisdom, that often crystallize important ideas much more economiclly than I'm able to.

So, hopefully this part of PAC will become your antidote to the, "what was that line again" feeling! Many of the quotes are from the mouths of well known photographers. Ever wondered what Henri Cartier-Bresson said about his method, or Ansel Adams thought about the nature of photography? Their words were often as well chosen as the moments they captured...

 

Famous Photography Quotes By Category

 

1. Taking pictures...

So first up, what's been said about the process of taking pictures. What makes a good picture? How much to the best photographers mess up...? These photography quotes are not just interesting in themselves, but provide some fantastic pointers, insights and reflections to draw from in your own work.

The Mind's Eye, by Henri Cartier Bresson

If you like short, sharp, insightful observations on photography, this little book should always be on hand! It's packed full of HCB's fascinating thoughts on taking pictures.

 

2. Capturing reality...

Most of us don't like the way we look in photos. But the problem is, we assume a photograph, unlike a painting, is the real thing. It seems like there's just no getting away from it, I really do look like that! The camera never lies...

Well, back up there a second, because anyone who takes a lot of pictures knows that isn't strictly true. How far does the camera, in fact, lie through its teeth, distort, and generally mislead (whether that's the photographer's intention or not). Interesting quotes by some interesting people.

 

3. Post processing...

Photoshop is cheating. Photoshop is simply a better, more convenient dark room. Photoshop always distorts what's caught in the camera. Photoshop improves/refines what's already in the picture. Agree/disagree/don't care etc. These are some cool quotes that have been on the subject.

 

4. Artists and writers on photography...

Photography is now cemented amongst the other visual arts, and plays a massive role in modern culture. I think it's one of the few forms of artistic expression that just about everybody engages in to some extent (although, granted, it's purpose is not always as art, i.e. holiday snaps!).

So I find it really interesting to keep an ear out for what writers and artists have to say about photography. How do they see it? What do photographs mean to them? Meaningless, throw-away records of the world, or skillfully created pieces of original art? Here's the collection.

On Photography, by Susan Sontag

My favourite book on the nature of photography is Susan Sontag's On Photography. It's brilliantly written and stands back to take a look at photography in a broad context.

 

5. Is photography art...?

Even I am slightly bored of this question to be honest! Popular impressions of photography are often slightly muddled by its sheer popularity. In essence the thought process is: Even I can take photos. It's easy. That's not art. Hmm. How about a browse through some Cartier-Bresson and Cappa; some Penn, Boubat or Karsh. Compare and contrast with holiday snaps.

That said, we've all seen so much great photography now, that many of us can't fail but to treat it with the highest respect. Here are some plain spoken thoughts on the subject of photography's artistic credentials.

 

You may also be interested in these famous photographer biographies and recommended photography books. Feel free to share any quotes that you know in the comments...

Where Next?

Famous Photographer List Genre

10 Famous Women Photographers

10 Famous Fashion Photographers

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