Photography Quotes

 


Alfred Eisenstadt

It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.


Ansel Adams

The negative is the score, the print is the performance.

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

In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.

You don’t take a photograph, you make it.

A good photograph is knowing where to stand.

A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.

A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.

A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.

When I’m ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I’m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.


Diane Arbus

My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.

A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.

And the revelation was a little like what saints receive on mountains Рa further chapter in the  history of the mystery.

The condition of photographing is maybe the condition of being on the brink of conversion to anything.

We stand on a precipice, then before a chasm, and as we wait it becomes higher, wider, deeper, but I am crazy enough to think it doesn’t matter which way we leap because when we leap we will have learned to fly. Is that blasphemy or faith?

Love involves a peculiar unfathomable combination of understanding and misunderstanding.

Most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats.

Lately I’ve been struck with how I really love what you can’t see in a photograph. An actual physical darkness. And it’s very thrilling for me to see darkness again.

One thing I would never photograph is a dog lying in the mud.

It would be beautiful to photograph the winners of everything from Nobel to booby prize, clutching trophy, or money or certificate, solemn or smiling or tear stained or bloody, on the precarious pinnacle of the human landscape.

The thing that’s important to know is that you never know. You’re always sort of feeling your way.

The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.

I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do – that was one of my favorite things about it, and when I first did it, I felt very perverse.

I never have taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.

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

I work from awkwardness. By that I mean I don’t like to arrange things. If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself.

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.

Nothing is ever the same as they said it was.

The more specific you are, the more general it’ll be.

The thing that’s important to know is that you never know. You’re always sort of feeling your way.

There are an awful lot of people in the world and it’s going to be terribly hard to photograph all of them… It was my teacher Lisette Model who finally made it clear to me that the more specific you are, the more general it will be.

These are characters in a fairy tale for grown-ups. Wouldn’t it be lovely? Yes.

What moves me about…what’s called technique…is that it comes from some mysterious deep place. I mean it can have something to do with the paper and the developer and all that stuff, but it comes mostly from some very deep choices somebody has made that take a long time and keep haunting them.

Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory.


Elliott Erwitt

You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.

Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times. I just shoot at what interests me at that moment

After following the crowd for a while, I’d then go 180 degrees in the exact opposite direction. It always worked for me, but then again, I’m very lucky. Elliott Erwitt, on getting a different picture.

Quality doesn’t mean deep blacks and whatever tonal range. That’s not quality, that’s a kind of quality. The pictures of Robert Frank might strike someone as being sloppy–the tone range isn’t right and things like that–but they’re far superior to the pictures of Ansel Adams with regard to quality, because the quality of Ansel Adams, if I may say so, is essentially the quality of a postcard. But the quality of Robert Frank is a quality that has something to do with what he’s doing, what his mind is. It’s not balancing out the sky to the sand and so forth. It’s got to do with intention.

Making pictures is a very simple act. There is no great secret in photography…schools are a bunch of crap. You just need practice and application of what you’ve learned. My absolute conviction is that if you are working reasonably well the only important thing is to keep shooting…it doesn’t matter whether you are making money or not. Keep working, because as you go through the process of working things begin to happen.

Now very often events are set up for photographers … The weddings are orchestrated about the photographers taking the picture, because if it hasn’t been photographed it doesn’t really exist. –

You have to devote yourself totally to be successful at it.

Balance of light is the problem, not the amount. Balance between shadows and highlights determines where the emphasis goes in the picture…make sure the major light in a picture falls at right angles to the camera.

If you keep your cool, you’ll get everything.

I wasn’t imposing my presence on anyone, which is very important for a would- be journalist. I stayed back. Always let people be themselves.

The advice I would give to any photographer – young, old or in-between – is to explore anything visual because this is, after all, how you express your artistry. Look at paintings, movies, drawings, sculptures – look at anything visual and try to integrate that into your visual sense. After that, go out and take pictures and keep on taking pictures! -Elliott Erwitt, On the Question: “What advice would you give to a young photographer starting out today?” Interview with Erwitt at http://www.milkphoto.com/elliott_converse.shtm


Henri Cartier Bresson

Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.

Actually, I’m not all that interested in the subject of photography. Once the picture is in the box, I’m not all that interested in what happens next. Hunters, after all, aren’t cooks.

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.

In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody.

It seems dangerous to be a portrait artist who does commissions for clients because everyone wants to be flattered, so they pose in such a way that there’s nothing left of truth.

He made me suddenly realize that photographs could reach eternity through the moment.

In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little, human detail can become a Leitmotiv.

One has to tiptoe lightly and steal up to one’s quarry; you don’t swish the water when you are fishing.

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.

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.

The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are photographing rocks! -Henri Cartier-Bresson, during the 1930’s

Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing a meditation.

Photography appears to be an easy activity; in fact it is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is in the instrument.

Inside movement there is one moment in which the elements are in balance. Photography must seize the importance of this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it.

I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung up and ready to pounce, determined to ‘trap’ life – to preserve life in the act of living. Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.

Only a fraction of the camera’s possibilities interests me – the marvelous mixture of emotion and geometry, together in a single instant.

I’m not responsible for my photographs. Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience. It’s drowning yourself, dissolving yourself, and then sniff, sniff, sniff – being sensitive to coincidence. You can’t go looking for it; you can’t want it, or you won’t get it. First you must lose your self. Then it happens.

This recognition, in real life, of a rhythm of surfaces, lines, and values is for me the essence of photography; composition should be a constant of preoccupation, being a simultaneous coalition – an organic coordination of visual elements.

What reinforces the content of a photograph is the sense of rhythm – the relationship between shapes and values.

The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.

To take photographs means to recognize — simultaneously and within a fraction of a second — both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.

And no photographs taken with the aid of flash light, either, if only out of respect for the actual light – even when there isn’t any of it.

Photography is nothing — it’s life that interests me.

To me photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second the significance of an event, as well as the precise organization the forms that give that event its proper expression.”

There is no closed figure in nature. Every shape participates with another. No one thing is independent of another, and one thing rhymes with another, and light gives them shape.

As time passes by and you look at portraits, the people come back to you like a silent echo. A photograph is a vestige of a face, a face in transit. Photography has something to do with death. It’s a trace.

 


Richard Avedon

I think all art is about control – the encounter between control and the uncontrollable.

I always prefer to work in the studio. It isolates people from their environment. They become in a sense… symbolic of themselves. I often feel that people come to me to be photographed as they would go to a doctor or a fortune teller – to find out how they are.

My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph.

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.

A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.

I don’t really remember the day when I stood behind my camera with Henry Kissinger on the other side. I am sure he doesn’t remember it either. But this photograph is here now to prove that no amount of kindness on my part could make this photograph mean exactly what he.. or even I.. wanted it to mean. It’s a reminder of the wonder and terror that is a photograph.

A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he’s being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks. He’s implicated in what’s happening, and he has a certain real power over the result.

A portrait photographer depends upon another person to complete his picture. The subject imagined, which in a sense is me, must be discovered in someone else willing to take part in a fiction he cannot possibly know about.

Photography has always reminded me of the second child, trying to prove itself. The fact that it wasn’t really considered an art.. that it was considered a craft.. has trapped almost every serious photographer.

I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible.

 


Robert Capa

It’s not always easy to stand aside and be unable to do anything except record the sufferings around one.


Robert Doisneau

A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there – even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity.

I’m not a collector at heart. I’m never tormented by the longing to possess things. I’m quite happy with my pictures. I’ve been cohabiting with them for years now and we know each other inside out, so I feel I’m entitled to say that pictures have a life and a character of their own. Maybe they’re like plants they won’t really flourish unless you talk to them. I haven’t gone that far – not yet anyway. Lots of them behave like good little girls and give me a nice smile whenever I walk past, but others are real bitches and never miss any opportunity to ruin my life. I handle them with kid gloves. Three Seconds of Eternity

If I knew how to take a good photograph, I’d do it every time.

You’ve got to struggle against the pollution of intelligence in order to become an animal with very sharp instincts – a sort of intuitive medium – so that to photograph becomes a magical act, and slowly other more suggestive images begin to appear behind the visible image, for which the photographer cannot be held responsible.


Walker Evans

Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.

 


Dirk Bogarde

The camera can photograph thought. It’s better than a paragraph of sweet polemic.