99 Inspirational Photography Quotes

Staying motivated and inspired is crucial for a photographer’s long-term growth. It’s far more important than having good gear or perfect lighting. After all, if you feel unmotivated, your expensive equipment will lie untouched, collecting dust while you make excuses for why you’re not shooting any photos today.

When you’re inspired, you push yourself to practice more, overcome challenges, and work hard to get stunning images. You get up early for a golden hour sunrise shot and stay up late shooting the night sky. And, all the while, you’re loving it.

Some photographers get excited about composition, while others geek out on technical skills. But all diehard photographers share one thing in common: a passion for the art of creating photos.

Every photographer discovers their passion in a different way. Maybe you started snapping photos with a toy camera as a child, or maybe you accidentally fell into photography when you started photographing your own children. However you started the journey, it’s important to feed your inspiration so you don’t lose that joy.

Some photographers keep up their spirits by finding a quote they connect with. Then, on a day when they’re struggling, they look at that quote and rediscover their passion. If the quote ever loses its power, they find a different quote that expresses their new way of viewing photography.

Here is a list of 99 inspirational photography quotes from successful photographers and artists from a range of backgrounds. Hopefully their words of wisdom will inspire you to work harder and become the photographer you’ve always wanted to be.

Quotes for Beginner Photographers

If you’ve just started taking photos, these quotes can give you direction and encouragement to keep trying, learning, and growing as a photographer.

photography quote percy harris

“If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no shortcuts in photography.”
– Edward Weston

“I guess I’ve shot about 40,000 negatives and of these I have about 800 pictures I like.”
– Harry Callahan

“What I have learnt and what I teach now is all about experimentation and learning to pick yourself up and try again when you fall down.”
– Lara Jade

“A lot of photographers think that if they buy a better camera they’ll be able to take better photographs. A better camera won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart.”
– Arnold Newman

“You know, I really don’t think you learn from teachers. You learn from work. I think what you learn, really, is how to be- you have to be your own toughest critic, and you only learn that from work, from seeing work.”
– Garry Winogrand

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as teaching people photography, other than influencing them a little. People have to be their own learners. They have to have a certain talent.”
– Imogen Cunningham

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”
– Ernst Haas

“To me, it is better to ‘guess’ at how something works, experiment, fail, guess again, fail, and keep repeating that process over and over again until you either figure it out or you discover a multiplicity of other cool tricks along the way.”
– Trey Ratcliff

“As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs.”
– Sam Abell

“There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson

Quotes for Experienced Photographers

One danger of having years of experience is that you can find yourself in a rut. These quotes can push you out of your comfort zone and inspire you to tackle a new challenge.

photography quote imogen cunningham

“There’s a time when people say your work is revolutionary, but you have to keep being revolutionary. I can’t keep shooting pop stars all my life. You have to keep changing, keep pushing yourself, looking for the new, the unusual.”
– Rankin

“Creativity needs to extend beyond the lens. Find creative ways to showcase your work and get it seen. Straight up tenacity, hard work and determination will always be part of the equation, so get to it.”
– Jimmy Chin

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”
– Cecil Beaton

“If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.”
– Garry Winogrand

“Allow yourself the freedom to step away from perfection because it is only then that you can find success.”
– Chase Jarvis

“Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.”
– William Klein

“I think all art is about control – the encounter between control and the uncontrollable.”
– Richard Avedon

“I treat the photograph as a work of great complexity in which you can find drama. Add to that a careful composition of landscapes, live photography, the right music and interviews with people, and it becomes a style.”
– Ken Burns

“Photography can never grow up if it imitates some other medium. It has to walk alone; it has to be itself.”
– Berenice Abbott

Good One-Liners

These quotes are short enough to memorize, but they might also look great on a t-shirt, mug, or scrap of paper, tucked in your camera bag.

photography quote alfred eisenstaedt

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
– Ansel Adams

“I think good dreaming is what leads to good photographs.”
– Wayne Miller

“The best camera is the one that’s with you.”
– Chase Jarvis

“If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photograph.”
– Bruce Gilden

“Don’t pack up your camera until you’ve left the location.”
– Joe McNally

“Only photograph what you love.”
— Tim Walker

“Twelve significant photographs in one year is a good crop.”
– Ansel Adams

“There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.”
– Robert Heinecken

“The more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer.”
– Robert Mapplethorpe

“Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn’t photogenic.”
– Edward Weston

“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.”
– Eudora Welty

“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.”
– Dorothea Lange

On Photographing People

Whether you’re an amateur street photographer or a professional wedding photographer, you probably have some experience taking portraits. If you want your next batch of portraits to be even better, these quotes can point you in the right direction.

photography quote Robert Frank

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like; it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
– Paul Caponigro

“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”
– Annie Leibovitz

“I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.”
– Ellen Von Unwerth

“It doesn’t matter if you’re photographing a porter in a market in Marrakech or you’re photographing the king of Morroco. You have the same sympathetic approach to everybody. You be nice to everybody, basically.”
– Albert Watson

“When you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes. When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their soul!”
– Ted Grant

“If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”
– Eve Arnold

Clever Photography Quotes

These quotes can make you smile with their witty expression of an idea.

photography quote bill brandt

“I shutter to think how many people are underexposed and lacking depth in this field.”
– Rick Steves

“Best wide-angle lens? Two steps backward. Look for the ‘ah-ha’.”
– Ernst Haas

“Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure.”
– Tony Benn

“To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.”
– Edward Weston

“I never have taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.”
— Diane Arbus

Travel + Photography

It’s hard to say which comes first: travel or photography. Traveling can make you want to take photos, but photography can also make you want to get out and explore the world. Either way, the two are a perfect combo.

photography quote miroslav tichy

“If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”
– Jim Richardson

“I fell in love with the process of taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.”
– Alec Soth

“A lot of people think that when you have grand scenery, such as you have in Yosemite, that photography must be easy.”
– Galen Rowell

“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

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

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”
– Ansel Adams

“If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.”
– Jay Maisel

“There will be times when you will be in the field without a camera. And, you will see the most glorious sunset or the most beautiful scene that you have ever witnessed. Don’t be bitter because you can’t record it. Sit down, drink it in, and enjoy it for what it is!”
– DeGriff

Praise for “Boring” Subjects

Though traveling is a fun way to experience photography, it’s not necessary. In fact, as the following quotes point out, you can find as much beauty at home, if not more.

photography quotes

“Quit trying to find beautiful objects to photograph. Find the ordinary objects so you can transform it by photographing it.”
– Morley Baer

“Anyone can shoot chaos. But the most perceptive photographers can make compelling pictures out of uninteresting moments.”
– Alex Tehrani

“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

“Photograph the world as it is. Nothing’s more interesting than reality.”
– Mary Ellen Mark

“It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get.”
– Timothy Allen

“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
– Matt Hardy

“You just have to live and life will give you pictures.”
– Henri Cartier Bresson

Words vs. Pictures

It’s not hard to guess which side photographers are on.

photography quote Gilles Peress

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
– Arthur Brisbane

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
— Ansel Adams

“Photography is a language more universal than words.”
– Minor White

“Since I’m inarticulate, I express myself with images.”
– Helen Levitt

Making Your Photography Meaningful

If you find yourself obsessing about how your photos look, here are some quotes to push you beyond the aesthetics to something more meaningful.

photography quote

“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”
– David Alan Harvey

“A good photographer records; a great photographer reveals.”
– Skyler Reid

“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective.”
— Irving Penn

“Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.”
– Sally Mann

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second of the significance of an event.”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Photography can light up darkness and expose ignorance.”
– Lewis Hine

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
– Alfred Stieglitz

“Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.”
– Garry Winogrand

“Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.”
– W. Eugene Smith

“If you have something to say with a camera then show it, otherwise it’s better to bake a cake.”
– Jason Eskenazi

“Images of people, cities, and landscapes from the air tell a unique story about our personal space and how we relate to one another. I’ve always aimed to address the bigger picture and later trends. In many ways, what a photographer does is give others a chance to step back and look at their world and gain perspective on where we stand, and what that means.”
– Vincent Laforet

Quotes About Light

Light is at the heart of photography. You can get wrapped up in countless other details, but in the end, it all comes back to light.

photography quote Alfred Stieglitz

“I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical.”
– Trent Parke

“What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.”
– John Berger

“Where light and shadow fall on your subject – that is the essence of expression and art through photography.”
– Scott Bourne

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”
– George Eastman

Why We Love Photography

It can be hard to pinpoint what exactly drives us to shoot photos, but these photographers have given it a try.

photography quote Marc Riboud

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

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever. It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
— Aaron Siskind

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
— Andy Warhol

“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”
– Diane Arbus

“Photography is for me, a spontaneous impulse that comes from an ever-attentive eye, which captures the moment and its eternity.”
– Henri Cartier Bresson

“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”
— Ralph Hattersley

“The camera has always been a guide, and it’s allowed me to see things and focus on things that maybe an average person wouldn’t even notice.”
– Don Chadwick

“What it all boils down to for me is having the enthusiasm to do something for enjoyment and being stimulated by what’s around you. That’s what photography does for me.”
– Graeme Le Saux

“I went into photography because it seemed like the perfect vehicle for commenting on the madness of today’s existence.”
– Robert Mapplethorpe

“The camera adds a certain sheen to things. Something about being frozen in time really makes things sparkle.”
– Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York)

“I love photographing. It’s that simple.”
– Stuart Franklin

Hopefully these quotes inspire you to get out and take more photos!

photographer quote

Newsletter