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‘The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera’ – 200 inspiring quotes on World Photography Day

Madanmohan Rao
19th Aug 2018
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From daguerreotypes to digital imaging, photography has come a long way. Here are 200 quotes that capture how photography is art, journalism, activism, craft and creativity – and much more.

Compiled from dozens of photography sites and YourStory’s own PhotoSparks series of photo essays, here are 200 witty and powerful quotes that capture the beauty, mission, impact, and techniques of good photography.

Smartphones have now made everyone a photographer, and with the joy of having a camera comes the responsibility of purpose and integrity. Digital photos power much of the visual appeal of the Internet today and bring sights and scenes from around the world into the palms of our hands.

Photography exhibitions have been effective in raising awareness about marine conservation, wildlife preservation, medical ailments, and human rights. Photographs help bring the creativity of art galleries, exhibitions and murals to a wider audience, and shine the spotlight on the teams of entrepreneurs who drive innovation.

As shown in the 20 photos in this article, photographs can increase awareness about heritage and tradition, while also showing the way to the future. Who would ever have thought that one day, photographs of our eyes and fingers would be tied to our unique digital identities?

Let these 200 quotes inspire you to have fun with your camera and also awaken you to the power of photography, as new technologies, tools and platforms like drones continue to power cameras literally to new heights. The ‘Kodak moment’ has now been replaced by ‘Instagrammable’ occasions, as photo-sharing becomes ubiquitous and even obsessive. From the personal to the professional, these quotes, presented in alphabetical order, offer advice, humour, philosophy and much more.

Share with us your own favourite quotes about photography, and click back to our PhotoSparks section for over 225 photo essays celebrating entrepreneurship, creativity, art and innovation.

A camera is a SAVE button for the mind’s eye. – Roger Kingston

A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera. – Dorthea Lange

A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. – Irving Penn

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

A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away. – Eudora Welty

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

A photograph is a moral decision taken in one–eighth of a second. – Salman Rushdie

A photograph is memory in the raw. – Carrie Latet

A picture is worth a thousand words. – Arthur Brisbane

All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth. – Richard Avedon

All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice. – Elliott Erwitt

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

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

Art is the highest task and the proper metaphysical activity of this life. – Friedrich Nietzsche

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

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

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

Black and white are the colours of photography. To me they symbolise the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected. – Robert Frank

Creativity needs to extend beyond the lens. Find creative ways to showcase your work and get it seen. – Jimmy Chin

Digital photography has made every man, woman, child and chimpanzee a photographer of sorts. – Elliott Erwitt

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

Every viewer is going to get a different thing. That's the thing about painting, photography, cinema. – David Lynch

For me, documentary photography has always come with great responsibility. Not just to tell the story honestly and with empathy, but also to make sure the right people hear it. – Giles Duley

For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity. – Henri Cartier–Bresson

God creates the beauty. My camera and I are a witness. – Mark Denman

Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field. – Peter Adams

How do we start taking pictures of people, and stop taking pictures of poses? – Justin and Mary Marantz

I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new. – Ernst Haas

I began to realise that the camera sees the world differently than the human eye and that sometimes those differences can make a photograph more powerful than what you actually observed. – Galen Rowell

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

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

I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them. – Bruce Gilden

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

I take the same picture twice, first with my heart then camera. – Biju Karakkonam

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

I think of photography like therapy. – Harry Gruyaert

I think that's the strength of photography – to decide the decisive moment, to click in the moment to come up with a picture that never comes back again. – Rene Burri

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

I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of place could be photographed. – Annie Leibovitz

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

If I am successful, the photograph reveals the underbelly, the overlooked and the under– appreciated. – Tom Baril

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

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

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

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

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

It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness. – Paul Strand

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

It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours. – James Lalropui Keivom

It's not enough to just own a camera. Everyone owns a camera. To be a photographer you must understand, appreciate and harness the power you hold! – Mark Denman

Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment. – Ansel Adams

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

Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera. – Yousuf Karsh

Look at lots of exhibitions and books, and don't get hung up on cameras and technical things. Photography is about images. – Fay Godwin

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

My interest in photography is not to capture an image I see or even have in my mind, but to explore the potential of moments I can only begin to imagine. – Lois Greenfield

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

My own eyes are no more than scouts on a preliminary search, or the camera's eye may entirely change my idea. – Edward Weston

My pictures are about making people realise we've got to protect those who can't speak for themselves. – Michael "Nick" Nichols

No matter how sophisticated the camera, the photographer is still the one that makes it. – Doug Bartlow

No place is boring if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and a pocket full of unexposed film. – Robert Adams

Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information. – Man Ray

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

Only photography has been able to divide human life into a series of moments, each of them has the value of a complete existence. – Eadweard Muybridge

Perception isn’t reality, it’s the only reality. – Amy and Jordan Demos

Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art. – Ambrose Bierce

Photographers don't take pictures. They create images. – Mark Denman

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

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

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

Photography does not create eternity, as art does; it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption. – Andre Bazin

Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures. – Don McCullin

Photography gives you the opportunity to use your sensibility and everything you are to say something about and be part of the world around you. In this way, you might discover who you are, and with a little luck, you might discover something much larger than yourself. – Peter Lindbergh

Photography has no rules, it is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved. – Bill Brandt

Photography has nothing to do with cameras. – Lucas Gentry

Photography helps people to see. – Berenice Abbott

Photography is a craft. Anyone can learn a craft with normal intelligence and application. To take it beyond the craft is something else. That’s when magic comes in. And I don’t know that there’s any explanation for that. – Elliott Erwitt

Photography is a kind of virtual reality, and it helps if you can create the illusion of being in an interesting world. – Steven Pinker

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

Photography is a love affair with life. – Burk Uzzle

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

Photography is a strong tool, a propaganda device, and a weapon for the defense of the environment...and therefore for the fostering of a healthy human race and even very likely for its survival. – Eliot Porter

Photography is about capturing souls not smiles. – Dragan Tapshanov

Photography is an austere and blazing poetry of the real. – Ansel Adams

Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation. – Henri Cartier–Bresson

Photography is an itch that won't go away. No matter how much you scratch it. – Dara McGrath

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

Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art. – 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. – Peter Adams

Photography is the beauty of life captured. – Tara Chisolm

Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work. – Martin Parr

Photography is the story I fail to put into words. – Destin Sparks

Photography is truth. – Jean–Luc Godard

Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man. – Edward Steichen

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. – Dorothea Lange

Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution. – Ansel Adams

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

Regarding the creative: never assume you're the master, only the student. Your audience will determine if you're masterful. – Don Roff

Results are uncertain even among the more experienced photographers. – Matthew Brady

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

Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase. – Percy W. Harris

Some days you just get lucky… Other days you wait patiently for luck to happen. – Destin Sparks

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

Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long. – Walker Evans

Taking a picture is like giving a piece of your soul away. You allow other people to see the world through your eyes. – Katja Michael

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

Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second. – Marc Riboud

The advent of the digital age and the immediacy and convenience of digital video and photography allows people to become an integral part of the feedback loop which actively shapes the content we are fed. – Damian Loeb

The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer. – Steven Pinker

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

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

The camera adds a certain sheen to things. Something about being frozen in time really makes things sparkle. – Brandon Stanton

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

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

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. – Dorothea Lange

The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world. – Orson Welles

The camera makes you forget you're there. It's not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much. – Annie Leibovitz

The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it? – Edward Weston

The eye should learn to listen before it looks. – Robert Frank

The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each to himself. And that is the most complicated thing on earth. – Edward Steichen

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

The more you photograph, the more you realize what can and what can’t be photographed. You just have to keep doing it. – Eliot Porter

The painter constructs, the photographer discloses. – Susan Sontag

The photographer does the world a great disservice when he leaves his camera at home. – Mark Denman

The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality. – Scott Lorenzo

The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer. – Gordon Parks

The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new. – William Thackeray

The way that light hits objects, I think, is one of the more important things that sculpture and photography share. – Rashid Johnson

The whole nature of photography has changed with the advent of a camera in everybody's hand. – Sally Mann

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. – Ansel Adams

There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes. – Abraham Lincoln

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. – Ansel Adams

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

There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment. – Robert Frank

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

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

There’s a time when people say your work is revolutionary, but you have to keep being revolutionary. You have to keep changing, keep pushing yourself, looking for the new, the unusual. – Rankin

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

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

Today everything exists to end in a photograph. – Susan Sontag

We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us. – Ralph Hattersley

We don’t learn from our good images; we learn from the ones that can be improved on. – Jen Rozenbaum

What do we feel when we look at a good photograph? We just want to be there, right at the exact moment that photo taken! – Mehmet Murat Ildan

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

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

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

When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear. – Alfred Eisenstaedt

When I make a photograph I feel that I hold a piece of the universe in my hands. – Paul Chaplo

When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things. – Wynn Bullock

When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice. – Robert Frank

When the world asks, "What was it like?" only the photographer can say "See! – Mark Denman

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

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

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. – Walker Evans

'Which of my photographs is my favorite?’ The one I'm going to take tomorrow. – Imogen Cunningham

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see. – Dorothea Lange

Whosoever possesses a camera should never know boredom. – Wayne Gerard Trotman

With photography a new language has been created. Now for the first time it is possible to express reality by reality. We can look at an impression as long as we wish, we can delve into it and, so to speak, renew past experiences at will. – Ernst Haas

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

You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life. – Joan Miro

You cannot possibly hit the shutter without leaving a piece of you in the image. – Joe Buissink

You don't take a photograph, you make it. – Ansel Adams

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

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. – Henri Cartier–Bresson

Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees. – Paul Strand

Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

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