Quotes Categories

Photography Quotes

I have often thought that if photography were difficult in the true sense of the term -- meaning that the creation of a simple photograph would entail as much time and effort as the production of a good watercolor or etching -- there would be a vast improvement in total output. The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster.

Author: Ansel Adams

Profession: American Painter

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

Author: Diane Arbus (1923-1971)

Profession: American Photographer

If I were just curious, it would be very hard to say to someone, ''I want to come to your house and have you talk to me and tell me the story of your life.'' I mean people are going to say, ''You're crazy.'' Plus they're going to keep mighty guarded. But the camera is a kind of license. A lot of people, they want to be paid that much attention and that's a reasonable kind of attention to be paid.

Author: Diane Arbus (1923-1971)

Profession: American Photographer

The virtue of the camera is not the power it has to transform the photographer into an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep on looking.

Author: Brooks Atkinson (1894-1984)

Profession: American Journalist, Drama Critic

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 ordinary.

Author: David Bailey (1938)

Profession: British Photographer

The photographic image... is a message without a code.

Author: Roland Barthes (1915-1980)

Profession: French Semiologist

If photography is allowed to stand in for art in some of its functions it will soon supplant or corrupt it completely thanks to the natural support it will find in the stupidity of the multitude. It must return to its real task, which is to be the servant of the sciences and the arts, but the very humble servant, like printing and shorthand which have neither created nor supplanted literature.

Author: Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

Profession: French Poet

Too many photographers try too hard. They try to lift photography into the realm of Art, because they have an inferiority complex about their Craft. You and I would see more interesting photography if they would stop worrying, and instead, apply horse-sense to the problem of recording the look and feel of their own era.

Author: Jessie Tarbox Beals


The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.

Author: Walter Benjamin (1982-1940)

Profession: German Critic, Philosopher

Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure.

Author: Tony Benn (1925)

Profession: British Labor Politician

All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this -- as in other ways -- they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it.

Author: John Berger (1926)

Profession: British Actor, Critic

The camera relieves us of the burden of memory. It surveys us like God, and it surveys for us. Yet no other god has been so cynical, for the camera records in order to forget.

Author: John Berger (1926)

Profession: British Actor, Critic

Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does.

Author: John Berger (1926)

Profession: British Actor, Critic

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

Author: Dirk Bogarde

Profession: British Actor, Author

The most refined skills of color printing, the intricate techniques of wide-angle photography, provide us pictures of trivia bigger and more real than life. We forget that we see trivia and notice only that the reproduction is so good. Man fulfils his dream and by photographic magic produces a precise image of the Grand Canyon. The result is not that he adores nature or beauty the more. Instead he adores his camera -- and himself.

Author: Daniel J. Boorstin (1914)

Profession: American Historian