Five on Friday: Photography quotes


Yeah, I know it’s now Monday.

As you may already know, taking photos is one of my passions, one I’d do without any financial or material gains. Photography is a convenient artistic escape; at its purest, you need only please yourself. You need not conform to irrational “artistic rules” or subcultures imposed by society, your own self is your foremost critic and more importantly, your primary audience.

This explains why you can’t produce great work that lives up to the expectations of others without first satisfying your desires and standards. Here are five quotes on photography I’ve found essential in this artistic pursuit:

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

    Perhaps this is the strongest quote on photography I’ve ever encountered. It puts sense into the artwork that a photographer strives to perfect, without taking it down to the technical level where art no longer meets the soul. Some photos we take are technical nightmares, compositional flops, some just happy accidents, but in the end, it is still the final photo that matters.

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

    One click is all you need to forever immortalize an infinitesimal moment, and as you do so, you catalog that event for reference. Like a history book, a picture allows you to walk back in time and live in days long gone, even for just a brief imaginary while.

  3. 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

    This is a phenomenon in portrait photography that’s rarely seen: how an artist can take a simple photo that tells the story of the subject and bares the inner being beyond the bounds of paper and ink. Personally, I strive to achieve this to a certain degee. When one day I’m informed to have told a person’s story simply through a photo or a small set of images, then I know my photography (and all the gear that came with it?) has justified itself.

  4. When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph. Annie Leibovitz

    Among photographers cited in this list, Annie Leibovitz is the most inspiring in a contemporary commercial sense considering her work for Vanity Fair. One of the more popular portrait photographers, she’s known for her close relationship with the subjects she works with, producing photographs uniquely her own. Same as the quote before this, Leibovitz’s work makes me yearn to photograph people while knowing them in a deep personal sense, to produce images that transcend physical/emotional/spiritual boundaries.

  5. All photos are accurate. None of them is the truth. Richard Avedon

    At first, I simply couldn’t understand this quote from the famous fashion photographer. Reading more on it, it boils down to this: A photograph can only show what is in the frame. It will always be an expression, a slice of life or the truth that we choose to believe or immortalize. But beyond the image, you will never see the reality that comes with it, both good and bad. The truth in a photo is limited to what is shows, making it inaccurate. But it will always be an incomplete truth.

Any quotes you’d like to share? Or new sets of photos perhaps? 😉

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