Some are witty and obvious, others challenging, but I hope you find all inspirational. I know I do. Included are Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Man Ray.

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. – Henri Cartier-Bresson [1]

Think about the photo before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You mustn’t go too fast. The subject must forget about you. Then, however, you must be very quick. – Henri Cartier-Bresson [1]

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. – Henri Cartier-Bresson [1]

And Bresson’s most famous quote from his book The Decisive Moment:

To take photographs means to recognise – simultaneously and within a fraction of a second – both the fact itself and the rigorous organisation 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. – Henri Cartier-Bresson [1]

Edward Weston

My own eyes are no more than scouts on a preliminary search, for the camera’s eye may entirely change my idea. – Edward Weston [1]

Photography to the amateur is recreation, to the professional it is work, and hard work too, no matter how pleasurable it my be. – Edward Weston [1]

Consulting the rules of composition before taking a photograph, is like consulting the laws of gravity before going for a walk. – Edward Weston [1]

I see no reason for recording the obvious. – Edward Weston [1]

Ansel Adams

I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can! – Ansel Adams [1]

Some photographers take reality… and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation. – Ansel Adams [1]

Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter. – Ansel Adams [1]

There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. – Ansel Adams [1]

Man Ray

An original is a creation motivated by desire. Any reproduction of an originals motivated be necessity. It is marvelous that we are the only species that creates gratuitous forms. To create is divine, to reproduce is human. – Man Ray [1]

We know to what lies an entirely aesthetic preoccupation can lead ‘beauty’ and ‘morality’, to the point where the length of the beard is taken as an index of intellectual strength and virility. Only complete contempt for all formulas, aesthetic or timorous, joined to a total familiarity with the craft, can serve a new social condition and show its worth. – Man Ray [2]

Perhaps someday photography – if we allow it – will show us what painting has already shown us, our true portrait, and will give to the spirit of revolt that exists in every truly living, sensitive being, a plastic and enduring voice of its own. – Man Ray [2]

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 [1]

1. Quote from: www (various sources) (
2. Quote form: Photography in the Modern Era; European Documents and Critical Writings, 1913-1940. by Phillips, C. (1989). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art/Aperture.

Share This