Guide For The Most Inspirational Photography Quotes

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We are constantly surrounded by photography, both in significant and trivial ways. From sharing photos on social media to trying to make an impact on humanity, photography is very important to our world. Photography has evolved for centuries. From the earliest days of photography, practitioners derived their inspiration from paintings. If you want motivation, perhaps photography quotes will help you understand photography better.

The purpose of this article is to address the question of whether photography is an art or much more, show how photos impact people, and list some of the most inspirational photography quotes.

Is Photography An Art Or Much More?

For almost two centuries, people have been asking whether photography is an art. At the early meeting of the Photographic Society of London, which was established in 1853, one of the members made complaints that photography, which was a new technique then, was too literal to compete with works of art as it was unable to elevate the imagination. It was thought that photography was just a mechanical recording medium, a conception that loosely exists today.

Even by the 1960s to 1970s, art photography, which revolved around the idea that photographs could capture more than just surface appearances, was, according to Jeff Wall, a photo ghetto of publications, aficionados, and niche galleries. However, over the past few decades, the question as to whether photography is an art has decreased in frequency. The debate was over when Andreas Gursky came up with a photograph of a gray Rhine river under a colorless sky, which was sold at a record price of £2.7 million in 2011.

The National Gallery, as if to give a sign of approval that photography is indeed an art, held the first major exhibition of photography dubbed Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present. The show examines how photography’s earliest practitioners looked to paintings when they first explored the potential of their technology and how the modern descendants look to their photographic old masters.

The first documented photograph was View From the Window at Le Gras, which was taken by Nicéphore Niépce in 1826/27. Even though this might not be the first, it is the oldest surviving photograph. It was a real hit for realists who attempted to deny that photography is an art. With the invention of photography, the need to document with paint became laborious as it was a task that took hours, days, and even weeks. Photography now took just minutes.

Where The Debate Leaves Painters And Artists

man taking picture of a black cat lying on ground

Image via: Pixabay

If you look at art history post-1826, you will find a shift in artistic behavior. An abstraction of the real was realized, starting with Romanticists, such as William Turner and John Constable, whose artwork looked at the world through their eyes, as opposed to unbiased realists.

The usage of art as documentation after photography was invented led to an abstract shift as artworks became visions of the world and perspectives of the zeitgeist rather than realist snapshots of happenings, people, and events. This makes us question whether photography is an art and where it sits since it was built by sculptors and artists.

Photography became a useful tool like no other medium before – the ability to instantly capture the moment, the scene within your vision instantaneously acquired. Henri Cartier-Bresson’s was quoted saying, “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”

Photography Is Art

Photography of city with lights at night

Image via: Pixabay

To say photography is not art is ignoring history. Paintings afford artists a vast amount of freedom of expression. One admires the moment acquired by the photographer, the stillness of the image and a fragment of history. It is not free from color, balance, composition, or lighting. One can tell a master from an amateur.

Photography Is Not An Art

Photography is not an art when it comes to snapshots of friends and wedding photography. This is not a concept unique to photography. To many, doodles aren’t considered art and neither are finger paintings. As such, there are works that don’t enter the realms of what is considered “art.” This means that what is considered an art is subjective to the viewer.

One of the difficulties of classifying photography as an art in the 21st century is its accessibility. Camera phones, disposable cameras, and cheap DSLR’s combined with a lust for images has led to saturation of imagery. With every medium comes the Sunday Photographer or Painter – people undertaking art without the worry of whether or not their work will be considered art. This is mainly for the pure enjoyment of something they are passionate about.

How Photos Impact People

person holding a camera

Image via: Pixabay

Photography impacts people in the following aspects:

  • You can connect with friends and family over social media sites
  • Images capture your life as you can upload your pictures on social media sites like Instagram
  • You can promote your business by sharing the photos of your products
  • You preserve memories, such as your childhood
  • Images communicate the beauty and aesthetic appeals
  • You can document histories, such as your leaders or celebrations
  • Photography is a universal language
  • You can send a message, for example when you capture political protests
  • We can learn through images, such as when taking photography classes
  • Photographs can be used as a way of expressing and reflecting one’s feelings

23 Inspirational Photography Quotes

Famous photographers, over the centuries, have produced incredible images that have stood the test of time. The photographs are not just inspirational, they encompass acute insights into the creative process, which have guided generations of photographers and shaped the way modern photographers think about scenes and subjects. For inspiration and motivation, we’ve compiled photography quotes from talented photographers as follows.

Alfred Stieglitz (1864 – 1946) Photography Quotes

1. “Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”

2. “In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”

Anne Geddes 1956 Photography Quotes

3. “I think that emotional content is an image’s most important element, regardless of the photographic technique. Much of the work I see these days lacks the emotional impact to draw a reaction from viewers or remain in their hearts.”

4. “The best images are the ones that retain their strength and impact over the years, regardless of the number of times they are viewed.”

Ansel Adams (1902–1984) Photography Quotes

5. “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”

6. “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

7. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

8. “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

Berenice Abbott (1898–1991) Photography Quotes

9. “Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.”

10. “Photography helps people to see.”

Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) Photography Quotes

11. “To know ahead of time what you’re looking for means you’re then only photographing your own preconceptions, which is very limiting, and often false.”

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

13. “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”

14 “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”

Elliott Erwitt (1928) Photography Quotes

15. “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.”

16. “It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.”

17. “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

Ernst Haas (1921–1986) Photography Quotes

18. “I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.”

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

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908–2004) Photography Quotes

20. “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.”

21. “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

22. “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second of the significance of an event.”

23. “The photograph itself doesn’t interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.”


The debate of whether photographs are an art or not has been ongoing for centuries. The debate was over when Andreas Gursky came up with a photograph of a gray Rhine river under a colorless sky. Photography is recognized as an art. However, some aspects of photography, such as photos with friends or wedding photos are not considered art, which means that the question of whether photography is an art or not is subjective to the viewer.

Photography impacts our lives to a large extent. You can connect, capture life moments, promote your business, communicate beauty, learn, preserve memories, and even express feelings. For inspiration and motivation, we compiled photography quotes that will keep you going in your career as a photographer. We hope that this article has adequately addressed whether photography is an art, revealed how it impacts people, and inspired you with some of the best inspirational photography quotes.

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