On Photography & Art


The difference between the casual impression and the intensified image is about as great as that separating the average business letter from a poem.  If you choose your subject selectively – intuitively – the camera can write poetry.

Harry Callahan


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


I am only interested in art that is in some way concerned with truth.  I could not care less whether it is abstract or what form it takes…….My object in painting pictures is to try and move the senses by giving an intensification of reality…….I think art is not called art for nothing; it is a deliberately wrought thing……What is on your paper or canvas is what you actually leave.  

Lucian Freud


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

Ansel Adams


Imagination is a quality that Lucien Freud values highly, like liveliness …… A great deal of what is normally thought of as intelligence …. Is actually imagination – that is, an ability to see things as they truly are.

Martin Gayford


When one is thinking visually there are no words, there are colors, there are forms, there are shapes, there are relationships, there are all things that are visual but there are no words.  No words.

Minor White

You wait for your eye to sort of “turn on,” for the elements to fall into place and that ineffable rush to occur, a feeling of exultation when you look through that ground glass, counting ever so slowly, clenching teeth and whispering to Jessie to 'holdstillholdstillholdstillholdstill' and just knowing that it will be good, that it is true.  Like the one true sentence that Hemingway writes about in A Moveable Feast, that incubating purity and grace that happens, sometimes, when all the parts come together.

Sally Mann


Art is the expression of imagination, not the duplication of reality.

Henry Moore


Photography, at its best, is not art; photography is photography.

Bill Jay


The person is of no importance.  It is the picture that is important…

Bill Brandt


A photographer went to a socialite party in New York.  As he entered the front door, the host said, “I love your pictures; you must have a fantastic camera.”  He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: “That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.”

Sam Haskins


Photography is the 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.

Elliott Erwitt


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

Ansel Adams


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

Martin Parr


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

Alfred Stieglitz


You must photograph where you are involved; where you are overwhelmed by what you see before you; where you hold your breath while releasing the shutter, not because you are afraid of jarring the camera, but because you are seeing with your guts wide open to the sweet pain of an image that is part of your life.

Harold Feinstein


The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference.  All of them can record what you are seeing.  But you have to SEE.

Ernst Haas


Art is art whatever it is called…….Appearing anywhere, oblivious of time, we know it when we hear it, see it, clear as recognition.

Isamu Noguchi


Light is the faithful archivist of time.

August Muth


Form, feeling,……structure and detail……technique and sensibility: It must all come together.

Arnold Newman


I believe this power of seeing the world as fresh and strange lies hidden in every human being.  In most of us it is dormant.  Yet it is there……Vicariously, through another person’s eyes, men and women can see the world anew.  It is shown to them     as something interesting and exciting.  There is given to them again a sense of wonder.

Bill Brandt


Recording unfelt facts by acquired rule, results in sterile inventory.  To see the Thing Itself is essential: the quintessence revealed direct.  This then: to photograph a rock, have it look like a rock, but be more than a rock.  

Edward Weston


Photographing things for what they are, and for what else they are.

Minor White


In my view photography has not changed since its origins, except in technical aspects……the chief requirement is to be fully involved in this reality which we delineate in the viewfinder…….Without the participation of intuition, sensibility, and understanding, photography is nothing……Photography appears to be a simple matter, but it demands powers of concentration combined with mental enthusiasm and discipline.

Henri Cartier Bresson


As I walked and gawked I added everything I saw to my memory’s palimpsest of the landscape……

Philip Connors


The purpose of Art is to convey the truth of a thing, not to be the truth itself.

Sylvie Beresford Todd


There is only the trying.  The rest is not our business.

T. S. Eliot


All creative art must rise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place.

D. H. Lawrence


Working outdoors – whether with watercolors, pencil, or camera – offered artists a chance to commune with the native soil as they worked to move beyond realism and description to communicate some texture or presence that was genuine to the experience of place.

Katherine Ware


What we professional liars hope to serve is truth.  I’m afraid the pompous word for that is art.  Picasso himself said it.  Art, he said, is a lie, a lie that makes us realize the truth. Reality?  It’s the toothbrush waiting at home for you in its glass, a bus ticket, a paycheck, and the grave.”

Orson Welles


To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand.  This is the sport, the luxury, special to the intellectual man.  The gesture characteristic of his tribe consists in looking at the world with eyes wide open in wonder.  Everything in the world is strange and marvelous to well-open eyes…….which leads the intellectual man through life in the perpetual ecstasy of the visionary.  His special attribute is the wonder of the eyes.  Hence it was that the ancients gave Minerva her owl, the bird with ever-dazzled eyes.

Jose Ortega y Gasset


But I guess I’ll keep on trying, for the same reason that’s kept me going before, which is this: People don’t realize that ultimately in this life, aesthetics really count.

Robert Irwin


Less is more.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe


The success of the masterpiece seems to lie not so much in their freedom from faults – indeed we tolerate the grossest errors in them all – but in the immense persuasiveness of a mind which has completely mastered its perspective.

Virginia Wolf


He who works with his hands is a labourer.  He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.  He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.

Francis of Assisi


Photography for me is a way of seeing things from another angle... I realized I didn’t want to compose pictures.  I wanted to find them.

Ellsworth Kelly


It is as true today as it ever was.  He who seeks beauty shall find it.

Bill Cunningham


The greatest tool at our command is the very thing that is photography.  Light, Light is our paintbrush and it is a most willing tool in the hands of one who studies it with sufficient care.

Laura Gilpin

Of all the subjects you can point a camera at, the land is, for me, the most demanding genre in photography.

Kurt Markus


There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts.  The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias.  The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was also the age of Shakespeare.  And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a new frontier for American art.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy


I follow the light.  If it’s a bright day, I’ll go in the prairies. If it’s cloudy, I’ll go into  the woods.  I let the light tell me what to do.  In other words, I let nature present itself.

Clyde Butcher


I want photographs to be a mystery, an interpretation, a catalyst for one’s imagination….we fill all our time up with noise and chaos, so I hope a viewer can enter into a photograph and feel the beauty of this place, the calmness,   the tranquility….I enjoy places that have mystery and atmosphere, perhaps a patina of age, a suggestion rather than a description, a question or two.  I look for memories, traces, evidence of human interaction with the landscape…..I often choose locations where I can be quiet, calm, and solitary, as it is my preferred way to work.  I look for an atmosphere that resonates with my own senses…...  I search for subject matter with visual patterns, interesting abstractions and graphic compositions….out there in the three dimensional world, and translate or interpret so that it becomes visually pleasing in a two dimensional photographic print.

Michael Kenna


For me there is only one path, and that is the path with heart.  And there I travel, and there I travel – looking, looking breathlessly.

Don Juan


Speak to the stones, and the stars answer.  At first the visible obscures: Go where light is.

Theodore Roethke


Photography is inherently an analytic discipline.  Where a painter starts with a blank canvas and builds a picture, a photographer starts with the messiness of the world and selects a picture……by choosing a vantage point, choosing a frame, choosing a moment of exposure, and by selecting a plane of focus.

Stephen Shore


Photographs are not real, they are stylized interpretations of reality, and they are a result of the decisions that each photographer makes about how they shoot…there are no rules.

        Huntington Witherill


The question is not what you look at but what you see.

Henry David Thoreau


Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light. And shadow and time will never come again exactly as it is today.

Edward Abbey


The poet and the artist are important precisely because they are not average men: because in sensibility, intelligence, and power of invention they far exceed the average.

Kenneth Clark


…I do not discuss any rules for good composition.  I avoid them because there are none.  Every composition is unique, and following some concocted formula will not guarantee a good photograph.  There are no formulas; there are no rules of composition.

Bruce Barnbaum


Photography’s supreme strength is that it shows us what things looked like (under a particular set of circumstances);

The photographer’s supreme gift is to so select and record the actual that is transformed into the universal.  That is the art of photography.

                                                        Bill Jay


A photograph is not necessarily a lie, but it isn’t the truth either.  It’s more like a fleeting subjective impression. What I like so much about photography is precisely the moment that cannot be anticipated; one must be constantly on the alert, ready to acclaim the unexpected.

                                                        Martine Franck


I have some fine new work; landscapes with gorgeous heavens, For in New Mexico the heavens and the earth become one.

Edward Weston


Amateurs worry about equipment, Professionals worry about time, Masters worry about light.



To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow.  It will come.  But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them.

Rainer Maria Rilke


Life is a shitstorm, in which art is our only umbrella.

Mario Vargas Llosa


Photographers are kind of like children….and children open their eyes to the world freshly each day, and that’s what a good photographer should do.  He should see it fresh……

Great photographers have to have three things: they have to have heart…they have to have an eye obviously to be able to compose…and they have to have a brain to think about what they are shooting.

John G. Morris


When I think of art I think of beauty.  Beauty is the mystery of life.  It is not in the eye it is in the mind.  In our minds there is awareness of perfection.

Agnes Martin


For me, content cannot be separated from form.  By form, I mean a rigorous organization of the interplay of surfaces, lines, and values.  It is in this organization alone that our conceptions and emotions become concrete and communicable.  In photography, visual organization can stem only from a developed instinct.

Henri Cartier-Bresson


The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.

Francis Bacon


Good pictures are not explained by words, and in the case of the best pictures a writer would be well-advised to save his paper…….A beginning photographer hopes to learn to use the medium to describe the truth; the intelligent journeyman has learned that there is not enough film to do that.

John Szarkowski


To a photographer the world consists of an infinite number of vantage points – places to stand – of which very few are altogether satisfactory.  The photographer’s goal is simple in principle and seemingly modest in ambition: it is to find the place and moment from which some interesting aspect of the world can be converted into a photograph that will be both clear and lively.

John Szarkowski 


Of all my photographs, the ones that have most meaning for me are those that I was moved to make from a certain vantage point, at a certain moment and no other, and for which I did not draw on my abilities to fabricate a picture, composition-wise or other-wise.  You might say that I was taken in.

Paul Caponigro


Noguchi says there are two ways of proceeding as a sculptor. One is to plan what you’re going to do and then do it.  The other is to create, and then see what you have done.  Noguchi puts himself in the second category as an artist.

H. Peter Stern


You don’t take pictures with your camera.  You take pictures with your mind and your heart. 

Arnold Newman












Photography & Art

lots of quotes to be added.