Photography is storytelling. And while some of the world’s greatest photographers are undoubtedly visual artists, they have an amazing way with words, too. That’s why we bet these five inspirational quotes will inspire you for a long time:
1. “To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
— Susan Sontag, critic and theorist
From street photography to portraiture, the best photos are always when you are really present with your subject. And those photos aren’t always technically perfect – but they are real. Look at the early works of Diane Arbus for proof – her first shots on 35mm often had some motion blur or weren’t perfectly exposed. They did capture the moment (and more), which far outweighs perfection when it comes to art.
2. “We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory.”
— Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer and father of modern photojournalism
Cartier-Bresson hints here at the magic of photography, and the alchemic act that can freeze a moment in time. Don’t put off finding a good photographer for the important events in your life — memories will fade and shift in our minds, but you can reflect on a good photo for the rest of your life (and your children can too).
3. “Choosing the right people to be in your photograph is half the battle, really, and it’s more an instinct than a skill. In general, I look for faces that can bear the weight of complex dreams and anxieties and narratives that I wish to project on them.”
— Nguan, photographer
Just as crafting a great meal can come down to one succulent ingredient, the best photos can come to life with an engaged subject. Connect with the people in your imagery, instead of photographing them in a separate and distant way.
4. “Digital photography is, by definition, unfinished. You don’t feel that after every 24 or 36 shots you have to change your film — you know you can go on for ever if you want.”
— Abbas Kiarostami, filmmaker
Even a professional photographer will get exhausted and run out of creative juice if you’re subjecting him to dozens of replicate shots of you and your fiancée bending over the railing of the Cavenagh Bridge. Trust your photographer — pros know when they’ve hit the right shot.
5. “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”
— Alfred Eisenstaedt, photographer and photojournalist
A beautiful thought that seems to showcase how, at its heart, photography is one of the most human of arts.