Roger's Corner

58 Lines by 36 Photographers

Published August 19, 2011

I loves me some quotes, so I thought I’d gather up my favorites and share them. I tried to get to 88 lines, wanting to pay tribute to the ultimate 80’s cult band, the Nails (or the less classic “88 lines about 44 Simpsons“).

But when the dust settled I only came up with 58 that I thought were profound. Here they are in alphabetical order by author, except for my favorite which I saved for last. If you know some I missed post them:  we only need 30 more to get to 88.

  • Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop – Ansel Adams
  • You don’t take a photograph, you make it. – Ansel Adams
  • There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. –  Ansel Adams
  • The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it. – Ansel Adams
  • Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.  – Ansel Adams
  • There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. — Ansel Adams
  • There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. – Ansel Adams
  • The term accessories has come to include a host of photographic gadgets of questionable value. – Ansel Adams
  • Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field. – Peter Adams
  • Everyone will take one great picture, I’ve done better because I’ve taken two. –  David Bailey
  • A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity that will never cease looking back at you. – Brigitte Bardot
  • Photograph: A picture painted by the sun without instruction in art. – Ambrose Bierce
  • Results are uncertain even for the more experienced photographers. Matthew Brady
  • Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • Sharpness is a bourgeois concept. – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough. – Robert Capa
  • It’s not enough to have talent, you also have to be Hungarian. – Robert Capa
  • Why is it called “after dark” when it really is “after light”? – George Carlin
  • Photography is my one recreation and I think it should be done well. – Lewis Carroll
  • Somebody just let the rabble in – Lewis Carroll – Upon the introduction of negatives and demise of colliodian plates.
  • The Truth Is You have too many cameras and you don’t take enough photographs. – Kyle Cassidy
  • I have seized the light. I have arrested its flight. – Louis Daguerre
  • It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter. – Alfred Eisenstadt
  • I expose longer. – Alfred Eisenstaedt, when asked what he did at night in Paris
  • Pictures must not be too picturesque. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Art is not to be found by touring to Egypt, China, or Peru; if you cannot find it at your own door, you will never find it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to untruth.  – Harold Evans
  • The hardest thing in photography is to create a simple image. – Anne Geddes
  • Photography is truth. And cinema is truth twenty-four times a second. – Jean-Luc Godard
  • I drifted into photography like one drifts into prostitution. First I did it to please myself, then I did it to please my friends, and eventually I did it for the money. – Philippe Halsman
  • I am often asked which picture is my favorite. This is like asking a mother which child she likes the most. – Philippe Halsman
  • If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.  – Lewis Hine
  • While photographs may not lie, liars may photograph. – Lewis Hine
  • It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours.  – James Lalropui Keivom
  • The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. – Dorthea Lange
  • People say photographs don’t lie, mine do.” –David LaChapelle
  • Unpredictability. Accidents. Not good when you’re engaging in, say, brain surgery, but when lighting…wonderful! –  Joe McNally
  • A career in photography is a journey without a destination. – Joe McNally
  • If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it. – Joe McNally
  • I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve missed just ‘cause I’ve been so hell bent on getting the shot I think I want. – Joe McNally
  • Photgraphy is a literature of light. – Moses Oliver
  • In black and white you suggest; in color you state. Much can be implied by suggestion, but statement demands certainty… absolute certainty. – Paul Outerbridge
  • There is no better time to crop a bad composition than just before you press the shutter release. – Bryan Peterson
  • If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff. – Jim Richardson
  • The two most engaging powers of a photographer are to make new things familiar and familiar things new. – William Thackeray
  • The question is not what you look at but what you see! – Henry David Thoureau
  • You cannot depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus – Mark Twain
  • Anything more than 500 yds from the car just isn’t photogenic. – Brett Weston
  • Consulting the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk. – Edward Weston
  • If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up. – Garry Winogrand
  • You see something happening and you bang away at it. Either you get what you saw or you get something else–and whichever is better you print. – Garry Winogrand
  • I just got this new camera. It’s so advanced you don’t even need it. – Stephen Wright
  • Everyone has a photographic memory, but not everyone has film.  – Author Unknown
  • If you saw a man drowning and you could either save him or photograph the event…what kind of film would you use? – Anonymous
  • How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, “I could have done that!” – Anonymous
  • The quickest way to make money at photography is to sell your camera. – Anonymous
  • Amateurs worry about equipment, Professionals worry about time, Masters worry about light. –  Anonymous
  1. Long ago . . . it must be . . . I have a photograph.  Preserve your memories;  They’re all that’s left you. — Paul Simon

Roger Cicala

August, 2011

Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

Posted in Roger's Corner
  • “Is there anything that does more justice to light itself, than cast upon the female form?”

  • A variation of no. 56:
    “The quickest way to make make money at photography is to invent some gadget photographers want.”

  • ArtemK

    “If you buy a camera, you are a photographer. If you buy a flute, you own a flute.”
    — Bob Kolbrener

  • Tom Cavanaugh

    Art is not to be found by touring to Egypt, China, or Peru; if you cannot find it at your own door, you will never find it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff. – Jim Richardson

    ay, there’s the rub. – Hamlet

  • “All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.” – Elliott Erwitt

    “There’s no such thing as a bad picture, you just look bad.” – David Lee Roth

  • Bob Beerbower

    The word ‘art’ is very slippery. It really has no importance in relation to one’s work. I work for the pleasure, for the pleasure of the work, and everything else is a matter for the critics. – Manuel Alvarez Bravo

  • Stephen Neff

    No George Eastman quotes?

    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.


    You push the button, we do the rest.

  • The one that I remember the most I don’t know who said it…” If you saw it, you didn’t get the shot”

    Mick made me cry with his quote…I lost my firstborn son a month before his 18th bday 6 ½ years ago….this quote is so priceless as I hardly have pictures of him which is why I got into photography in a real way. Oh, I took pictures (Fujica 35mm beginning in 1981) but don’t have them as they’ve mysteriously disappeared in the divorce.

    Then Chester made me laugh with the Sixth Sense reference! Ahh, photographers, gotta love em!

    Good work, need to make a cheat sheet for these! 🙂

  • Jim

    “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”

    – Either Paul Caponigro or John Paul Caponigro (Can’t remember which!)

  • My two favorite quotes:
    “Above all, life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference.”- Robert Frank
    “These are the two basic controls at the photographer’s command – position and timing -all others are extensions, peripheral ones, compared to them.” – David Hurn

  • Ray Riedel

    A variation I heard on the 58th quote:
    Amateurs look for sharpness. Professionals look for sales. Artists look for light.

  • Roger Cicala

    Artem, I have to admit I kinda like that one myself 🙂

  • Artem K.

    Great line, thanks Roger… Just found another one:

    “Fisheye shots are kind of like tequila shots – a few are fun but too many just make you sick.”

  • On your lightbulb joke, you left out the observer commenting, “You must use really great bulbs.”


  • Working freelance is lime going into the ring everyday to fight a bear, some days the bear wins, but he knows I’m gonna fight everyday !!! Eric Werner

    Great post

  • Chester

    “I see dead pixels” – The Sixth Sensor

  • Scott C.

    I know of another good quote

    light is to an image as blood is to the body. – Rolando Gomez

  • I’ve always said that Goddard has it wrong and have my own quote: “Film is lying 24 times a second.”

    I mean, think about it. How over-produced is “cinema” today?

  • AlanB

    “If art is aristocratic, photography is its democratic voice.” “Don’t torture yourself with too much equipment. It will tire you and cripple your concentration.” “I never really wanted to be a photographer. It was a compromise that slowly grew out of a boyhood desire to combine two goals: explorer and painter. I wanted to travel, to see, to experience, but was overwhelmed with too many constantly changing impressions. What better profession could there be than that of a photographer, who is almost a painter in a hurry?” – All from Ernst Haas, from Kodak’s The Joy of Photography, 1979/1982 edition. I love his work.

  • Peter Gilbert

    I think it was Edward Weston who once said “No photographer is better than the simplest of cameras”.

  • Mick Levanon

    Bravo Roger! The only thing I can add is similar to Paul Simon, but in Jim Croce’s voice – Photographs and Memories:

    Photographs and memories
    All the love you gave to me
    Somehow it just can’t be true
    That’s all I’ve left of you.

  • These quotes should be in every photography “How to” book.

  • juergen gulbins

    A pleasure to read, worth to remember, hard to act on.

  • Roger Cicala


  • Paul Creighton

    Reading a more than a few quotes, I’ve sometimes wished more photos had been made instead. But this was a nice surprise. Thank you.

  • Anthony Perez

    “The term accessories has come to include a host of photographic gadgets of questionable value.”

    *cough UV Filters cough*

  • Alan Kirschbaum

    The next time I feel a pang of envy at someone’s gear, or click the Save button on a mediocre picture, or wish I could afford the latest software or lens update, I promise to re-read the 58 Lines.

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