I have always been a fan of quotes, and, I have a list of my favorite photography-related quotes that I have read and reread hundreds of times. I read them when I’m feeling uninspired, or if I feel like I’ve lost my direction as a photographer, and I also read them when I just want to know that someone else knows exactly how I feel, but was able to put it into words much more eloquently than I ever could! Here are some of my favorites:
“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” ~ Ansel Adams
I feel kind of silly bringing an Ansel Adams quote into the mix, because people have such polarizing opinions on his photography. However, this is one of my most favorite quotes! We all have times when we compare ourselves to other photographers, whether we realize it or not, and while this can be a healthy exercise to motivate us to reach new heights with our photography, it’s also important to remember that our photography will always be a reflection of us, and something that is uniquely our own. Rather than striving to emulate someone else’s photography, it is much healthier and rewarding to let our own life experiences and outlook on the world influence our photography. Whether we realize it or not, everything that we have been through in our lives will affect the way we photograph, so why not embrace that uniqueness?
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” ~ Dorothea Lange
For me, (and I’m guessing that most people who have discovered photography feel this way, too) when I began making photos on a regular basis, I became much more aware of my surroundings. Whether it was beautiful light, interesting shapes, or a subtle shift in someone’s facial expression, I found that I was much more aware of things than I had been prior to picking up a camera. Being a photographer has many rewards, but I think one of the greatest rewards of photography is that it teaches us to really and truly observe the world around us, and take it all in.
“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.” ~ Annie Leibovitz
Whether you photograph people or landscapes, make fine art or commercial images, photography requires a certain amount of “falling in love” with the subject on the photographer’s part. Of course, when I say “falling in love” I don’t mean ride-off-into-the-sunset-together love, but you do need to have some level of emotional investment in who/what you are photographing. If you fall into the rut of taking photos simply for the act of taking photos, or making money for taking photos, your photos will reflect the fact that you have no emotional investment in what you are doing, and, ultimately, you’ll have some pretty boring photos on your hands. A little bit of empathy on your part can go a long way! For a lot of us, we may only photograph someone once, and never have the chance to get to truly know them. So, if you are empathizing with your subject during your time with them, your empathy will reflect in your photos.