Some Favorite Quotes About Our Craft

I was recently reading about American documentary photographer and photojournalist Dorothea Lange and was reminded of one of my favorite quotes, in which she said “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Afterward, I thought it might be fun to take a look at what other luminaries have said about our craft:

“ When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” —Ansel Adams

“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.” —Henri Cartier-Bresson

“I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.” —Mahatma Gandhi

"A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures - they’re wonderful; 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

“A photographer is like a cod, which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.” —George Bernard Shaw

“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” —Richard Avedon

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” —Marc Riboud

“There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.” —Abraham Lincoln

“Sometimes I arrive just when God is ready to have someone click the shutter.” —Ansel Adams

“Above all, life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference.” —Robert Frank

“A photograph is a moral decision taken in one eighth of a second.” —Salman Rushdie

“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.” —Diane Arbus

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.” —Ted Grant

“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed.” —Susan Sontag

John Malathronas's picture

I know the Abraham Lincoln quote is all over the Internet, but so are many others that are apocryphal.

I have been trying to trace this particular quote to an actual speech, bio or reputable site on Lincoln such as or plus several books.

I would be grateful if you can you please let me know where the quote came from? But please don't refer to blogs, Twitter, Facebook, pinterest or sites with unedited and/or unresearched content.

nantucketbob's picture
nantucketbob's picture

Thanks for doing the research and posting the quotes.