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Quotes from the pros: Famous photographers speak

“Every other artist begins with a blank canvas, a piece of paper… the photographer begins with the finished product.” — Edward Steichen

“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind. To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable. I have only touched it, just touched it.” — Dorothea Lange

“The best images are the ones that retain their strength and impact over the years, regardless of the number of times they are viewed.” — Anne Geddes

“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.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson

“I am not interested in rules or conventions. Photography is not a sport.” — Bill Brandt

“Sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me. My concern is… the human predicament; only what I consider the human predicament may simply be my own.” — Richard Avedon

“There is a job to be done…to record the truth. I want to wake people up!” — James Nachtwey

“Let us first say what photography is not. A photograph is not a painting, a poem, a symphony, a dance. It is not just a pretty picture, not an exercise in contortionist techniques and sheer print quality. It is or should be a significant document, a penetrating statement, which can be described in a very simple term – selectivity.” — Berenice Abbott

“My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain.” — Helmut Newton

“The photographer begins to feel big and bloated and so big he can’t walk through one of these doors because he gets a good byline. He gets notices all over the world and so forth… but they’re really… the important people are the people he photographs. They are what make him.” — Gordon Parks

“If I am at a party, I want to be at the party. Too many photographers use the camera to avoid participating in things. They become professional observers.” — Robert Mapplethorpe

“You don’t have to sort of enhance reality. There is nothing stranger than truth.” — Annie Leibovitz

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” — Yousuf Karsh

“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.” — Alfred Eisenstaedt


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Better Days: The Golden Age of Newspapers
Photojournalism: Where to find the best in news photography

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