A picture is worth a thousand words, but…

June 16, 2008


‘A picture is worth a thousand words’….or so the saying goes. But sometimes authors, journalists, commentators, philosophers and heck, on occasions, even snappers, describe photography and the picture-taking process with a  memorable phrase or succinct saying.

With apologies if I have either misquoted or misattributed any of the following quotations, here is a selection of my favourites in no particular order:

‘One of the risks of appearing in public is the likelihood of being photographed.’ (Diane Arbus)

‘Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure.’ (Tony Benn)

‘It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.’ (Alfred Eisenstaedt)

‘Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.’  (Ansel Adams)

‘The camera is an eye that sees and records the lives of filthy people. Its pictures are hung in museums and published in thick books that future generations can see how horrible life was.’ (David Shrigley)

‘If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.’ (Robert Capa)

‘Journalists belong in the gutter because that is where the ruling classes throw their guilty secrets.’ (Gerald Priestland)

‘The photographer is like cod which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.’ (George Bernard Shaw)

‘I hate cameras.  They are so much more sure than I am about everything.’ (John Steinbeck)

‘I don’t trust photographers. I’m now a relaxed, contented 60 year-old, but look at my pictures and you see a crazy, bug-eyed serial killer.’ (Richard Ingrams)

‘The paparazzi are nothing but dogs of war.’ (Catherine Deneuve)

‘My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph.’  (Richard Avedon)

‘A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.’ (Diane Arbus)

‘The press is ferocious. It forgives nothing, it only hunts for mistakes…In my position anyone sane would have left a long time ago.’ (Diana, Princess of Wales)

‘Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.’  (Ansel Adams)

‘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)

‘I think the best pictures are often on the edges of any situation, I don’t find photographing the situation nearly as interesting as photographing the edges.’ (William Albert Allard)

‘Actually, I’m not all that interested in the subject of photography.  Once the picture is in the box, I’m not all that interested in what happens next.  Hunters, after all, aren’t cooks.’  (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

….And finally, although an observation on a specialist area of our text colleagues and not  about photography, I chuckled anyway:

‘Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.’ (Frank Zappa)

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