A picture is worth another thousand words…

August 4, 2008

A short while back I collated a few choice quotations and sayings on photography and the picture-taking process: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’.

I think various gems were omitted first-time round, so here are a few more:

“There are few professions where even when you are right at the top and a household name, you might still be standing on a draughty street corner with your feet getting wet and cold, waiting for something to happen.” (Philip Jones Griffiths)


Above – A British Airways aircraft taxis past BA tail-fins at Heathrow Airport, west London. Photograph by Toby Melville

“When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.” (Ted Grant)

“I always believed the press would kill her in the end. But not even I could believe they would take such a direct hand in her death as seems to be the case…Every proprietor and editor that has paid for intrusive and exploitative photographs of her…has blood on their hands today.” (Earl Spencer on his sister Diana, Princess of Wales)

“A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.” (Ansel Adams)

Above – A ballet dancer performs during a dress rehearsal for a new production of Swan Lake by The National Ballet of China at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London. Photograph by Dylan Martinez

“I never shed a tear while taking pictures or I couldn’t have seen through the viewfinder to focus the lens. I guess if auto-focus was around then it could have been different.” (Philip Jones Griffiths)

“The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to untruth.” (Harold Evans)

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” (Lewis Hine)

“The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.” (Henri Cartier Bresson)

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” (Ansel Adams)


Above – A man watches smoke from the Telegraph Fire near Yosemite National Park in El Portal, California. Photograph by Robert Galbraith

“The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.” (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

“I am sometimes accused by my peers of printing my pictures too dark. All I can say is that it goes with the mood of melancholy that is induced by witnessing at close quarters such intractable situations of conflict and joylessness.” (Don McCullin)


Above – A policeman stands guard as Shi’ite pilgrims march towards Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine in preparation for his death anniversary during a sandstorm in Baghdad. Photograph by Ceerwan Aziz

“The first ten thousand shots are the worst.” (Helmut Newton)

“What do you think has been your contribution to today’s photography ? ‘Thanks to my effort in the last 40 years, there has been more paper and film wasted.’ ” (Man Ray)

“The photograph is married to the eye, Grafts on its bride one sided skins of truth.” ( Dylan Thomas)

“A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever.” (Mark Twain)


Above – A man sleeps during the final of the Gold Cup British Open Polo Championship match between Ellerston and Loro Piana at Cowdray Park near Midhurst, southern England. Photograph by Luke MacGregor

“I only use a camera like I use a toothbrush. It does the job.” (Don McCullin)


Above – A worker is silhouetted as he cleans the floor outside the National Aquatics Centre also known as the Water Cube in Beijing July 29, 2008. It will host the swimming, diving and synchronized Swimming competitions during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Photograph by Claro Cortes IV

“A technically perfect photograph can be the world’s most boring picture.” (Andreas Feininger)

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