The 15 Best Ansel Adams Quotes About Photography

Photo of Ansel Adams with camera

Ansel Adams, one of America’s most beloved photographers, would have turned 119 on Saturday, so we thought the occasion of his birthday would be a good time to share some of his best quotes about photography. A celebrated landscape photographer and passionate environmentalist, Adams’ black-and-white images of the American West are iconic and what many people think of when they think of photography.

But Adams is almost as known for his words and ideas as he is for his photos. A founding member of Group f/64, which advocated for sharply focused and painstakingly composed images, Adams’ influence on generations of photographers cannot be overstated. His work with the Sierra Club and his efforts to preserve the United States’ National Parks also had a powerful effect on the environmental movement that’s still felt today

So happy birthday, Ansel Adams! May his words give you inspiration to go out and take, or as Ansel would say, make great photographs.

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

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” – Ansel Adams

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” – Ansel Adams

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams

“Not everybody trusts paintings, but people believe photographs.” – Ansel Adams

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” – Ansel Adams

“Ask yourself: ‘Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream?'” – Ansel Adams

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

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” – Ansel Adams

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” – Ansel Adams

“A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.” – Ansel Adams

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

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