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40 Ansel Adams Quotes to Inspire You Today

6 min read

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Ansel Adams quotes

Almost everyone in the photography world and outside of it has heard of Ansel Adams. Adams was an American photographer famous for his breathtaking landscape photos taken around Western America. 

Through his environmentalist approach to photography and eye-catching black and white shots, Ansel Adams showed a different side of untouched America. He was an advocate of “pure” photography. Meaning his images were sharp and used more tonal ranges.

Adams was not only a celebrated landscape photographer but also full of wisdom. The following Ansel Adams quotes should spark new inspiration in your photography and life.

famous landscape photography by Ansel Adams

1. “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.”

2. “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”

3. “We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium.”

4. “Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.” 

mountain landscape photo

5. “It is my intention to present – through the medium of photography – intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators.” 

6. “In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”

7. “Ask yourself: “Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream?”

8. “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” 

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

beautiful landscape photography

10. “Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit.” 

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

12. “Notebook. No photographer should be without one.”

13. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” 

14. “I believe there is nothing more disturbing than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept!”

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

quotes and images to inspire photographers

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

17. “No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”

18. “Myths and creeds are heroic struggles to comprehend the truth in the world.” 

19. “The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster.” 

beautiful landscape photography

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

21.“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” 

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

23.  “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

24. “Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.”

nature photography

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

26. “In some photographs, the essence of light and space dominate; in others, the substance of rock and wood, and the luminous insistence of growing things…It is my intention to present-through the medium of photography-intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to spectators…” 

27. “I never know in advance what I will photograph, … I go out into the world and hope I will come across something that imperatively interests me. I am addicted to the found object. I have no doubt that I will continue to make photographs till my last breath.”

28. “No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being”

waterfall photography

29. “These people live again in print as intensely as when their images were captured on old dry plates of sixty years ago… I am walking in their alleys, standing in their rooms and sheds and workshops, looking in and out of their windows. Any they, in turn, seem to be aware of me.”

30. “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” 

31. “Some photographers take reality… and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.” 

32. “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

33. “Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum.”

quotes by ansel adams with images

34. “The whole world is, to me, very much “alive” – all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can’t look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life – the things going on – within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.”

35. “There are no forms in nature. Nature is a vast, chaotic collection of shapes. You as an artist create configurations out of chaos. You make a formal statement where there was none to begin with. All art is a combination of an external event and an internal event… I make a photograph to give you the equivalent of what I felt. Equivalent is still the best word.”

36. “Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and wonder surrounding him.”

nature photography to inspire by Ansel Adams

37. “It is all very beautiful and magical here—a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breathe it, let the sun bake it into you. The skies and land are so enormous, and the detail so precise and exquisite that wherever you are you are isolated in a glowing world between the macro and the micro, where everything is sidewise under you and over you, and the clocks stopped long ago.”

38. “With all art expression, when something is seen, it is a vivid experience, sudden, compelling, and inevitable.”

39. “We observe few objects really closely. As we walk on the earth, we observe the external events at two or three arms’ lengths. If we ride a horse or drive in an automobile, we are further separated from the immediate surround. We see and photograph “scenery”; our vast world is inadequately described as the “landscape.” The most intimate object perceived daily is usually the printed page. The small and commonplace are rarely explored.”

best nature photos

40. “Wilderness or wildness is a mystique. A religion, an intense philosophy, a dream of ideal society – these are also mystique. We are not engaged in preserving so many acre-feet of water, so many board-feet of timber, so many billion tons of granite, so many profit possibilities in so many ways for those concerned with the material aspects of the world. Yet, we must accept the fact that human life (at least in the metabolic sense) depends upon the resources of the Earth. As the fisherman depends upon the rivers, lakes, and seas, and the farmer upon the land for his existence, so does mankind, in general, depend upon the beauty of the world about him for his spiritual and emotional existence.”

the best landscape photo

Ansel Adams was so much more than just a photographer. He was a conservationist and someone renowned for his patience and view of the natural world. Through his work, the government was influenced to preserve America’s wildlife and scenic areas. Adams was drawn to the effortless beauty of nature and regarded photography as a vehicle to protect it. It is through his intuition and skillset that America learned to value nature even more, which is apparent in his quotes.

We hope Ansel Adams inspired you in some way today. If you want to learn more about Adams check out this site where you can view gorgeous photographs to motivate you every more! Even more, learn about the most famous landscape photographers who are revolutionizing the world with their industries today!

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Krystal Kenney is an award-winning photographer residing in Paris, France. She has been photographing for over 10 years and enjoys teaching others about the craft. She spends most days shooting events, portraits, and weddings around Paris and working on writing new books.
Krystal Kenney is an award-winning photographer residing in Paris, France. She has been photographing for over 10 years and enjoys teaching others about the craft. She spends most days shooting events, portraits, and weddings around Paris and working on writing new books.

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