Lessons from Photography Masters


Today is Teachers' Day, so it's time for us to remember the mentors that molded the photography world as we know it, and the lessons that have been shaping photographers' lives through the years.

Credits: orangebird

Whether we like or loathe some of them, we cannot deny that teachers play significant roles in our lives. They tell us about the world and teach us skills for getting through life.

But, as we hear from wise people all the time, learning does not start or end in school. Throughout our lives, we encounter many different things that intrigue and interest us; and, for analogue-loving people in and out of our community, one of them is—yes, let’s say it together—photography!

Whether complete novices, advanced amateurs, or established practitioners, we are all hungry and thirsty for anything and everything we can learn to improve our craft. So, in celebration of Teachers’ Day, let us remember some photography masters and hear what they have to say to all aspiring photographers out there.

“Barn and Clouds” by Minor White. Photo via Masters of Photography

“One does not photograph something simply for ‘what it is’, but for ‘what else it is’”.

- Minor White

“Behind the Gare St. Lazare” by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Photo via Momat

“Think about the photo before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You mustn’t go too fast. The subject must forget about you. Then, however, you must be very quick.”

- Henri Cartier-Bresson

“The Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange. Photo via Wikipedia

“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.”

“Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion… the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.”

- Dorothea Lange

“The Tetons and the Snake River” by Ansel Adams. Photo via Wikipedia

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

- Ansel Adams

“Sailor kissing girl in Times Square” by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Photo via Acepilots.com

“Once the amateur’s naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.”

- Alfred Eisenstaedt

And some noteworthy lessons from the legendary Magnum photographers:

Photo by Abbas via Asia Tatler

“Get a good pair of walking shoes and…fall in love.”

- Abbas

Photo by Alex Webb via Eric Kim Photography.com

“Photograph because you love doing it, because you absolutely have to do it, because the chief reward is going to be the process of doing it. Other rewards — recognition, financial remuneration — come to so few and are so fleeting…Take photography on as a passion, not a career.”

- Alex Webb

Photo by Bruce Gilden via Eric Kim Photography.com

“My advice: ‘Photograph who you are!’”

- Bruce Gilden

Photo by Christopher Anderson via Eric Kim Photography.com

“Make the pictures you feel compelled to make and perhaps that will lead to a career. But if you try to make the career first, you will just make shitty pictures that you don’t care about.”

- Christopher Anderson

Photo by Eli Reed via Eric Kim Photography.com

“Lose the ego and let the photograph find you. Observe the life moving like a river around you and realize that the images you make may become part of the collective history of the time that you are living in.”

- Eli Reed

Sources and additional readings:
35 Magnum Photographers give their advice to aspiring photographers -- Eric Kim Photography.com
Dorothea Lange -- Brainy Quote
Alfred Eisenstaedt -- Brainy Quote
Ansel Adams -- Brainy Quote
Minor White -- DPTips
Photography -- About.com

written by plasticpopsicle on 2011-10-05 in #lifestyle #magnum #masters #henri-cartier-bresson #dorothea-lange #alfred-eisenstaedt #analogue-lifestyle #lessons-from-photography-masters #lessons #teachers-day #lomography #advice #photographers #ansel-adams


  1. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    thanx for the big lesson!

  2. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    great masters!

  3. adi_totp
    adi_totp ·

    wooow! big lesson! :D

  4. plasticpopsicle
    plasticpopsicle ·

    I hope you guys are inspired by our photography teachers! :)

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