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.
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.
“One does not photograph something simply for ‘what it is’, but for ‘what else it is’”.
- Minor White
“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
“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
“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”
- Ansel Adams
“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:
“Get a good pair of walking shoes and…fall in love.”
“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
“My advice: ‘Photograph who you are!’”
- Bruce Gilden
“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
“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