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50 Ansel Adams Quotes on Photography and Nature

Published on November 27, 2019 7:00 AM EST
ansel adams quotes

Gain a whole new appreciation for photography and nature with these Ansel Adams quotes.

Ansel Adams was a brilliant photographer and conservationist. His love for the arts began by playing the piano which is where he thought his career was headed. But he developed a keen eye for photography and had a love of nature which led to him taking exquisite landscape photographs.

ansel adams quotes

While Ansel Adams did work in commercial photography for a period of time, including working for big name companies like Kodak and AT&T, his passion was in nature. He continued to pursue using photography for his creative spirit.

Below is our compilation of inspirational, wise and thoughtful Ansel Adams quotes and sayings, collected from a variety of sources over the years. And after reading these beautiful quotes, be sure to also check out our collection of nature quotes as well as these photography quotes for more inspiration.

Ansel Adams Quotes about What Photography Is

1.) “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” – Ansel Adams

2.) “Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.” – Ansel Adams

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

4.) “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.” – Ansel Adams

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

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

7.) “…one sees differently with color photography than black-and-white… in short, visualization must be modified by the specific nature of the equipment and materials being used.” – Ansel Adams

8.) “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” – Ansel Adams

9.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

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

Ansel Adams quotes that will make you smile

11.) “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is thereby a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams

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

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

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

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

16.) “To visualize an image (in whole or in part) is to see clearly in the mind prior to exposure, a continuous projection from composing the image through the final print.” – Ansel Adams

17.) “It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” – Ansel Adams

18.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

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

20.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams Quotes on Photography and Life

21.) “With all art expression, when something is seen, it is a vivid experience, sudden, compelling, and inevitable.” – Ansel Adams

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

23.) “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.” – Ansel Adams

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

25.) “I am sure the next step will be the electronic image, and I hope I shall live to see it. I trust that the creative eye will continue to function, whatever technological innovations may develop.” – Ansel Adams

26.) “Bad weather makes for good photography.” – Ansel Adams

27.) “Our lives at times seem a study in contrast… love & hate, birth & death, right & wrong… everything seen in absolutes of black & white. Too often we are not aware that it is the shades of grey that add depth & meaning to the starkness of those extremes.” – Ansel Adams

28.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams Quotes on What to Photograph

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

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

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

32.) “When I’m ready to make a photograph. I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I’m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.” – Ansel Adams

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

34.) “In my mind’s eye, I visualize how a particular… sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.” – Ansel Adams

35.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

36.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

37.) “Photograph not only what you see but also what you feel.” – Ansel Adams

38.) “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.” – Ansel Adams

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

40.) “Today, we must realize that nature is revealed in the simplest meadow, wood lot, marsh, stream, or tidepool, as well as in the remote grandeur of our parks and wilderness areas.” – Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams Quotes on Nature

41.) “I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful – an endless prospect of magic and wonder.” – Ansel Adams

42.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

43.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

44.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

45.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

46.) “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.” – Ansel Adams

47.) “The only things in my life that compatibly exists with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit.” – Ansel Adams

48.) “I believe in beauty. I believe in stones and water, air and soil, people and their future and their fate.” – Ansel Adams

49.) “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” – Ansel Adams

50.) “Let us leave a splendid legacy for our children… let us turn to them and say, this you inherit: guard it well, for it is far more precious than money… and once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.”

Enjoy the beauty that is around you

Ansel Adams saw and appreciated the beauty that was in his surroundings. He used his creativity to find new ways to look at the scenery and was patient enough to find the magic shot.

These quotes by Ansel Adams are filled with the thoughts and inspiration that helped him to achieve the success that he did. Whether you want to be a professional photographer, enjoy playing around with your camera, or have a deep appreciation for nature, take time to connect with the wisdom that was shared above.

And then, go out into the world and experiment yourself with photography, even if all you have is a camera on your phone. Look for new angles and ways to capture the beauty that you see.

Which of these Ansel Adams quotes resonated with you best? Do you have any other inspirational quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

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