Street photography is a powerful medium that’s capable of memorializing the beauty and complexity of the world around us. Capturing emotion and telling stories that are both personal and universal is at the heart of the timeless street shots, and if you use your camera to document the world around you, you provide a legacy for generations to come.
In this article, I share some of the best street photography quotes composed by an array of photographers. I hope these quotes will give you a glimpse into how some of the most accomplished shooters see the world around them – and inspire you to keep on photographing!
Capturing the moment: best quotes
The power of observation is one essential aspect of street photography. Through careful observation, you can capture the essence of a moment. You can freeze it in time, allowing the viewer to understand more about how you see the world.
In this section, I explore some of the best quotes from famous photographers on the power of observation so you can better understand the art of capturing the moment:
1. “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
2. My photography is a reflection, which comes to life in action and leads to meditation. Spontaneity – the suspended moment – intervenes during action, in the viewfinder. – Abbas
3. “Anyone can shoot chaos. But the most perceptive photographers can make compelling pictures out of uninteresting moments.” – Alex Tehrani
4. “All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.” – Elliott Erwitt
5. “Chance is always there. We all use it. The difference is a poor photographer meets chance one out of a hundred times and a good photographer meets chance all the time.” – Brassai
Telling a story through street photography: best quotes
Street photography isn’t just about taking random photos; it’s about telling a story. The art of observation and the photographer’s perspective together create a narrative through images.
In this section, I share some of the best quotes about the art of storytelling in street photography. Hopefully, they’ll inspire you to see the world in a new and more meaningful way.
6. “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things in words.” – Elliott Erwitt
7. “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” – Robert Doisneau
8. “Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” – Alfred Stieglitz
9. “Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.” – Bruno Barbey
10. “A great photograph needs no explanation; it functions by suggestion. There is no need to be explicit.” – Mary Ellen Mark
Capturing emotion in street photography: best quotes
Emotion is an integral part of street photography. Emotion is what makes your images come alive and helps connect the viewer to your subject. The most accomplished street photographers know how to capture the atmosphere and emotion of each and every location they work in.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some inspiring quotes on photographing emotion:
11. “If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” – Eve Arnold
12. “What you look for in a picture is a metaphor, something that means something more, that makes you think about things you’ve seen or thought about.” – Mary Ellen Mark
13. “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt
14. “Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.” – Andre Kertesz
15. “Emotion or feeling is really the only thing about pictures I find interesting. Beyond that it is just a trick.” – Christopher Anderson
16. “When people look at my pictures, I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” – Robert Frank
The role of the photographer: best quotes
The role of the photographer is crucial when it comes to capturing the image and the story behind it. To create unique images, you must learn how to express your vision through your pictures.
In this section, I explore some of the best quotes about the role of the image-maker in street photography. They’ll teach you how your perspective shapes each image and the story it tells.
17. “I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known awaits just around the corner.” – Alex Webb
18. “The urge to create, the urge to photograph, comes in part from the deep desire to live with more integrity, to live more in peace with the world, and possibly to help others to do the same.” – Wynn Bullock
19. “A photograph is neither taken nor seized by force. It offers itself up. It is the photo that takes you. One must not take photos.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
20. “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” -Susan Sontag
21. “One of the joys of photography is that you never know what will come at you from around the next corner.” – Tom Ang
The ethics of street photography: best quotes
With street photography comes great responsibility. It’s important to be aware of the impact your images can have on the people in them, and showing both respect and responsibility in the way we capture and share street photos is essential.
In this section, I share some of the best quotes about the ethics of street photography, with the aim of showing how respect and responsibility play a crucial role in the medium.
22. “For me, a photograph is a page from life, and that being the case, it must be real.” – Weegee
23. “The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.” – Susan Meiselas
24. “I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images, I live with them.” – Bruce Gilden
25. “I don’t believe a person has a style. What people have is a way of photographing what is inside them. What is there comes out.” – Sebastiao Salgado
26. “I go straight in very close to people and I do that because it’s the only way you can get the picture. You go right up to them. Even now, I don’t find it easy. I don’t announce it. I pretend to be focusing elsewhere. If you take someone’s photograph it is very difficult not to look at them just after. But it’s the one thing that gives the game away. I don’t try and hide what I’m doing – that would be folly.” – Martin Parr
Finding beauty in the everyday: best quotes
Street photography is all about capturing the beauty in the ordinary. By looking carefully, you can find – and photograph – the extraordinary in everyday objects and subjects. It’ll help you see the world in new ways and capture the beauty of the mundane.
In this section, I explore some of the best quotes about the poetry in the ordinary, and how you can find and capture it in your street photography.
27. “Part of the role of photography is to exaggerate, and that is an aspect that I have to puncture. I do that by showing the world as I really find it.” – Martin Parr
28. “There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.” – Robert Heinecken
29. “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” -Paul Caponigro
30. “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
31. “You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.” – Elliott Erwitt
The best street photography quotes: final words
Street photography is a powerful medium. It allows photographers to capture candid moments and tell unique stories with their images.
I hope this list of the best street photography quotes provides insight and inspiration. These pearls of wisdom highlight the artistry, passion, and dedication that goes into this genre of image-making.
Whether you’re a seasoned street photographer or just starting out, these quotes can serve as inspiration for your own work, and they’ll remind you of the importance of capturing the beauty and chaos of everyday life!