To quote out of context is the essence of the photographer's craft.— John Szarkowski
The most surprising John Szarkowski quotes that will activate your desire to change
The basic material of photographs is not intrinsically beautiful.
It's not like ivory or tapestry or bronze or oil on canvas. You're not supposed to look at the thing, you're supposed to look through it. It's a window.
Photography is a contest between a photographer and the presumptions of approximate and habitual seeing. The contest can be held anywhere.
It isn't what a picture is of, it is what it is about.
Photography is the easiest thing in the world if one is willing to accept pictures that are flaccid, limp, bland, banal, indiscriminately informative, and pointless. But if one insists in a photograph that is both complex and vigorous it is almost impossible
The goal is not to make something factually impeccable, but seamlessly persuasive.
The very best pictures adapt themselves to many changes in meaning.
The simplicity of photography lies in the fact that it is very easy to make a picture. The staggering complexity of it lies in the fact that a thousand other pictures of the same subject would have been equally easy.
Like an organism, photography was born whole.
It is in our progressive discovery of it that its history lies.
They were ... pure and unadulterated photographs, and sometimes they hinted at the existence of visual truths that had escaped all other systems of detection.
Pure photography is a system of picture-making that describes more or less faithfully what might be seen through a rectangular frame from a particular vantage point at a given moment.
A camera has interesting ideas of its own.
The photographer’s vision convinces us to the degree that the photographer hides his hand.
Photography is choosing where to point your eye-cone.
A photographer's best work is, alas, generally done for himself.
Photography was not invented to serve a clearly understood function.
There was in fact widespread uncertainty, even among its inventors, as to what it might be good for.
The world now contains more photographs than bricks, and they are, astonishingly, all different.
Because we see reality in different ways, we must understand that we are looking at different truths rather than the truth and that, therefore, all photographs lie in one way or another.
Photography's central sense of purpose and aesthetic: the precise and lucid description of significant fact.
The central act of photography, the act of choosing and eliminating, forces a concentration on the picture edge - the line that separates in from out - and on the shapes that are created by it.
Luck is the attentive photographer's best teacher.
What's happening is that people are making a billion photographs a year of their cats, frequently with the cats wearing costumes. Do you think I should be doing shows of cat photography?
Whatever else a photograph may be about, it is inevitably about photography, the container and vehicle of all its meanings.
Most of Tina Modotti's work that is known to the photography world was done in Mexico in the years 1923 through 1926, when she lived and worked with Edward Weston.
A skillful photographer can photograph anything well.
Photography is a system of visual editing.
At bottom, it is a matter of surrounding with a frame a portion of one's cone of vision, while standing in the right place at the right time. Like chess, or writing, it is a matter of choosing from among given possibilities, but in the case of photography the number of possibilities is not finite but infinite.
The invention of photography provided a radically new picture-making process - a process based not on synthesis but on selection. The difference was a basic one. Paintings were made - constructed from a storehouse of traditional schemes and skills and attitudes - but photographs, as the man on the street put, were taken.
Trained as a musician, [photographer Ansel] Adams understood the richness of variation that could be unfolded from a simple theme.
In practice a photographer does not concern himself with philosophical issues while working; he makes photographs, working with subject matter that he thinks will make the pictures.