Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes by Sam Abell.
“One of the things that I most believe in is the compose and wait philosophy of photography. It’s a very satisfying, almost spiritual way to photograph. Life isn’t’ knocking you around, life isn’t controlling you. You have picked your place, you’ve picked your scene, you’ve picked your light, you’ve done all the decision making and you are waiting for the moment to come to you….” – Sam Abell
“But there is more to a fine photograph than information. We are also seeking to present an image that arouses the curiosity of the viewer or that, best of all, provokes the viewer to think – to ask a question or simply to gaze in thoughtful wonder. We know that photographs inform people. We also know that photographs move people. The photograph that does both is the one we want to see and make. It is the kind of picture that makes you want to pick up your own camera again and go to work.” – Sam Abell
“As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity, I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs. Photography, alone of the arts, seems perfected to serve the desire humans have for a moment – this very moment – to stay.” – Sam Abell
“My first priority when taking pictures is to achieve clarity. A good documentary photograph transmits the information of the situation with the utmost fidelity; achieving it means understanding the nuances of lighting and composition, and also remembering to keep the lenses clean and the cameras steady.” – Sam Abell
“And that desire – the strong desire to take pictures – is important. It borders on a need, based on a habit: the habit of seeing. Whether working or not, photographers are looking, seeing, and thinking about what they see, a habit that is both a pleasure and a problem, for we seldom capture in a single photograph the full expression of what we see and feel. It is the hope that we might express ourselves fully – and the evidence that other photographers have done so – that keep us taking pictures.” – Sam Abell
“Above all, it’s hard learning to live with vivid mental images of scenes I cared for and failed to photograph. It is the edgy existence within me of these unmade images that is the only assurance that the best photographs are yet to be made.” – Sam Abell
“You know you are seeing such a photograph if you say to yourself, “I could have taken that picture. I’ve seen such a scene before, but never like that.” It is the kind of photography that relies for its strengths not on special equipment or effects but on the intensity of the photographer’s seeing. It is the kind of photography in which the raw materials – light, space, and shape – are arranged in a meaningful and even universal way that gives grace to ordinary objects.” – Sam Abell
“In my work, the most elaborate – and essential – accessory is a standard tripod. For spiritual companions I have had the many artists who have relied on nature to help shape their imagination. And their most elaborate equipment was a deep reverence for the world through which they passed. Photographers share something with these artists. We seek only to see and to describe with our own voices, and, though we are seldom heard as soloists, we cannot photograph the world in any other way.” – Sam Abell
“It matters little how much equipment we use; it matters much that we be masters of all we do use.” – Sam Abell
“…just like some people’s instinct to photograph is triggered by vacation… assignments might be that to me and that’s why I’ve built my life around assignments. That was the way to live the photographic life.” – Sam Abell
“I think of myself as a writer who photographs. Images, for me, can be considered poems, short stories or essays. And I’ve always thought the best place for my photographs was inside books of my own creation.” – Sam Abell
“There isn’t an aspect of book creation I don’t enjoy, and there has always been a book in my life to dream about or work on.” – Sam Abell
“Life rarely presents fully finished photographs. An image evolves, often from a single strand of visual interest – a distant horizon, a moment of light, a held expression.” – Sam Abell
“The neatest part of this book I’m working on – to me – are the pictures that show the process… Because photographers… think things through and… it isn’t luck, and it isn’t random and it isn’t accidental. It isn’t.” – Sam Abell
“My best work is often almost unconscious and occurs ahead of my ability to understand it.” – Sam Abell
“A mad, keen photographer needs to get out into the world and work and make mistakes.” – Sam Abell
“In almost every photograph I have ever made, there is something I would do to complete it. I take that to be the spirit hole or the deliberate mistake that’s in a Navajo rug to not be godlike, but to be human.” – Sam Abell
“Photographs that transcend but do not deny their literal situation appeal to me.” – Sam Abell
“The best lesson I was given is that all of life teaches, especially if we have that expectation.” – Sam Abell
“How the visual world appears is important to me. I’m always aware of the light. I’m always aware of what I would call the ‘deep composition.’ Photography in the field is a process of creation, of thought and technique. But ultimately, it’s an act of imaginatively seeing from within yourself.” – Sam Abell
“Essentially what photography is is life lit up.” – Sam Abell
Find out more about Sam Abell’s Photographic Life here.
Find more photographer’s quotes here.
View photographer’s favorite quotes here.
“Issue 8 proudly showcases portfolios from Ami Vitale (storyteller and National Geographic photographer), Charles Adams (fine art landscape photographer), Jon McCormack (documentary humanitarian photographer), and Tom McLaughlan (abstract photographer).
This issue includes articles by our columnists John Paul Caponigro, Bruce Percy, Guy Tal, Chris Orwig, Martin Bailey, Piet Van den Eynde, Adam Blasberg, and David duChemin.”
In my column Creative Composition I discuss the uses of and relationships between Simplicity & Complexity.
I’m delighted to see that included is the work of Charles Adams, who has been my assistant for the last five years.
Preview PHOTOGRAPH 8 here.
Looking for great books on the business of photography? Browse this collection of my favorites.
From presentation to copyright and pricing, you’ll find a treasure trove of professional practices and insider tips.
Looking for great books on the photographic theory?
Browse this collection of my favorites.
These soulful discussions of photography will remind you of why you do it and how to go further and deeper with your practice.
Find more great books here.
Here’s a collection of quotes by photographer Jay Maisel.
“Always carry a camera, it’s tough to shoot a picture without one.” – Jay Maisel
“Never say you’re going back – SHOOT IT NOW!” – Jay Maisel
“If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.” – Jay Maisel
“Try to go out empty and let your images fill you up.” – Jay Maisel
“Allow yourself to lose your way.” – Jay Maisel
“It’s always around. You just don’t see it.” – Jay Maisel
“If you can capture the element of surprise, you’re way ahead of the game.” – Jay Maisel
“You have to have a lot of ‘overage’ so that your failures aren’t the only thing you come home with. You’ve got to have a lot of things that were magnificent failures, but you want some magnificent successes.” – Jay Maisel
“There are rules about perception, but not about photography.” – Jay Maisel
“When finding the right angle for a shot…’Move your ass.’” – Jay Maisel
“You find that you have to do many things, more than just lift up the camera and shoot, and so you get involved in it in a very physical way. You may find that the picture you want to do can only be made from a certain place, and you’re not there, so you have to physically go there. And that participation may spur you on to work harder on the thing, . . . because in the physical change of position you start seeing a whole different relationship.” – Jay Maisel
“A photographer’s art is more in his perceptions than his execution. In a painter, I think the perception is only the first step, and then you have a kind of hard road of execution.” – Jay Maisel
“Be aware of every square millimeter of your frame.” – Jay Maisel
“You are responsible for every part of your image, even the parts you’re not interested in.” – Jay Maisel
“If you’re not shooting in the right direction, it doesn’t matter how well you’re shooting.”
“If the light is great in front of you, you should turn around and see what it is doing behind you.” – Jay Maisel
“As people, we love pattern. But interrupted pattern is more interesting.” – Jay Maisel
“Every picture should have a place you can go, a home, a climax.” – Jay Maisel
“Never put lettering in your photos unless you want it read.” – Jay Maisel
“I don’t see light as something that falls, but as a positive force.” – Jay Maisel
“I’m a New Yorker. I don’t believe in air unless I can see it.” – Jay Maisel
“Each picture you take has power as long as it brings experience to the person who’s looking at it.” – Jay Maisel
“If you want to make more interesting pictures, become a more interesting person.” – Jay Maisel
Find out more about Jay Maisel here.
Read more quotes by photographers here.
View documentaries on photographers here.
Looking for good books? Browse my Recommended Reading lists.
Topics include …
Creativity, Color, Graphic Design, Digital Photography, Photography Appreciation, Photography Theory, Photography Business, Important Thoughts, Cultures, Climate Change, Meditation and Journaling.
If you’re looking for great books on these subjects look at these books first.
Yes, these lists are missing some of the important classics in these fields that are less accessible and require more effort. Essential, clear, actionable – these are the criteria I’ve used for this selection.
These are some of the books that have changed my life. One of them might change yours too.