10 Inspiring Quotes about Photography and Design

Marianne Stenger
23rd November 2018

Do you ever feel like you’ve run into a brick wall with your photography? Or maybe you’re currently in the process of designing a photo book and need some inspiration. Whatever the case may be, here are twelve insightful design and photography quotes that will help you reflect on the artistic process and delve into your work with renewed vigour.

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

Ansel Adams was a photographer and environmentalist who became famous for his detailed black-and-white landscape images. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest landscape photographers of all time, and this quote reflects his passion for both photography and nature.

“Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it’s so complicated.” – Paul Rand

Paul Rand was an art director and graphic designer who created iconic logos for corporations like IBM and ABC. This quote highlights the fact that keeping a design simple can be surprisingly difficult.

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” — Andy Warhol

Artist Andy Warhol understood visual design like no other, and his bright colourful images of Marilyn Monroe, Campbell’s Soup Cans, and Coca Cola bottles are now famous the world over. This quote captures the essence of photography and how it can freeze a moment in time.

“The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design.” – Adam Judge.

Adam Judge is a designer and author of the now famous Little Black Book of Design. The above quote emphasises the fact that design exists all around us, even when we aren’t consciously thinking about it.

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever. It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” — Aaron Siskind

Aaron Siskind was an artist and photographer best known for his abstract images. The above quote can be applied to any style of photography, however, and reminds us just how powerful and beautiful a photograph can be.

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Dr. Edwin Land  

Dr. Edwin Land was a scientist, physicist, and the inventor of the Poloroid camera. This quote is important because it reminds us that creativity is a process and that greatness isn’t always achieved on the first try.

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” — Elliott Erwitt

Elliott Erwitt is a documentary photographer known for his candid black-and-white portraits featuring the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Che Guevara, as well as his more humorous collection of dog photographs. This quote is a great reminder that we’re surrounded by remarkable photography subjects; we just need to take the time to notice them.  

“It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” – Paula Scher

Paula Scher is an influential graphic designer, painter, and art educator. The above quote highlights the fact that no one starts out as a great artist, designer, or photographer. Mistakes are simply part of the learning process and shouldn’t be feared.

“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it.” — Irving Penn

Irving Penn was a fine art, portrait, and fashion photographer whose clients included Vogue magazine, Clinique, and Versace. This quote is a good reminder that powerful photographs are more than just snapshots of whatever is in front of the lens.

“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.” — Joan Miro

Joan Miro was a surrealist painter, printmaker, and sculptor whose work is now displayed in galleries all over the world including Tate Modern in London. The quote above perfectly describes what it’s like when an image captures our imagination and gets us thinking.