The Ultimate 5 Street Photography Quotes

Here are my favorite street photography quotes from the masters of photography:

1. “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” – Robert Capa

If you want to make better photos, get closer both physically and emotionally. Use a wide angle lens like a 24mm, 28mm, or 35mm, and fill the frame with your subject matter. Also get close to your subjects emotionally; talk and engage and interact with your subjects, and embed your soul into your photos.

2. “Sometimes you need to milk the cow a lot to get a little bit of cheese.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

If you want to make a good photo, you must shoot a lot! Even Henri Cartier-Bresson “worked the scene” to just get 1 good “decisive moment” in his photos.

Suggestion: study contact sheets, and understand that you often need to shoot a lot to even get one or two good photos.

3. “F8 and be there!” – Weegee

Putting yourself in interesting situations is more important than being the best technical or “talented” photographer. Honestly 90% of street photography is just being at the right place at the right time. Which means, the more often you go out to shoot street photography, the more likely you are to make a good photo!

Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is just showing up.” When it comes to street photography do the same: go out and show up, and shoot whatever you find interesting!

Some Weegee photos I love:

4. “Shoot yourself!” – Bruce Gilden

Every photograph you make is a self-portrait of yourself. Why? You will only photograph what you personally find interesting or meaningful. Therefore realize that your own personality is reflected through your photos.

In practical terms:

Only photograph what you personally find interesting; don’t make photos of what you think others will find interesting.

I don’t think there are “good” or “bad” photos; only authentic and inauthentic photos. And you’re the only judge: only you can judge your own photos as authentic or not.

Haiti photos by Bruce Gilden:

5. “Your first million photos are your worst”.

This is a spin off from Henri Cartier-Bresson’s saying, “Your first 10,000 photos are your worst.” Why a million? When HCB was talking about 10,000 photos, he was referring to shooting film. Now with digital and shooting with phones, it is probably closer to a million.

Now this is nice, because it means that there is no “inborn” talent in photography. It is a skill which must be cultivated through practice. The more you shoot, the more you practice, and of course the more you practice, the better you will get!

Takeaway point: Focus on the effort in your street photography. Shoot riskier photos, get closer, engage more with your subjects, and never stop shooting!


Learn From the Masters of Photography

Learn From the Masters: Mobile Edition

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Timeless wisdom from the masters of street photography.

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The Masters of Photography

Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos
Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

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