40 Best Ansel Adams Quotes about Photography and Nature

by David Em

Portraits Refined may earn a commission on purchases made from links on this page. For more information, read Affiliate Disclosure.

Ansel Adams was one of the most important and influential American landscape photographers. Get inspired by his best quotes.

Ansel Adams with a camera in front of a tree.
Ansel Adams with his camera. The image first appeared in the 1950 Yosemite Field School yearbook. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Ansel Adams was an incredible landscape photographer best known for his black and white images.

His most famous photographs include Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, Thunderstorm, Moonrise, Hernandez, Aspens, Northern New Mexico, El Capitan, Moon and Half Dome, Dogwood Blossoms, Bridalveil Fall, Half Dome, Merced River, Winter, Winter Sunrise, and Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine.

Adams won several awards, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980 and the Hasselblad Award in 1981.

If you need the inspiration to get your creativity flowing, learn from one of the best photographers to ever live.

The following are the best and most inspiring Ansel Adams quotes.

Best Ansel Adams quotes about photography

1. “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

2. “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

3. “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”

4. “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

5. “A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”

6. “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.”

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

8. “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”

9. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

10. “Some photographers take reality… and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.”

11. “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.”

12. “No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”

13. “Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.”

14. “With all art expression, when something is seen, it is a vivid experience, sudden, compelling, and inevitable.”

15. “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.”

16. “Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.”

17. “When I’m ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I’m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.”

18. “We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium.”

19. “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”

20. “Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.”

21. “A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.”

22. “A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.”

23. “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

24. “Art is both the taking and giving of beauty; the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these.”

25. “I tried to keep both arts alive, but the camera won. I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can!”

26. “I never know in advance what I will photograph… I go out into the world and hope I will come across something that imperatively interests me. I am addicted to the found object. I have no doubt that I will continue to make photographs till my last breath.”

27. “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”

28. “Ask yourself: ‘Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream?'”

29. “The tendency towards automatism in the cameras discourages creativity.”

30. “How high your awareness level is determines how much meaning you get from your world. Photography can teach you to improve your awareness level.”

Inspiring Ansel Adams quotes about nature

1. “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”

2. “I believe in beauty. I believe in stones and water, air and soil, people and their future and their fate.”

3. “You don’t improve nature. You reveal your impression of nature or natures impact on you.”

4. “There are no forms in nature. Nature is a vast, chaotic collection of shapes. You as an artist create configurations out of chaos. You make a formal statement where there was none to begin with. All art is a combination of an external event and an internal event.”

5. “I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful – an endless prospect of magic and wonder.”

6. “The whole world is, to me, very much ‘alive’ – all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can’t look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life – the things going on – within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.”

7. “Let us leave a splendid legacy for our children…let us turn to them and say, this you inherit: guard it well, for it is far more precious than money…and once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.”

8. “No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.”

9. “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”

10. “Today, we must realize that nature is revealed in the simplest meadow, wood lot, marsh, stream, or tidepool, as well as in the remote grandeur of our parks and wilderness areas.”

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and advice to grow your photography business. Learn more about Portraits Refined