If you know me, then you know I love a good one-liner.
In fact, I put together what may be the best collection of portrait photography quotes in history.
But even I can get sick of hearing the same old pearls of wisdom from the same old boomers.
So I’ve upgraded 10 great photography quotes so they make more sense in our modern photography world.
I urge you to read them now and become inspired to make 2020 your best year of photography ever!
#1: “F/8 and be there.”
-Arthur “Weegee” Fellig.
2020 Version: “F/0.95 and be there.”
Weegee is often credited as the originator of “f/8 and be there.” But if he saw lenses like the Nikon NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95, he’d certainly change his tune.
#2: “After a number of years, it came to me that it all boiled down to light, gesture, and color.”
2020 Version: “After a number of years, it came to me that it all boiled down to bokeh, microcontrast, and cinematic color grading.”
Jay Maisel is a living legend and a huge inspiration to me… but he clearly underestimates the power of a shallow depth of field and making everything teal and orange.
#3: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
2020 Version: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, get a 200-600mm zoom lens and make things easy on yourself.”
Why would you zoom with your feet when you can zoom with your lens? Duh!
#4: “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”
2020 Version: “The best one is the one I’m recommending in this YouTube video. I’ve only used it for 20 minutes and barely know how to work it, but please click the link in the description so I can get an Amazon affiliate commission. And don’t forget to smash that like button!”
Sorry Chase Jarvis! You obviously do not know how to recommend a new camera!
#5: “A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it; it is in one word, effective.”
Upgraded for 2020: “A good photograph is one that attracts enough likes and comments to get me on Instagram’s Explore page.”
Mr. Penn was notoriously reclusive, but even he would be at risk of developing Instagram Derangement Syndrome.
#6: “Your first 1,000 photographs are your worst.”
Upgraded for 2020: “Your first 1,000,000 photographs are your worst.”
Sir, my camera shoots 20 frames per second and I have a lot of hard drive space. I can do 1,000 bad photos before my first pee break.
#7: “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
Upgraded for 2020: “The best thing about a picture is that I can do anything I want to it in Photoshop.”
I just pulled up some pictures of my no good ex-wife. Thanks to Liquify, she just gained 25 pounds. I can’t wait to tag her on Instagram!
#8: “I work in color sometimes, but I guess the images I most connect to, historically speaking, are in black and white. I see more in black and white – I like the abstraction of it.”
-Mary Ellen Mark
Upgraded for 2020: “I work in color sometimes, but I prefer black & white because it makes people think I’m artsy.”
Not everyone can be an artist. But you can at least look like one by shooting in black & white only, and making a big deal about it.
#9: “Photography has no rules, it is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved.”
Upgraded for 2020: “Photography has no rules, it is not a sport. But it’s fun to go on the Internet and tell people they’re doing things the wrong way.”
There are a million ways to light, compose, and post-process photographs. But there’s only one right way: my way!
#10: “Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”
Upgraded for 2020: “Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Or, just buy an iPhone 11 Pro, which can take care of everything for you.”
Why on Earth would I learn about light when I can fix everything with a tap of my finger on my iPhone?
Which of these 10 “fixed” quotes inspires you most? Let me know in the comments section below!
About the Author
Michael Comeau is the Editor of OnPortraits.com, an online community dedicated to simple, classic portrait photography. You can click here to download their free eBook “37 Weird Tips for Better Portrait Photography.” This article was also published here and shared with permission.
[lead image credits: Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash]