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If Ansel Adams was still alive, he would have turned 110 today. To commemorate the life of an amazing photographer, I’d like to share my top 10 Ansel Adams quotes.

Usually I would say what I think about each quote and how you can learn something from it but, today, I thought that I would try something different and see what you think about them. Leave a comment below letting me know which is your favourite and why you like it. 


Ansel Adams is a black and white photographer, best known for his landscapes and development of the Zone system. For those of you who don’t know, the Zone system is a way of properly exposing the photo in a final print; not dissimilar to how HDR photos work today.

He died in 1983 but his work continues to live on today and his reputation will remain for many years to come.

Ansel Adams Quotes

‘A good photograph is knowing where to stand.’

‘Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.’

‘A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.’

‘There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.’

‘Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.’

‘Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer—and often the supreme disappointment.’

‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it.’

‘There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.’

‘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.’

‘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.’

Top 10 Ansel Adams Quotes

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

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Hey I'm Josh, I'm Photographer in Chief here at ExpertPhotography, and I'm in charge of making sure that we provide you with the best content from the most knowledgeable photographers in the world. Enjoy the site :)

  • Wajid

    Its so hard to pick one. ‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it’ and ‘A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words’ would be my picks.

  • Tom

    Thank you for sharing these. The one about dodging and burning made me smile. The one about no one ever approaching the limits of the medium made me pause and think for a long while.

    My own favorite from Ansel Adams is this:
    “The negative is the score. The print is the performance.”

  • i like the one about there being no rules for good photographs, only good photographs.


  • Joseph

    Thanks….Made my morning

  • Nils

    Picking quotes from a photographer is an ironic exercise, but here is my favorite: “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

  • Luke

    “A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.” I can relate to this so much, seeing a photo that just cannot be described and doesn’t need a description to be brilliant at first sight.

  • A good photograph is knowing where to stand

  • Another great quote is

    “One of the most important pieces of equipment, for the photographer who really wants to improve, is a great big wastepaper basket.”
    -Ansel Adams

  • michael croghan (snapper)

    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. something to achieve – new to and loving my journey so far in photography – i aim to be the greatest if not the best i can be

  • Lee

    Im so happy to have “stumbled upon” you 🙂

  • Santosa Laksana

    Still do not understand, so no comment ….. Josh.
    But you have activities that are great for photography, I am very impressed with you.

  • stannatravel

    Wonderful man, outstanding photographer AND many of his quotes about the environment and government are still VERY relevant today. Many Thanks

  • sandrinehg

    Incredible work and man! Check out his video + portfolio on All about photo: