The Best Ansel Adams Quotes


What Are Your Favorite Ansel Adams Quotes?

Ansel Adams | By photo by J. Malcolm Greany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Ansel Adams | By photo by J. Malcolm Greany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Ansel Easton Adams (20 February 1902 – 22 April 1984) was an photographer and environmentalist known for his iconic black and white photos of the American West.

It’s highly likely that you’ll recognize his photos, but if you’re unfamiliar with his work visit His nature images are inspiring.

Below you’ll find a selection of the best Ansel Adams quotes:

  • Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs. 
  • It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. 
  • You don’t take a photograph, you make it. 
  • I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful – an endless prospect of magic and wonder. 
  • It is all very beautiful and magical here – a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breathe it, let the sun bake into you. 
  • Once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price. 
  • There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. 
  • In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration. 
  • A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into. 
  • Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. 
  • It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument. 
  • I believe in beauty. I believe in stones and water, air and soil, people and their future and their fate. 
  • 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.
  • A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words. 
  • There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. 
  • The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it! 
  • There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. 
  • Wilderness is rapidly becoming one of those aspects of the American dream which is more of the past than of the present. Wilderness is not only a condition of nature, but a state of mind and mood and heart. It cannot be confined to the museum-case status—seen only as a passing diorama from superlative throughways. 
The Tetons And Snake River by Ansel Adams | Ansel Adams [Public domain], <a href="" srcset=
via Wikimedia Commons” width=”300″ height=”240″> The Tetons And Snake River by Ansel Adams | Ansel Adams [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • I believe photography is a tool to express our positive assessment of the world. A tool to acquire ultimate happiness and belief. 
  • Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter. 
  • As the fisherman depends upon the rivers, lakes and seas and the farmer upon the land for his existence, so does mankind in general depend upon the beauty of the world about him for his spiritual and emotional existence. 
  • A good photograph is knowing where to stand. 
  • The ‘machine-gun’ approach to photography – by which many negatives are made with the hope that one will be good – is fatal to serious results. 
  • Photograph not only what you see but also what you feel.
  • Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art. 
  • Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum. 
  • The artist and the photographer seek the mysteries and the adventure of experience in nature.

Which of these Ansel Adams quotes is your favorite? Did we miss any quotes that we should add to the list? Tell us in the comments below.

To read more about Ansel Adams, pick up one of many books on Learn more about Ansel Adams on and at

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