The advice I like to give to young artists, or really anybody, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.

All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens.

But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.

— Chuck Close
“Anyone can take pictures. What’s difficult is thinking about them, organizing them, and trying to use them in some way so that some meaning can be constructed out of them. That’s really where the work of the artist begins.”
— Lewis Baltz
“When photography is good, it’s pretty interesting, and when it is very good, it is irrational and even magical…nothing to do with the photographer’s will or desire. When the photograph happens, it comes easily, as a gift that should not be questioned or analyzed.”
— Elliott Erwitt
“You put your camera around your neck in the morning along with putting on your shoes, and there it is: an appendage of the body that shares your life with you.”
— Dorothea Lange
“Cameras are like dogs, but dumb, and toward quarry, even more faithful. They point, they render, and defy the photographer who hopes.”
— Tod Papageorge
“I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known awaits just around the corner.”
Alex Webb
“To me, photography is a simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event, as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.”
— Henri Cartier-Bresson
“The people in front of the camera are the most important people, not the photographer, no matter how heralded he is.”
— Gordon Parks
“Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves…When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
— C. S. Lewis

If I ever teach a photography course, I’ll make all my students read this on Day 1.

”It’s important to be cultivated. In my opinion, reading and considering great literature is the best way to do this, but there are many ways to deepen your understandings and your capacity to feel and notice. If you are cultivating yourself, the chances are greater that the work you end up doing will be worth doing as far as others are concerned. It’s best not to ask how your work will be received by the world or how it might boost your reputation. Just stay close to your own guidance and see what comes. Be authentic and natural – it sounds easy enough but it actually takes some discipline and courage. If you are able to quiet yourself and be honest with yourself, then it will be easier for you to embark on a project that truly excites you and rewards you.“