Portrait Photography Quotes for Instagram

Michael • updated November 15, 2022 • 10 min read

portrait photography quotes for Instagram

Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, adding a quote to a portrait photo can give it more meaning.

If you’re tired of coming up with portrait photography from scratch, you don’t have to keep looking. We’ve put together a list of the best Instagram quotes from famous photographers.

Many of these quotes can be used as part of the caption section in your Instagram post. Just make sure that your quotes or portrait photography captions kinda adds something to your portrait photo.

What is a portrait photograph quote?

When you quote, you use the exact words of a speaker or writer. A quote is also a repeated passage or statement. To quote something means to use it as proof. Quote can also be used as a verb and a noun in a number of other ways.

Learn how to successful post on Facebook or Instagram!

Portrait photography quotes for Instagram from Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French cameraman and one of the best street photographers, was inspired by the fine arts, literature, and philosophy.

He was a pioneer of the 35 mm medium and is regarded as the father of modern photojournalism, the most dramatic type of fine art photography. He is also known as the “street photography” master.

No other photographer has shown such unerring skill at capturing the “decisive moment,” that fleeting period when all the moving parts of a picture are in harmony.

We have a article that shows you how to outdoor portrait photography.

  • “In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody.”
  • “The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. It’s a question mark you put on somebody. Trying to say, “Who is it? What does it amount to? What is the significance of that face?” The difference between a portrait and a snapshot is that in the portrait, the person has agreed to be photographed.”
  • “The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.
  • “Think about the photo before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You mustn’t go too fast. The subject must forget about you.”
  • “I like to take pictures of people in their environment – the animal in its habitat. It is fascinating coming into people’s homes, and looking at them. But you have to be like a cat. Not disturb. On tiptoes, always on tiptoes. It’s like a biologist and his microscope. When you study the thing, it doesn’t react the same way as when it is not being studied. And you have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt, which is not an easy thing.”
  • “It seems dangerous to be a portrait artist who does commissions for clients because everyone wants to be flattered, so they pose in such a way that there’s nothing left of truth.”

Portrait photography quotes for Instagram from Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is a famous American portrait photographer who was born in Connecticut in 1949. During the Vietnam War, Leibovitz was stationed in the Philippines, where she took her earliest images.

Leibovitz began his career as a photographer for Rolling Stone magazine in 1970. She moved on to Vanity Fair in 1983 after three years and was designated the magazine’s chief photographer. She was influenced by in particularly by Richard Avedon and Henri Cartier-Bresson. 

The Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art all have collections of Annie Leibovitz’s images.

Read all about how to snap beautiful self portraits.

  • “To see people as they are, as they imagine themselves, as they wish to be. To be witness, the friend, the judge, the accomplice. To record their moment.”
  • “Irving Penn said he didn’t want to photograph anyone under 60, and I think there is some truth about it.”
  • “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”
  • “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.”
  • “As soon as you engage someone, their face changes. They become animated. They forget about being photographed. Their minds become occupied and they look more interesting. But I’m so busy looking, I can’t talk. I never developed that gift.”
  • “Sometimes I enjoy just photographing the surface because I think it can be as revealing as going to the heart of the matter.”
  • “Coming tight was boring to me, just the face… it didn’t have enough information.”
  • “In a portrait, you have room to have a point of view and to be conceptual with a picture. The image may not be literally what’s going on, but it’s representative.”
  • “I’m pretty used to people not liking having their picture taken. I mean, if you do like to have your picture taken, I worry about you.”

Portrait photography quotes for Instagram from Richard Avedon

Avedon was born in New York City on May 15, 1923. He was most recognized for his minimalist portraiture and work in the fashion industry. He started out taking identity shots for the Merchant Marines as a photographer.

He subsequently transitioned to fashion, photographing for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and he insisted that his models express emotion and movement, breaking from the standard of still fashion photography.

Check out this detailed guide on how to take candlelight portraits to learn how to go about this.

  • “A portrait isn’t a fact but an opinion – an occasion rather than a truth.”
  • “A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he’s being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks. He’s implicated in what’s happened, and he has a certain real power over the result.”
  • “A portrait photographer depends upon another person to complete his picture. The subject imagined, which in a sense is me, must be discovered in someone else willing to take part in a fiction he can’t possibly know about. My concerns are not his. We have separate ambitions for the image. His need to plead his case probably goes as deep as my need to plead mine, but the control is with me.”
  • “I think I’m sort of a reader – I used to love handwriting analysis. But that’s nothing compared to reading a face. I think if I had decided to go into the fortune-telling business, I would have probably been very good. What happens to me in work – I look for something in a face, and I look for contradiction, complexity. Something’s that are contradictory and yet connected.”
  • “You can’t get at the thing itself, the real nature of the sitter, by stripping away the surface. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface. All that you can do is manipulate that surface – gesture, costume, expression – radically and correctly.”
  • “My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. But whenever I become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, I feel I’ve lost what’s really there…been seduced by someone else’s standard of beauty or by the sitter’s own idea of the best in him. That’s not usually the best. So each sitting becomes a contest.”
  • “There is no truth in photography. There is no truth about anyone’s person. My portraits are much more about me than they are about the people I photograph. I used to think that it was a collaboration, that it was something that happened as a result of what the subject wanted to project and what the photographer wanted to photograph. I no longer think it is that at all.”
  • “And he said, “I hate that picture. It doesn’t look like me.” Well, for a very smart man to think that a picture is supposed to look like him… would you go to Modigliani and say, “I want it to look like me?”
  • “I always prefer to work in the studio. It isolates people from their environment. They become in a sense… symbolic of themselves.”
  • “I’ve worked out of a series of no’s. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these no’s force me to the “yes.” I have a white background. I have the person I’m interested in and the thing that happens between us.”
  • I“ am not necessarily interested in the secret of a person. The fact that there are qualities a subject doesn’t want me to observe is an interesting fact. Interesting enough for a portrait. It then becomes a portrait of someone who doesn’t want something to show. That is interesting.

Portrait photography quotes for Instagram from Peter Lindbergh

Peter Lindbergh, a German filmmaker and photographer, was born in Poland in November 1944. He worked for the Karstadt and Horten department shops in Duisburg as a window dresser.

He developed a love for photography in 1971, and for two years he worked as Hans Lux’s assistant in Düsseldorf, Germany. Interested in more history? Check our when did portrait photography start here!

More interesting stuff, when Lindbergh relocated to Paris in 1978, she started working for international Vogue, which published issues in English, German, French, American, and Italian. Later, he held positions with The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Allure. 

  • “I feel more and more, that it is about photographing this “magic space”, situated between the photographer and the subject he’s photographing and not about the “architecture” of faces.”
  • I“ think that everyone is closer to themselves when exposed to the feeling of melancholy; something more poetic takes place as you are giving up control of yourself and expose deeper feelings and emotions to the man with the camera in front of you. The space between the photographer and his subject, this is what you photograph. It is not the outside bone structure of the face you photograph; it is the invisible part of the subject you capture if he or she is willing to give it to you.”
  • “Laughter has zero value for me in portraits or my other photographs, there’s so much to see in faces that are not laughing. When someone’s laughing that’s all you see and that ruins the rest.Photographing someone laughing has no appeal to me, fine if they laugh but for a portrait, I need all those manifold beautiful layers, which is obscured by that thing people call laughter.”
  • “A portrait is never the person. What is captured, I think, is your relationship with the person.
  • “The photographer, even in fashion and portraiture, has to have a standpoint. It’s important to know what you stand for, no? Most people just take pictures but they stand for nothing. They follow trends and don’t know why.”

     “Photography gives you the opportunity to use your sensibility and everything you are to say something about and be part of the world around you. In this way, you might discover who you are, and with a little luck, you might discover something much larger than yourself.”

  • “The woman is always more important than the clothes.”

  • “Now people ask whether photography is art, but I think the question is of absolutely no interest.”

  • “I bought my first camera to photograph my brother’s children. I learned a lot from that experience. The value of innocence and of not being focused on yourself, and I have to say that these things have remained with me to this day. I can immediately feel when someone is putting on a camera face.”

  • “Photography is no longer a love affair with the beauty of reality.”

  • “I didn’t take inspiration from other photographers, which in a way helped to find my own images.”

  • “Your inspiration is better if it comes from many different sources and your sensibilities will transform all those influences and inspiration into your own visual world. It’s like reading the book instead of watching the movie.”

 

Tools to bring your portrait photography to life

Portrait photography quotes for Instagram other famous Photographers

  • “Photography is about capturing souls, not smiles.
    My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse, and entertain.”
    Helmut Newton

 

  • “The portrait photographers that we tend to idolize have a great sense of design and compassion. I think the marriage of compassion and design is really what makes, in my opinion, a really wonderful moment.”
    Mark Seliger

 

  • A“ portrait can go wrong because the sitter doesn’t let himself go. Even a tiny gesture, a light relaxation, a very small movement can lead a sitting in the right direction. A good portrait is the rapport that is established between two people, there has to be someone in front of the camera and someone behind it.”
    Jeanloup Sieff

 

  • “A portrait must get beyond the almost universal self-consciousness that people have before the camera. If at some moment of reality… did not happen, you had to provoke it in order to… awaken a genuine response.”
    Edward Steichen

 

  • “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
    Paul Caponigro

 

  • “… success in photography, portraits especially, is dependent on being able to grasp those supreme instants which pass with the ticking of a clock, never to be duplicated – so light, balance – expression must be seen – felt as it were – in a flash, the mechanics and technique being so perfected in one as to be absolutely automatic.”
    Edward Weston

 

  • The thing that’s fascinating about portraiture is that nobody is alike.”
    Imogen Cunningham

 

  • “What I do in all my portraits is to try to stay out of it. I try to catch people the way they are.”
    Mark Carder

 

  • “I always take portraits in my sitter’s own surroundings. I concentrate very much on the picture as a whole and leave the sitter rather to himself. I hardly talk and barely look at him.”
    Bill Brandt

 

  • “If it’s a likeness, alone, it’s not a success. If, the … success in photography, portraits especially, is dependent on being able to grasp those supreme instants which pass with the ticking of a clock, never to be duplicated – so light, balance – expression must be seen – felt as it were – in a flash, the mechanics and technique being so perfected in one as to be absolutely automatic.”
    Edward Weston

 

  • “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
    Matt Hardy

 

  • “It takes a long time for a man to look like his portrait.”
    James Whistler

 

  • “The tool of every self-portrait is the mirror.
    You see yourself in it. Turn it the other way, and you see the world .”
    Agnes Varda

 

  • “I always take portraits in my sitter’s own surroundings. I concentrate very much on the picture as a whole and leave the sitter rather to himself. I hardly talk and barely look at him.”
    Bill Brandt

 

  • “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
    Paul Caponigro

 

  • “In portrait photography there is something more profound that we seek inside a person, while being painfully aware that a limitation of our medium is that the inside is recordable only insofar as it is apparent on the outside…Very often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.”
    Irving Penn

 

  • “What is a portrait good for, unless it shows just how the subject was seen by the painter? In the old days before photography came in a sitter had a perfect right to say to the artist: “Paint me just as I am.” Now if he wishes absolute fidelity he can go to the photographer and get it.”
    Aubrey Beardsley

 

  • “The severe portrait that is not the greatest joy in the world to the subject may be enormously interesting to the reader.”
    Irving Penn

 

  • “When I take a black-and-white portrait, it’s not particularly meant to please you. It’s meant to talk to you; it’s meant to shame you. It’s meant to scream out at you, and it has a message.”
    Don McCullin

 

  • “Success in photography, portraiture especially, is dependent on being able to grasp those supreme instants which pass with the ticking of a clock, never to be duplicated – so light, balance – expression must be seen – felt as it were – in a flash, the mechanics and technique being so perfected in one as to be absolutely automatic.”
    Edward Weston

 

  • “A true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, the Testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.
    Philippe Halsman

 

  • “For me, a portrait is something from which you feel the person, their inner quality, what it is that makes them who they are.”
    Herb Ritts

 

  • “A photographic close-up is perhaps the purest form of portraiture, creating a confrontation between the viewer and the subject that daily interaction makes impossible, or at least impolite.
    Martin Schoeller
  • “What my portraits are made of? 10% showing the reality, 90% showing my philosophy.”
    Scuro Chiaro

 

  • “When a portrait evokes a feeling, then you’ve got something. Technique isn’t really important.”
    Bert Stern

 

  • “When you take a photograph of someone, you take a portrait of their soul.
    Winna Efendi

 

  • “The dog is the perfect portrait subject. He doesn’t pose. He isn’t aware of the camera.”
    Patrick Demarchelier

 

  • “Portraits are the most intimate photographs. The image will survive the subject.”
    Victor Skrebneski

 

  • “Portraits are about revealing aspects of an individual.”
    Kehinde Wiley

Random Portrait Photography Quotes for Instagram

  • “Get out there and take a portrait”
  • “Look for the magic in every portrait”
  • “But first, let me take a portrait”
  • “I don’t always take a portrait, but when I do…”
  • “What do you think of this portrait?”
  • “A good portrait isn’t always easy but the time is worth it”
  • “Is this a stunning portrait – yes or no?”
  • “What do you think of this photo?”
  • “How gorgeous is this portrait?”
  • “The smile in the portrait can change the world”
  • “Is tough but so are my portraits”
  • “If you don’t believe in your portrait photography, who will?”
  • “This portrait seems to be impossible until I did it”
  • “This portrait is the reason why I smile everyday”
  • “Always wanted to be one of those photographers taking those awesome portraits”
  • “Stunning portrait – here we come!”
  • “If you’re looking for beauty, you’ll find it in this portrait”
  • “Good mood, good portrait”
  • “Want to be happy? Look at this portrait”
  • “The journey taking this portrait was the best part”
  • “This portrait sums up my entire week”
  • “Don’t Study my portrait photo. You won’t Graduate!”
  • “Good Times + great portrait= Great Memories!”

Further readings:
More about Peter Lindbergh
More about Henri Cartier-Bresson
More about Richard Avedon
More about Annie Leibovitz

More about interesting stuff about quotes:
150+ Aesthetic Quotes for Instagram
The 22 Best Pinterest Quotes to Brighten Your Day
50 Best Self Love Quotes and Captions for Instagram
18 Alice in Wonderland Quotes
36 of the Most Inspiring Rosh Hashanah Quotes
60+ Best Inspirational movie quotes

 

Keep reading: How to Start with Portrait Photography »

What are your portrait photography quotes for Instagram? Let us know in the comments.

By Furoore team member Michael
Furoore Team is here to assist you in capturing the most significant moments in your life. To create exciting photographs, discover photography guides, find unique photo ideas, and limitless image inspiration.

Turn your snapshots into awesome portraits.

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