Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Quick Quotes: Paul Strand

“The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep. “

- Paul Strand

I’ve always enjoyed and embraced the idea that the role of the artist is to make the mundane beautiful and that to create art one need not journey to far away places (though those journeys can and do inspire). Still, it is much easier to make the exotic beautiful than it is to add beauty and mystery to the mundane.

Quick Quotes: William Thakeray

“The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.”
~ William Thackeray

It’s been some time since I last posted a photography quote and I found this one quite compelling. To me it means that the most compelling photographs are the ones that depict the exotic in a way that connects with people and makes them feel a sense of personal involvement as well as ones that depict common things and locations in a way that lets people see beauty in the mundane.

Quick Quotes: David duChemin

“Comparison to others is the diet of a creative soul that’s dying on the inside. Comparing yourself to others will steal your voice, or so infect it with the desire to do what they’re doing, or do it like they’re doing , that the things that made your voice what it was in the first place will die of starvation”

David duChemin in The Visual Voce

I wanted to share this quote by David duChemin, which was said in relation to finding one’s personal artistic and photographic voice. It seems particularly apropos in this age of social media and ‘Instagram Influencers’. And it isn’t so much a statement about social media itself as it is about how we can use and abuse it (says the blogger with his social media links below the post - though I have been spending less time on general social media and focusing more on specific groups).

Also of interest is the short book by Trey Ratcliff entitled ‘Under the Influence - How to Fake Your Way into Getting Rich on Instagram: Influencer Fraud, Selfies, Anxiety, Ego, and Mass Delusional Behavior’ in which he exposes the ‘dark underbelly’ of Instagram. The book is available on Amazon and is a very interesting read.

Quick Quotes: Minor White

"Everything has been photographed. Accept this. Photograph things better."

Minor White

In this age of intensive social media, where people seem to be in a race to photograph places that are more and more exotic, out of the way, and difficult to get to…….it is perhaps a good time to remember that the degree of difficulty in obtaining a photograph does not directly correlate with how good or emotionally moving it is. The greatest challenge, in my mind, is to stay where you are and photograph and make beautiful the nuances of the everyday things around you. To see them in a fresh way.

Remember that everything HAS already been photographed.

Quick Quotes: Don McCullin

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”

Don McCullin

I couldn’t agree with this more. It’s step one to making a meaningful photograph. Another way of saying that it is important to go ‘beyond the handshake’!

Quick Quotes: Arnold Newman

“A lot of photographers think that if they buy a better camera they’ll be able to take better photographs. A better camera won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart”.

-Arnold Newman

So true. When people ask me if they should get a better camera I usually tell them that these days, unless there is some very specific and special attribute they are looking for, all a better digital camera will do is to allow the images to be printed larger. And if you are going to print them large they ought to be good to start with. It’s really difficult to make an excellent photograph.

Back to the heart thing :)

Quick Quotes: Alfred Steiglitz

I realized that it really has been quite some time since I published one of my photography "Quick Quotes".  So here we go:

"As a matter of fact, nearly all the greatest work is being, and has always been done, by those who are following photography for the love of it, and not merely for financial reasons. As the name implies, an amateur is one who works for love."

Alfred Steiglitz

So there you couldn't come on better authority!

Quick Quotes: Morley Baer

"Quit trying to find beautiful objects to photograph. Find the ordinary object so you can transform it by photographing it."

Morley Bayer

My interpretation: you don't have to run to Antarctica or even Iceland to make great photos. Look in the woods near your house. The ones that you can walk to. There's great stuff there. And you can really get to know it and visit in all kinds of conditions. It's just harder to make a great photograph there because you've seen it so many times. Familiarity breeds complacency. And because there's not a 100 foot waterfall there. Well, not in my woods anyway.

However, you can go on line and find thousands of images of icebergs and penguins in Antarctica, but probably only a couple hundred shots of those woods near your house. There is opportunity there. 

I'm rambling a flow of thought. But I think there is something to it!

Quick Quotes - Kurt Vonnegut

Go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the showrer. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Kurt Vonnegut

I happen to see this quote posted on Facebook, of all places. I love Kurt Vonnegut's novels and I love this quote. If ever one needed a reason to photograph, there it is!

Quick Quotes: Arnold Newman

"Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world."

Arnold Newman

I am always looking for quotes about photography and truth. This one says it with no holds barred.

Newman is one of the greatest portrait photographers of our time. One of his most noted portraits is that of Alfred Krupp, a German industrialist who had been a Nazi and used slave labor during WWII. Newman was taking Krupp's portrait for Newsweek and took the opportunity to use photography to make Krupp look like the devil, and Newsweek did publish the portrait!

Here, from his New York Times obituary in 2006:

"................Perhaps the most famous was a sinister picture of the German industrialist Alfried Krupp, taken for Newsweek in 1963. Krupp, long-faced and bushy-browed, is made to look like Mephistopheles incarnate: smirking, his fingers clasped as he confronts the viewer against the background of a assembly line in the Ruhr. In the color version his face has a greenish cast.

The impression it leaves was no accident: Mr. Newman knew that Krupp had used slave labor in his factories during the Nazi reign and that he had been imprisoned after World War II for his central role in Hitler's war machine.

"When he saw the photos, he said he would have me declared persona non grata in Germany," Mr. Newman said of Krupp......."

© Arnold Newman

© Arnold Newman


And the story in Newman's own words, during an interview:

If you happen to subscribe to the blog by email, the video and its link will not come over....visit the main blog at to watch the two minute story.

Quick Quotes: Painters And Writers Edition

Today, as a break from images, I wanted to offer some quotes that have moved me and made me think about expression in photography.....but this time from artists that are not photographers; though the medium really doesn't matter. From words to paints to pixels, the reasons for expressing are the same.

"I shut my eyes in order to see"

Paul Gaugin

"Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun"

Pablo Picasso

"No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist."

Oscar Wilde

"The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable."

Robert Henri

All four quotes, I believe, really point to ideas worth contemplating.

Quick Quotes: Guy Tal

The point of living a creative life - rather than just engaging in creative pursuits on occasion - is not merely to produce aesthetically pleasing artifacts, but to bind one's creative work and living experience as two dimensions of the same life in all its details, always unfolding and evolving in parallel. 

Guy Tal

The photographs - mine and others - that I consider most favorably are not those that merely serve as visual trophies for enduring some difficulty or experiencing a stroke of good luck, nor those relying entirely on interest and aesthetics inherent in the things photographed. Rather, they are those photographs that express a photographer's passion for - and harmony with - the life they live and the things that make such a life better and elevated in their own mind: not photographs of objective things, but photographs about subjective things.

Guy Tal

I thought these two quotes from Guy Tal's recent LensWork monograph offered quite a bit to think about in terms of how to breathe life into one's photographs.

Quick Quotes: Bruce Barnbaum

Moonrize, Hernandez, New Mexico    © Ansel Adams

Moonrize, Hernandez, New Mexico    © Ansel Adams

".....people feel that Ansel's famous 'Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico' was a special moment in time when, in fact, it's an image so greatly manipulated that it can truthfully be stated that the moment never occurred. It was largely created. The actual moment was used as a starting point for the image, while the image is a dramatic alteration of the starting point. It is a wonderful interpretation of that moment by Ansel."

Bruce Barnbaum

I don't think there was ever a time when creative choices didn't play a role in fine art photography. From time to time I reference my article 'Photography And Truth', and this quote applies to that concept quite aptly.

Quick Quotes: Galen Rowell

I began to realize that the camera sees the world differently than the human eye and that sometimes those differences can make a photograph more powerful than what you actually observed.

Galen Rowell

I read this quote by Galen Rowell and said to there is part one of the answer to the eternal, infernal question "did it really look like that?"

Quick Quotes: Julian Scnabel

Traditionally, photography is supposed to capture an event that has passed; but that is not what I'm looking for. Photography brings the past into the present when you look at it.

Julian Schnabel

This quote really speaks to me.  At first glance the two ideas may seem similar, but they are different as night and day. To capture the past means you can look at and remember it. To bring it into the present means that, to some extent, you can re-experience it.

Quick Quotes: Irving Penn

A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it.

 Irving Penn

It is incredibly difficult to make a really good photograph.  Communicating a fact is easy, touching the heart is more difficult, leaving the viewer a changed person is something to aspire to......

Quick Quotes: David Bailey

Photography is (a means by which we)...learn to see the ordinary.

David Bailey

I love this quote because it speaks about what photography means to me. It is when I'm out with my camera that I really begin seeing and start to realize the potential of what things can truly look like if viewed in different ways. Funny how you sometimes have to put something in front of your eyes in order to use them to their fullest.

Quick Quotes: Don McCullin

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
Don McCullin

I think that this is the key initial step to making photographs that effectively communicate something. I believe it goes for any type of image: portraits, landscapes, macro, sports. Anything. Extraordinarily well said by Don McCullen!