Some thoughts from the great and the good that, for me, capture the essence of what photography is all about:

Still we know how Day the Dyer works, in dims and deeps and dusks and darks
James Joyce

The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it
Ansel Adams

Photography helps people to see.
Berenice Abbott

The eye should learn to listen before it looks.
Robert Frank

There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.
Ernst Haas

A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.
Diane Arbus

To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability.
Susan Sontag

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.
Dorothea Lange

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

When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.
Robert Frank

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

A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.
Edward Steichen

Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.
Diane Arbus

The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.
Susan Sontag

There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.
Ansel Adams

Once you open the shutter of a camera you have made the first manipulative step away from the real. Any step you take beyond that is really only a relative position on a sequential continuum of possible alteration.
Robert Heinecken

Photography has no rules, it is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved.
Bill Brandt

There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.
Robert Heinecken

What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.
John Berger

Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.
Gary Winogrand

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence
Ansel Adams

A photograph is a moral decision taken in one eighth of a second
Salman Rushdie

(Photography) has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them
Elliott Erwitt

Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships
Ansel Adams

It is better to be a plumber in the daytime so you can be a photographer at night time
Robert Frank

All photographs are self-portraits
Minor White