photography is about capturing souls, not smiles.

91 Best Portrait Photography Quotes & Captions

Get inspired with these 72 portrait photography quotes, plus, 19 short and snappy captions for portraits that you can use on Instagram.

Portrait photography is a blend of art and storytelling. It’s about going beneath the surface and capturing the essence of a subject.

However, as you’ll soon see in this collection of quotes about portrait photography, every portrait photographer has their own unique way of approaching it.

From these insightful and inspirational photography quotes, you’ll find out how the best and most famous photographers turn photographing people into true art.

So, whether you’re looking to develop your own portrait photography philosophy or gather some sparks of inspiration, jump in and start reading.

We’ll also share 19 punchy portrait photography captions for your next Instagram post.

72 Portrait Photography Quotes

what my portraits are made of.

Photo credit: Neosiam

  1. “Photography is about capturing souls, not smiles.” – Dragan Tapshanov
  2. “A good portrait is one that says something about the person. We usually see parts of ourselves in others, so a good portrait speaks to us. It tells us a story.” – Steve McCurry
  3. “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the person in it does.” – Andy Warhol
  4. “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. That’s when you capture them at their most natural.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  5. “A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen
  6. “I don’t take pictures, I create art for your future.” – Philippe Halsman
  7. “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.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  8. “The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.” – Susan Meiselas- Funny photo dump captions
  9. “Every photograph is a battle of form versus content. The good ones are on the border of failure.” – Garry Winogrand
  10. “The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” – Yousuf Karsh
  11. “A portrait is a picture with something wrong with the mouth.” – John Singer Sargent
  12. “In portrait photography, you have the rare opportunity to display a person’s essence, not just their appearance.” – Unknown
  13. “I always prefer to work in the studio. It isolates people from their environment. They become in a sense… symbolic of themselves. I get to capture their essence, free from any distractions.” – Richard Avedon
  14. “In a portrait, you always leave part of yourself behind.” – Mary Ellen Mark
  15. “For me, the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  16. “In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  17. “Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.” – Ansel Adams
    portraits are about revealing aspects of an individual.

    Photo credit: Matheus Bertelli

  18. “There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” – Robert Frank
  19. “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.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  20. “When a portrait evokes a feeling, then you’ve got something. Technique isn’t really important.” – Bert Stern
  21. “The best portrait photography is about capturing a moment of truth between you and your subject.” – Unknown
  22. “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. It’s my way of understanding people.” – Annie Leibovitz – 27 Famous Portrait Photographers (Past & Present)
  23. “The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.” – Scott Lorenzo
  24. “There’s nothing more interesting than the landscape of the human face.” – Irvin Kershner- Funny photography quotes and captions
  25. “To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It’s a way of life.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  26. “It’s a world, someone’s face. When I capture it, I see the future of the world.” – Malick Sidibé
  27. “A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed.” – Richard Avedon
  28. “I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.” – Ellen Von Unwerth
  29. “To see people as they are, as they imagine themselves, as they wish to be. To be a witness, the friend, the judge, the accomplice. To record their moment.” – Annie Leibovitz
  30. “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. The unease, the tension, the nervousness, those emotions are part of the portrait-making process.” – Annie Leibovitz
  31. “A portrait isn’t a fact but an opinion – an occasion rather than a truth. It’s a captured moment in time, seen through the lens of the photographer.” – Richard Avedon
  32. “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.” – Richard Avedon- Mountain captions for inspiration
  33. “Irving Penn said he didn’t want to photograph anyone under 60, and I think there is some truth about it. There’s a depth to the lines of a person’s face that tells their story.” – Annie Leibovitz
  34. “In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody. That quiet moment that speaks volumes about who they are.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  35. “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.” – Richard Avedon
  36. “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. The challenge is to find the balance between flattery and honesty.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson – 27 Flattering Portrait Photography Poses
  37. “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
    a black and white photo of a girl with a quote.

    Photo credit: Omar Alnahi

  38. “The thing that’s fascinating about portraiture is that nobody is alike.” – Imogen Cunningham
  39. “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
  40. “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
  41. “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
  42. “Coming in tight was boring to me, just the face… it didn’t have enough information. I want to capture the whole essence of a person, not just their facial features.” – Annie Leibovitz
  43. “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy
  44. “It takes a long time for a man to look like his portrait.” – James Whistler- Sunset captions for Instagram
  45. “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.” – Richard Avedon
  46. “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.” – Richard Avedon
  47. “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
  48. “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. It’s about capturing more than just their physical appearance. It’s about capturing their essence.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson – Guide to Black & White Portrait Photography
  49. “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
  50. “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
  51. “The severe portrait that is not the greatest joy in the world to the subject may be enormously interesting to the reader.” – Irving Penn
    the tool of self portrait is the mirror you see yourself in turn the other way you see the world.

    Photo credit: Shvets Production

  52. “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
  53. “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
  54. “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
  55. “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.” – Richard Avedon
  56. “What my portraits are made of? 10% showing the reality, 90% showing my philosophy.” – Scuro Chiaro
  57. “When you take a photograph of someone, you take a portrait of their soul.” – Winna Efendi
  58. “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people. Each portrait is a love story in its own right.” – Annie Leibovitz- One word captions for Instagram
  59. “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.” – Annie Leibovitz
  60. “The dog is the perfect portrait subject. He doesn’t pose. He isn’t aware of the camera.” – Patrick Demarchelier
  61. “Portraits are the most intimate photographs. The image will survive the subject.” – Victor Skrebneski
  62. “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.” – Richard Avedon
  63. “Portraits are about revealing aspects of an individual.” – Kehinde Wiley
  64. “The camera has no opinion, no emotion, it just renders — and so the emotional components of a photograph live on each side of the camera.” – Norman Jean Roy
  65. “Remember that the person you are photographing is 50% of the portrait and you are the other 50%. You need the model as much as he or she needs you. If they don’t want to help you, it will be a very dull picture.” – Lord Patrick Lichfield
  66. “A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound.” – Charles Baudelaire
  67. “A portrait is never the person. What is captured, I think, is your relationship with the person.” – Peter Lindbergh- Nature photography quotes and captions
  68. “I seek what lies beneath surface beauty. What interests me are intimate human complexities – the darkness as well as the light. I cannot will this kind of transcendent communication into existence. I have to be open and truly present, and if I am lucky, grace descends. My best photographs are an honest collaboration, and when the viewer also connects, I feel the circle is complete.” – Joyce Tennyson
  69. “Sometimes I enjoy just photographing the surface because I think it can be as revealing as going to the heart of the matter. Every wrinkle, every line, every glint in their eye is a part of the story.” – Annie Leibovitz
  70. “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.” – Annie Leibovitz
  71. “Contrary to common belief, it is impossible to make a representative photograph of someone. A human in all its complexity cannot be represented by a single image. This is absolutely naive and misleading. You can photograph what appears in a magic space you have to create between sitter and photographer.” – Peter Lindbergh
  72. “The reason some portraits don’t look true to life is that some people make no effort to resemble their pictures.” – Salvador Dali

19 Portrait Photography Instagram Captions

portrait of a moment frozen in time.

Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio

  1. “Embracing the art of the soul, one click at a time.”
  2. “Through my lens, I see the world differently.”
  3. “My camera, my brush; your face, my canvas.”
  4. “Portrait of a moment, frozen in time.”
  5. “Capturing the unseen is my specialty.”
  6. “The magic of photography lies in the stories it can tell.”
  7. “One look, a thousand emotions captured.”
  8. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
  9. “Creating memories, one portrait at a time.”
  10. “My camera is the save button for the mind’s eye.”- Cute quotes to use as captions
  11. “Every picture is a piece of my heart.”
  12. “In every face, there’s a story waiting to be captured.”
  13. “Framing life, one portrait at a time.”
  14. “Bringing stories to life with a single click.”
  15. “When words become unclear, I focus with photographs.”
  16. “Beauty can be seen in all things. Seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
  17. “In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.”
  18. “Capturing the soul that lives behind the eyes.”
  19. “My lens. Your story. Beautiful memories.”

Remember, the best captions are those that speak directly from your heart about your art.

So, feel free to customize these as per your style and the mood of the photograph.

8 Tools for Photographers

Check out these 8 essential tools to help you succeed as a professional photographer.

Includes limited-time discounts.

Learn more here
Content Manager

As the Content Manager of Shotkit, India Mantle brings with her a lifelong love for photography that she developed during her childhood, watching her father document their family moments with his Nikon EM. In her free time, you find her enjoying the awe-inspiring natural beauty of her home, Northern Rivers, Australia.

Leave a Comment



Enter your email to be sent
today's Welcome Gift:
19 Photography Tools

🔥 Popular NOW:

Shotkit may earn a commission on affiliate links. Learn more.