[1899 – 1986] American free-lance and documentary photographer

These days I think the composers of music influence me more than any photographers or visual creators. I see something exciting or lovely and think to myself: 'If Papa Haydn or Wolfgang Amadeus or the red-headed Vivaldi were here with a camera, they'd snap a picture of what's in front of me.' So I take the picture for them. - Ralph Steiner
I say to young photographers, 'What in God's name are you doing, taking a picture of a tree or a mountain? That's crazy! What you should do is take a person by the hand and show him the tree or the mountain itself. Why show him a stupid picture? It's flat and it's tiny compared to the mountain. The mountain is magnificent and has power . . .' They look at me as if I'm nuts. They don't know what to say back to me. So I go on to say that the reason you show someone a photograph is because a photograph is part of a human being--you--and as people we're more interested in human beings than we are in mountains. By showing a picture, you're showing an x-ray of your heart. The very silent, marvelous American painter, Edward Hopper, put it very simply. He said, 'The work's the man. You can't get something out of nothing.' - Ralph Steiner
Eventually I discovered for myself the utterly simple prescription for creativity; be intensly yourself. Don't try to be outstanding; don't try to be a success;don't try to do pictures for others to look at- just please yourself. - Ralph Steiner
A Point of View
If I were to teach, I wouldn't teach a course in photography. I'd teach a course called 'What Matters.' - Ralph Steiner