[1899 – 1984] Hungarian–French photographer, sculptor, medalist, writer, and filmmaker

There are many photographs which are full of life but which are confusing and difficult to remember. It is the force of an image which matter. - Brassai
Amateur Photographer, June 18, 1969.
..the thing that is magnificent about photography is that it can produce images that incite emotion based on the subject matter alone. - Brassai
We should try, without creasing to tear ourselves constantly by leaving our subjects and even photography itself from time to time, in order that we may come back to them with reawakened zest, with the virginal eye. That is the most precious thing we can possess. - Brassai
The precise instant of creation is when you choose the subject. (meaning that the essential thing occurs at the moment when he, the photographer, meets the reality he wishes to capture. - Brassai
Photography in our time leaves us with a grave responsibility. While we are playing in our studios with broken flowerpots, oranges, nude studies and still lifes, one day we know that we will be brought to account: life is passing before our eyes without our ever having seen a thing. - Brassai
Do you know what Picasso said when he looked at my drawings in 1939? “You’re crazy, Brassai. You have a gold mine and you spend your time exploiting a salt mine!” The salt mine was – naturally – photography! - Brassai , Dialogue With Photography by Paul Hill , ISBN: 0948797665 , Page: 39
I like living beings; I like life, but I like to capture it in such a way that the photo does not move. I don't really like the snapshot, the Leica with its 39 views, all of which distract attention. - Brassai
Chance is always there. We all use it. The difference is a poor photographer meets chance one out of a hundred times and a good photographer meets chance all the time. - Brassai
The purpose of art is to raise people to a higher level of awareness than they would otherwise attain on their own. - Brassai
In the absence of a subject with which you are passionately involved, and without the excitement that drives you to grasp it and exhaust it, you may take some beautiful pictures, but not a photographic oeuvre. - Brassai
After twenty years you can begin to be sure of what camera will do. - Brassai
[cited in: Creative Camera May 1972, p. 148]
To keep from going stale you must forget your professional outlook and rediscover the virginal eye of the amateur. - Brassai , The picture history of photography: From the earliest beginnings to the present day by Peter Pollack , ISBN: 0500271011 , Page: 141
lecture given before the Société Française de Photographie.
To me photography must suggest, not insist or explain. - Brassai
In photography you can never express yourself directly, only through optics, the physical and chemical process. - Brassai
I have always refused to specialise. I've always done many different kinds of things: photos, drawings, sculpture, films, books ... In the end, it is hard to have many different talents, because each one wants to monopolise you ... All you can do is try to alternate between them, following your instincts … I'm not afraid that I might be wasting my energy ... I want to be free. - Brassai
l don't invent anything. I imagine everything ... most of the time, I have drawn my images from the daily life around me. I think that it is by capturing reality in the humblest, most sincere, most everyday way I can, that I can penetrate to the extraordinary. - Brassai
My images were surreal simply in the sense that my vision brought out the fantastic dimension of reality. My only aim was to express reality, for there is nothing more surreal than reality itself. If reality fails to fill us with wonder, it is because we have fallen into the habit of seeing it as ordinary. - Brassai
As a photographer, I never restricted myself to a particular subject. I photographed whatever happened to catch my attention: faces, street scenes, landscapes, or any one of the thousands of chance events of everyday life. Art and artists were a part of my own day-to-day life in Paris. - Brassai
I've always hated specialisation. That's why I've constantly changed the medium in which I express myself … That way I can breathe, I can see things anew. - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
I need the subject to be as conscious as possible that he is taking part in an event ... in an artistic act. I need his active collaboration ... - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
I've always felt that the formal structure of a photo, its composition, was just as important as the subject itself. ... You have to eliminate every superfluous element, you have to guide your own gaze with an iron will. - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
My ambition has always been to show the everyday city as if we were discovering it for the first time. - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
In any case, I always took people by surprise, for they never knew at what exact moment I was going to take the shot ... In addition, given the kind of equipment available at that time, I often needed artificial light: so I would have someone to help me who would be holding a magnesium flare. As a result, no one knew when I was going to press the shutter. - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
If you take your inspiration from nature, you don't invent anything, because what you want to do is to interpret something. But still, everything passes through your imagination. What you produce at the end is very different from the reality you started with. - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
Basically, my work has been one long reportage on human life. - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
I wanted to paint. But life in Paris was so interesting, that I couldn't bear to lock myself away and get on with my artwork ... I was much more interested in everything which I saw at night. Those images haunted me... - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
Only photography could provide the intensity and expressive power... - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
There are two gifts which every man of images needs to be a true creator: a certain sensitivity to life, to living things, and at the same time, the art which will enable him to capture that life in a certain specific way. I'm not talking about a pure aesthetics... - Brassai
From the book: Brassai by Jean-Claude Gautrand
I invent nothing, but I imagine everything. - Brassai
A negative doesn’t mean anything for a photographer of my type. It’s the printing by its creator alone that matters. - Brassai
On his stipulation that none of his photographs be printed posthumously
My ambition was always to show aspects of daily life as if we were seeing them for the first time. - Brassai