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My Thoughts on Photography
Why do I take photographs? I think this is a difficult question for me. I feel that for many, it has to do with the art of photography. At some point in their lives they were drawn to something about the art of making a picture. Seeing the world unfold in front of them, framing it in their minds and then capturing a sliver of it with their camera.
To some, photography has become their job. Full time professionals who will use the camera to create and bend reality in front of them to extract an image. I tend to think of these people as the portrait photographers or the atypical wedding photographers. For other professionals, they will photograph exactly what they see and how it unfolds in front of them. Where the elements or scenes are beyond their control and their purpose is to record it, both for documentary or for artistic reasons. Whatever the reason, I think most of us have humble beginnings of what drove us to pick up a camera and start taking photos.
For me, photography is part art and part purpose driven. The art of my photography comes from what I see that intrigues me. A line, a shadow, a face, a sunset or a sunrise, fog, a mountain, and so forth. As you can tell, it can be just about anything. Personally I enjoy the genre of street or documentary photography, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying other forms. To be able to see something that catches your eye and to be able to photograph it is something that I will always enjoy doing.
The one thing I don’t want my photography to be is a burden. Meaning, I want to continue to enjoy taking photo’s without being forced to take a photo. There are those in the industry whose sole job is to take photos. I worry that sometimes this takes some of the fun out of the art and turns it into nothing more than a 9 to 5 job. Where the thought of picking up a camera feels burdensome and what one used to enjoy no longer illicit’s that same feeling it once did. I feel that this is one of the reasons that I don’t want to make photography as a job and would rather it remain a hobby (at least for now).
In my short career as a hobbyist photographer, there are moments that really aren’t as pretty or picturesque as we’d like to have them. A lot of times we take photos of things or places as part of our vacation or a memorable moment. You know those types of photo’s. The ones where your parents made you stand by a sign or or some landmark or those family portraits during the holidays. So why do we take those? Most often they reside in a photo album (or in our phones, cloud, memory cards, etc…) and never really see the light of day very often beyond that. Never really to be viewed again. So why take them at all? At the time it seemed like a good idea to take the photo, but why? What was the purpose of taking it if we have no intention of using it for anything?
This is where the purpose driven portion of photography kicks in. I think in these moments, a photograph is being used as a record of events. It’s a record of you being there and bearing witness to it at that moment and at that time. The photo itself may have no artistic merit to it, but it has perhaps something much more substantial to it. Maybe just a personal memory.
Sometimes that photo doesn’t even directly relate to the memory. It might trigger a thought of something that occurred at that time. Perhaps a good meal right before the picture was taken. Nowadays we take a picture of just about everything, including the food we ate. Whatever the case, some of these photo’s cary important memories in our lives. Or sometimes, they are just memories that we’d like to keep.
I think a lot of times, I will take a photo because I like what I see or think that it’s an important moment that requires a photo. Then I will delete it later because I don’t really like the output. But I need to remember that I didn’t necessarily take that photo because I wanted a print worthy photo, I wanted the memory. And by deleting it, I may delete that memory from my mind later and I definitely don’t want to do that. Old age will eventually do that for me, so why would I willingly accelerate it?
Keep shooting to remember why.