Why Do You Love Photography?

A figure descends the spiraling steps of an old building under renovation, New Orleans. (Copyright 2009 / Andrew Boyd)

A figure descends the spiraling steps of an old building under renovation, New Orleans. (Copyright 2009 / Andrew Boyd)

To me, this is the most-basic of all photographic questions: why do we do it? What is it about the act of photography that we find so attractive as to be irresistible? Do you ever wonder why you pursue this art form (or craft form, as the case may be)?

Here as 2009 draws to a close I find myself contemplating this issue once again. It’s a question that I find tantalizing to consider, since the answer to the question tells me as much about myself and my own yearnings and aspirations as it does about anything else. Truly holding a mirror up to the soul, I think.

I spend a lot of time as a paid photographer, working at a major American daily newspaper. On the good days, some of the answers on my list below come into play. On the other days….well, it pays the bills (mostly).

For me this is multi-faceted, this answer. So here goes:

I love the problem solving.

Photography is all about finding solutions to what’s in your viewfinder: composition, lighting, movement, color. I love this process more than maybe anything else. It makes me feel alive.

I love the hunt.

The Dumaine Gang Social Aid and Pleasure Club second lines its way through the crowd on the first Friday of Jazz Fest, April 25, 2009. (Copyright 2009 / Andrew Boyd)

The Dumaine Gang Social Aid and Pleasure Club second lines its way through the crowd on the first Friday of Jazz Fest, April 25, 2009. (Copyright 2009 / Andrew Boyd)

For a great photograph, that is. When we photograph, we document life happening before our eyes. It’s dynamic, fluid, and we must react to what’s happening before us to capture its essence.

I love the act of composing.

A fisherman with cast net at dawn, Mandeville, Louisiana, April 2009. (Copyright 2009 / Andrew Boyd)

A fisherman with cast net at dawn, Mandeville, Louisiana, April 2009. (Copyright 2009 / Andrew Boyd)

Compositional problem-solving. There really are no ‘rules’ are there? Just as there really aren’t any ‘lighting formulas’. Keep from getting mentally stuck. Look for the new approach in the old.

I love the physical act of seeing the light, really seeing it and using it.

Afternoon light with thunderhead clouds, Lake Pontchartrain north of New Orleans, Louisiana, 2009. (Copyright 2009 / Andrew Boyd)

Afternoon light with thunderhead clouds, Lake Pontchartrain north of New Orleans, Louisiana, 2009. (Copyright 2009 / Andrew Boyd)

Light is the very essence of all photography, without it, we have no photographs. Working with the light, dancing with light and shadow, this is at the heart of what we do.

I love the interaction with subjects.

portrait

Portrait session, 2008. (Copyright 2009 / Andrew Boyd)

Working with a person you are photographing, getting them to relax, open up to you and your camera. For me, this is one of the joys of being a photographer.

I love the camaraderie.

I know a lot of photographers. And I can say without hesitation that they are, as a group, some of the most hard-working, creative, unassuming and fun people you’d ever want to be around.

I love the challenge.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Farve gets hugged by Don Beebe , foreground, and other Packers, after rushing for a second quarter touchdown against the New England Patriots in Superbowl XXXI at the Louisiana Superdome, Sunday, January 26, 1997. (Copyright 2009 / The Times-Picayune & Andrew Boyd)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Farve gets hugged by Don Beebe , foreground, and other Packers, after rushing for a second quarter touchdown against the New England Patriots in Superbowl XXXI at the Louisiana Superdome, Sunday, January 26, 1997. (Photo by Andrew Boyd, Copyright 2009 / The Times-Picayune)

This is especially true with sports photography. Capturing meaningful, story-telling images, distilled out of what’s after all only a game, can be the hardest thing you’ll ever attempt. The great sports photos are only sometimes of the peak action. Frequently they’re found in the reaction to what has occurred on the field or court.

I love how a good session of shooting makes me feel truly alive and in touch with my inner nature.

This can be true after a quiet day of photography in the woods, after a big news or sports assignment, after a day shooting tabletop in the studio. You’ve brought the sum of your experience, expertise and creativity to the task at hand and you’ve produced images that you find truly satisfying.

Why do you love about photography? What is it about the photographic process that you find so compelling? Is it a take-it-or-leave-it hobby, or truly one of your life’s obsessions? Share your thoughts on this,  I really would like to hear what it is that drives you to shoot.

selfport1aHi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The  Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: Inspire

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

6 Comments on "Why Do You Love Photography?"

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  1. dan morrill says:

    I just love photography – you capture moments, moments that are unique and individual. You capture moments that will never come back, never be repeated, or you can show the inherent beauty in things that we often miss in our daily lives.

  2. Stephanie Bruno says:

    I love photography because beauty – life – culture – New Orleans are all ephemeral. One day you see something, the next day it’s gone or altered. I like to preserve the image of the object even if I can’t preserve the object itself. To remember what the reality was before it because what it is. To ensure continuity, only if visual

  3. Truer words were never spoken, Stephanie! Thanks!

  4. christine says:

    I am not a photographer but I really love photography. For me it is the way of expressing what you feel within,appreciating the beauty and expressing creativity. –Memories of experiences, places, family & friends, we could never turn back time! —
    We can treasure it by those photos we had took and
    with photography we bring beloved nature scenes.

  5. Chris says:

    I believe the reason why you have good shots is your passion towards photography. There is a connection between you and the subject which I think is the most important factor for a beautiful output. I like your style ad outlook towards photography. Inspiring.

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