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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi, 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