WHY MAKE PHOTOGRAPHS?
ICE AND RAIN Iceland, 2018
Why make photographs?
If you are compelled to make photographs, then one of the strongest and most valuable questions you can explore is: Why?
Why make photographs?
Sure, you are compelled to work with the camera.
Yes, you love the way the camera gets you out into the world and exploring places that you wouldn’t otherwise.
Absolutely, the photographic path has opened up your time out in the world and made exploring more exciting.
There are many reasons we can find to answer this question. These answers change depending on where we find ourselves on the photographic path. I’ve had all these answers at various times along the way. These answers are not wrong. But, perhaps they are surface answers. What if we delve more deeply into the Why?
I believe that when we delve more deeply into the Why?, we discover that we are ultimately drawn to photography as a means to express and to communicate.
As humans, we are creative beings. Consciously or not, we are all looking for ways to express and communicate this unique perspective we have on the world. If we are compelled to pick up a guitar and learn to play it, then this is likely and avenue for us to express and communicate in a way that we are unable to in the other areas of our life. If we are compelled to go into the kitchen and learn to cook delicious meals, then this is likely an avenue for us express and communicate with our loved ones and with the world something deeply personal. Something expressive. Something that we are unable to express at work, or at play, or at our typical social gatherings.
As photographers, we are compelled to pick up the camera and go out into the world and work to capture depth and mood and compelling imagery that resonates with a viewer. Why? To express and to communicate something deeply personal. Something communicative as to who we are and what we feel in regards to the world.
Once this is acknowledged, the next questions to delve deeper is apparent:
What do I want to express? What do I want to communicate?
The more attention you bring to this, the clearer it is seen. The clearer it is seen, the more personal and expressive the work naturally becomes. The more personal and expressive the work, the more dynamic, heartfelt, soulful, and alive your images are.
As a photographer, you look at things. You bring more attention and awareness to the world. Your job is to become a more keen observer of life.
Not only the external elements of the world - the skies, seas, forests, fields, and cities. But the internal elements of the world and self too - your thoughts, feelings, emotions, habits, and tendencies. Being a photographer - more importantly, an artist - is being one who looks at things in a more aware and mindful way. In this way, being a photographer is as much a personal inner journey, as it is an outer worldly journey.
Working through the photographic process is to learn more about your self and your place in this world. As you grow photographically, you evolve as a person. As you evolve and become more self aware, this spills back into your photography and your work becomes more lush and full. In this way, each serves the other.