This question was begging to be answered. I suddenly had a burning desire to know “the why’s” for which I do what I do. Even though I had an idea of why, did I truly know the reason?..
Why does photography matter so much to me?
Why do I even bother waking up before sunrise? Is it worth it to brace whatever weather may come? The dry humid summers, the bitter cold winters and everything in between? Putting it all off and sleeping in is much more attractive.
To be completely honest, my inner-critic talks me out of getting outdoors with the camera: every. single. time. You wage war with yourself just to stay at home once again but until you overcome that hunch, you’re creatively deadlocked and will never further progress as an artist.
I don’t believe I have ever truly regretted going out to photograph. A lot of days start out with me being tired and cranky, but by the end I am still tired, yet fulfilled and satisfied. Big difference for sure.
In order to nurture this symbiotic relationship with the art-form and life itself. I sat down for about half an hour and jotted away in my journal. Paper and pen seemed to be the best medium in which to start this journal prompt before being translated to the keyboard and screen. I had to strike a delicate balance between my thoughts racing to “throw up” on the page before my hand could even keep up. Once I started, there was really no stopping..
Four pages later, I had a sufficient enough response. Here it goes.
“Photography is important to me in that it gives me an excuse to get off my behind and explore the outdoors. This hobby seemingly overnight carved a divine and special niche in my psyche to where it is now a lifestyle. No other artistic mediums have quite dug deep enough into my soul as this one has. Through photographs, I am given a second chance to cherish and relive those would-be forgotten memories I have experienced. A new appreciation is gained for how small and insignificant we all are in the grand scheme of things. Putting ourselves into perspective of which we must be eternally grateful every passing moment from which we breathe.
Photography gives me a voice and a platform of sorts from which to speak and share. Photography gifts me with better vision, both in the spacial/seeing sense as well as the acute mental awareness. The world we inhabit is perfect in its’ imperfections, beautiful as it is ugly. Therein lies the solution: the actual act of pressing the shutter is a combination of numbers and technical know-how. The other side of the coin is the creative inspiration and driving motivation to express your ideas.
Photography seems like it should be work. Don’t get me wrong, this is perhaps the most challenging task I have endured in my entire life. The stress and decisions made everyday want me to throw in the towel. For some reason, photography still feels like play. More than it should, drop me in a natural setting and my eyes widen up like a child in a candy store. How is it that something so mentally-taxing and draining be so creatively and existentially rewarding?
Photography harnesses a possessive undertone between the capture; this is my photograph, my unique vision and ideas poured in and bleeding into fruition. Literally no one else can produce the same image. A dozen other photographers could attempt to capture the same scene and their sets of eyes would automatically see something different. The collective results would be so far removed from one another! If I’m quite honest, there is a sense of ownership and entitlement in that sentiment. This isn’t to say my work is any good or particularly better than anyone else’s. It means that “I created this” from which there is an obligatory responsibility to own up to the artwork produced.
Photography for me is to acquire an intensive thirst to explore and an innate curiosity to learn. To go on an adventure, one does not have to travel far away to realize these desires exist. If you are strong-willed enough, you will make this become your reality. A backyard can quench this thirst with a myriad of photographic subjects. I could spend all my time here and still would have more than a lifetime’s worth of inspiring photos! Think about this: we all have 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year. The only exception being is the different stages of age and life we may be involved with. For me, photography fulfills this existential craving to preserve my memories, to preserve some sort of legacy. Once again, not because I am an idol but rather a legacy to prove my own inner worth. I may very well die with a camera in my hand and would full and well accept that possibility. Regardless of subject, barring any self-imposed genres or labels. At the end of the day, I feel internally invigorated everytime I get to hold a camera, no matter where it may be pointed at.
Photography is an art using mechanical tools. This little box with folding mirrors and prisms somehow becomes an extension of my life. Sometimes you don’t need a reason. No one is forcing me to travel down this path…this path chose me. The ball is in my court, and I took it and ran with it.
Photography showed me the lights and shadows of my existence without me asking for that guidance. In return I will show the camera the best use of what light and shadow is given.”
I could’ve wrote ad infinitum about this topic but there needed to be a finite ending of sorts.
I would insist that you go on a reality check every once in a while with this question. This has helped “ground” me more and more in what I do. Ask the difficult questions: Are you still having fun? What could I do to improve? What do I not like shooting? Etc.
Listen with both your heart and mind as you click that shutter, and you will certainly never be wrong.
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