Why We Photograph

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Photography is a part of the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the globe. The widespread availability and ease of owning a camera is a product of the digital age – and aren’t we all so fortunate for it. Whether you have a simple point and shoot to capture family moments and day to day ramblings or a multi-thousand dollar medium format with a digital back for large production advertising, photography touches all of us. It begs the question, why do we photograph?

For some it’s as necessary as breathing. It’s as much a part of who we are as the clothes we wear, the music we listen to, the friends we associate with and the values we hold dear. It’s who we are. To others it’s an enjoyable hobby or past-time – a great way to spend some free time or a way to capture little family moments. Whatever your personal level of involvement in photography is, taking photos is something we all love to do.

Perhaps there is a deeper psychological explanation. Our time on this earth only lasts for so long, and a camera allows us to preserve memories far past when they might have slipped our mind. It helps us pass those memories into the hands of future generations. Our photos are little legacies of the life we have led – our travels, experiences, food, family, friends, work relationships and more. Each photo is a window into a moment, and the collections of images we take over the years are a window into who we were and what we valued. Ultimately it comes down to a simple truth – seeing that moment captured makes us genuinely happy.

Photography should make you happy. Never let someone impede on your personal happiness. You love HDRs and someone else doesn’t – who cares? You are enamored with landscapes but your friends think they’re droll – don’t let it bother you. You’re a fashion nut but no one gets your style – just keep being you. Enjoy your photography for what it is – your own. Know that not everyone will appreciate it, but if it personally fulfills you, that’s all that truly matters. Be true to yourself and you’ll never regret a day of your life.

Share with us, why it is you photograph.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Matt Dutile is a New York City based travel and lifestyle photographer. He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a book on Mongolian nomads. Check the page out to learn more. You can view his website or join in on his Facebook page as well.

  • Trep Ford

    Awesome article. You rock. Sometimes photographers, with their interest in technology, tend to be a bit “stick in the mud-ish”. Always nice to hear such a clearly expressed statement of “be who you are”-ness. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Shailesh

    A picture is better than a thousand words. That is why!

  • I photograph to capture beauty.

    And as a result, I am more aware of the beauty around me.

  • I photograph because I want to finish my P365 ๐Ÿ˜›
    any comments would be appreciated. I am trying to select one of each week so please feel free to see all 5 weeks from the blog. In fact I am trying to follow the sugested 52 themes from dps.

    ciao

    http://1year365fotos.blogspot.com/2011_01_16_archive.html

  • I photograph for many different reasons. It’s challenging, fun, peaceful and most important, helps me to see things from a different perspective ๐Ÿ™‚

  • For me, it’s about connection. I want connection with my subject and my world.

  • Donalee Eiri

    I have always had an interest in photography since I was in elementary school. I continue taking photographs but I do it now with a passion that I have never felt before. I feel like a sponge ready to soak everythng in. I have been receiving this newsletter for over a year and honestly, I havenโ€™t read it. I am at a time in my life where everything has been turned upside down and I am starting over. I am 50. I believe in fate and that everything happens for a reason. This question of why I shoot photographs has recently come up for me several times.

    After great thought this is what I understand of myself. I love taking photos. I love making people happy. I like being able to capture a moment and know it is forever. It is not for anything monetary. It is all very emotional and all very selfish. It is also a way for me to be in social setting without having to interact. It is a way for me to face my fears without having to make myself completely vulnerable. When I am behind my camera, I feel safe. I am never really alone when I have my camera.

    I look forward to taking an active part in this website from here on.

  • Photographers generally represent three personality archetypes.

    First, they are Magicians. They love the mysterious alchemy of making pictures with light, lens, chemicals, etc.

    Second, they are Artists. They love to capture something beautiful and to share it with others.

    Finally, they are Sages. They love to teach others the tips and techniques, and generally share their wisdom and the fun of this wonderful hobby/profession/passion we call photography.


    –Peter

    Peter A. Schaible
    SunDance New Media

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  • I enjoy photography because it has helped me see. In other words, what previously has just passed by as background now becomes an object of interest. I find this communion with the real world to be deeply spiritual and satisfying. In some respects, the results of my photography – the pictures themselves – are secondary to the process of placing myself somewhere or in front of someone and taking the photographs.

  • eric

    thanks for the inspiration…. not everyone is mad about your style…. who cares, I like it.

  • I photograph because it makes me happy. I love to capture a moment in time and share it with others. My goal is to capture beauty in all of it’s forms along with an emotion. I too am learning. I’m learning techniques. I’m still learning my camera, and most of all, I’m learning about myself.

  • DeHart

    Photography is one’s way of expressing that moment in time and making it possible to share with others. No two people see each situation the same!

  • i enjoyed photography when i was younger but lost interest because someone said you’re always taking pictures /have started again because i wanted to take pics again and then i realized i could learn a lot with digital plus when i take a picture and it comes out good i feel as if i’ve captured part of gods great creation
    also a few positive compliments inspired me too

  • Patricia Reesby

    Very well said. Life is “maya” and everything changes, we can keep nothing and we are not here forever, at least in our present forms. But taking photos gives us a way of keeping and recording the past. I have thrown out many of my old diaries and other written stuff, but find it hard if not impossible to throw out old photos. These days I’m taking photos of young grandchildren, and of course they change almost daily. Photographs are a ‘snapshot’ of moments that have passed, for of course, the moment the photo is taken, the moment has already gone.

  • I was at a major cross road in my life. I needed something that would give me a chance to escape the pressures of everyday, while creating a result that made me proud and was life affirming. That is what photography did for me: it saved my life.

  • Marc-Phillip Miller

    There are only four reasons to photograph:

    1. Someone is paying you
    2. You want to document something (Historical, scientific, etc.)
    3. You want to preserve memories (snapshots)
    4. For aesthetic appreciation

    Most photo enthusiasts are operating in the fourth group — they’re making or trying to make beautiful pictures. They’ll deny they’re artists, and you’ll never get them to call their products “art,” but what do you call images for the beauty they may contain?
    Does that mean they’re good? No way. Judged as art, 99 percent of photography is crap. It is the most imitative, un-original, un-authentic “art” in existence. Most photographers wouldn’t know an original idea if it bit them, and are simply trying to produce photographs like photographs they’ve seen before. They have no personal vision. They hop from subject-to-subject, always reacting to the moment, never photographing with any plan in mind.

    That’s one reason critiques always miss the point. A photographer will show a picture like a thousand other pictures you’ve seen, and the comments will be, that it would be a better picture if exposure was adjusted, or if the photographer used the Rule of Thirds, or some other compositional device. No one will ever ask the most important questions: “Why did you choose this subject? What are you trying to do with it? Why did you take this picture?”

    Because no one will ask those questions of us, we have to ask them of ourselves Instead of these important questions, we talk about cameras, tools and techniques. We never talk about what you’re trying to accomplish. Imagine painters talking about brushes. Brushes are certainly important to painters, but they’re not more important than ideas, and approaches to the subject of the painting.

  • frank

    Taking it to a zen level, photography trains me to look for things of beauty in the world. Whether I have a camera with me or not, when I come across Beauty it makes me smile and I am happy with the world. Thank you, photography.

  • Laura

    For years and years I have taken snapshots of memories which I had always loved doing. Then when I got my first digital camera and a whole new passion was discovered. I now see the whole world around me in a different light. Things I wouldn’t really notice I now have a whole new appreciation for. I’ve always loved nature, but now I can spend hours just in my backyard! And I wouldn’t be caught dead on our boat without my gear. When I drive down the street and spot a certain scene, like a small child pushing a baby sibling in a stroller, I see it through fresh eyes and think…”Damn! that would be such an adorable shot!” It’s an addiction as much as a passion, the capturing of special moments, emotions, landscapes, nature, events…whatever! And to be able to share those shots with friends and family who enjoy it makes it even more worth it.

  • shmac

    Nice article. I agree with a lot of the points made. For me, it is pretty much necessary. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t take pictures. It’s a hobby…that also preserve memories! I just find it so much fun to try to make the most out of something (mostly in nature), and try to make something that other people will enjoy too.

  • Truer words could not be spoken, it’s who we are. I couldn’t think of a day that didn’t pass having my camera with me in my daily travels living here in Alaska. From the mountains to the many wildlife oppertunitys to the many birds I love to watch and photograph. This is my life as well as both my wifes and mine passion to capture a moment in time to share with others who don’t get to see or will have such thrilling moments spent photographing bald eagles, bears moving freely and our favorite following the moose every chance we can. It’s what we leave behind for others to see. we simply were caretakers of outdoors to share with others who may not get that chance in life.

  • I like to capture moments in time to keep, so I can look at them and reminisce. It’s also a form of creativity that I think I can do somewhat well (and I’m getting better at it all the time).

  • Deb B

    I love photography…it’s my sanity.

  • Two others have recognised a reasoning that I share. Its capturing those beautiful moments that nature provides, endlessly, and its my challenge to witness as many moments, so on those moments of true beauty I can firstly see them for my own eyes and secondly capture as much of what I have seen so as to both share that moment with others and have the opportunity to revisit said moments, endlessly.

  • Mark

    I use to blast down the interstate highways with tunnel vision and only the start and finish as goals. Now I look around and slow down. I see FRAMES everywhere and snap tons of them in my mind. I also now set goals to go into nature to see what I can find. In good weather, I am out shooting about three days a week where in the past before photography, I would sit at home trying to avoid pain. Now I see hawks and eagles, deer and raccoon, song birds, wading birds, nature in its infinite variety. By keeping busy, the pain is less and I am healthier for the experience in both mind and body. What others think of my photos is irrelevant. The doing is the important part.

  • Colin

    At a ripe 78 years old my life is 90% past and maybe 10% future. If I get lucky !

    Memories of times past are extremely valuable as they were in the main the happy times, the travelling times, the family -growing- up times. I get great staisfaction now from the photos I took during the last fifty years and for you younger photographers this is one of the reasons why you SHOULD be pressing that button. For ‘happy snaps’ and ‘record shots’ as well as to satisfy your art leanings. We all have some degree of art leaning and sure, I try to do the best I can with my bridge Pentax X 70 camera and PSE7, but those earlier less sophisticated images right back to a Voigtlander Vito 35mm in 1956 – after many happy hoiurs digital scanning them and editing them – are worth while as well as the crafted ‘images’ we strive for now. I may even defy the Gods and make the leap to a DSLR, if I can get it past the Treasurer.

  • Thank you all for sharing so many great reasons why you photograph!

  • I got my first DSLR camera this Christmas and it changed my life.

    I remember trying out a selection of DSLR’s in the camera store by walking around the mall and taking photos. Suddenly, I was seeing a burst of images in my mind’s eye. Everything I was looking at : the escalator panels, the reflection on the columns, the pattern on the ceiling – they were all different. I became so much more aware.

    I then went shopping in a popular tourist market in Hong Kong and I took my camera for fun. I blew 3 hours just taking photos of everything I saw. I probably annoyed my mom a little bit but it was worth it. Later that night I was lying on my bed describing to my mom how I felt. It was so difficult to articulate. In the end, all I could manage to say was: “With the camera in my hands, I felt so much more awake.”

    It’s all about being in the present. Passion consumes you, and something within you stirs. It’s fascinating.

  • arun natarajan

    useful article….made me think a lot…when i take photos,no one appriciates me,no one even bothers to think who took this photo,but the sence of njoyment and love towards photography drives me to take more photos..

  • dave arienda

    i shoot ,,simply because it makes me happy … i don’t care if shoot is not great like a pro,,
    its my other way of showing my emotion … ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Photography is art and I love being creative!!

  • Paul

    It’s a way to express myself. And that’s what I do when I press the button. I capture life the way I see it right in that moment.

  • Sonia Robinson

    I photograph that which stirs my emotions. It relieves stressful ones. And it’s a record for the future for when – or if – memories fade. And the repeats beat those on T.V.

  • Meiki

    To the Greater Glory of my Creator.
    And for my family album.
    And for my and my co-photographers delight.
    N.B. This are not contradictions

  • A lot of times my love of taking that photo is because that moment something looks so beautiful. I want to capture it and the joy and anticipation comes when I see if it came out on the screen the way I was hoping or sometimes it comes out even more beautiful than I thought it would.

  • Leon L. Nery

    WHY DO I TAKE PICTURES
    First, I have a camera. Supply creates its own demand.
    Second, I take pictures of things/events/ moments that appeal to my heart or head or both.
    Third, I frame and focus the subject through my camera’s viewfinder. If necessary, I make other adjustments that is afforded to me by the camera (aperture, speed, ISO, etc.)
    Finally, I release the shutter at the right moment.
    If I like the captured image, I enjoy it. That is why I take pictures.
    WHY PEOPLE CLIMB THE MOUNTAINS? BECAUSE ITS THERE!

  • Ross E. McClain

    I agree. I truly enjoy capturing the moment and sharing with others. I am an avid wildlife/outdoor photo buff. Sometimes I sit out in the woods for hours with my dog taking pictures of birds, deer, flowers, etc…
    I am always so happy when that one good shot is captured and you can recreate the mood.
    As Ansel Adams said, “I try to convey not only what I see in the photo, but also what I feel”….
    I take my “nature” walk every day and no matter what the weather or temperature, there is always something worth shooting. I hope to continue for many years to come.

  • Linda Petersen

    With a camera, I look at everything with different eyes. It’s as if looking through the lens carries me to a different level of being, takes me out of my day-to-day-everyday-busyness, to stop and look, to really see what’s in front of me in the moment……and then to be able to bring it back again and again in the captured image.

  • Linda Petersen
  • Omg, this article totally sums up my thoughts and feeling of photography. And I really am kind of upset that people around me don’t understand why I love photography. I tried explaining and they just keep telling me that it’s not an important thing.. ):

    And when I bring my camera around with me, my friends laugh at me and say “What’s so interesting about this object (that I’m taking picture of)?”

    They just don’t understand. but I know there are people out there that does and I’m happy. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Rika Erasmus

    What a wonderful article. I love all the answers and every one is true. I also now have a digital after many years of not being able to afford film developing. I”m so greatful for the people that set the paths and the “rules” and endured all the film hardships – because now I can benefit from it – thank you to you all.
    I love photography because it gave me something worthwhile to do ehen I lost my ability to do all the wonderful things of the past. And wow, what an eye opener – I’ve learnt a lot about myself – and not being so confident as I always thought I am. It opened a world of colour, and possibilities and challenges.
    I was giving thought to selling my camera when I read this. Thanks for touching my heart and restoring myself. greatfully your’s

  • Omair Khan

    Photography it’s a lifestyle & enjoyable thing i love to do it everyday & make beauty in everything BTW these are a wonderful words

  • James

    It is nothing so profound as some of these others. With me it is simply the desire to share with the world the things that I see and they don’t because their lives get in the way. A way to enrich their love of beauty that the world has to offer.

  • I photograph because I can’t sing or dance.

  • Steve Read

    I photograph because I have to do something with all this equipment I keep buying!!

Some Older Comments

  • Steve Read August 25, 2012 07:40 am

    I photograph because I have to do something with all this equipment I keep buying!!

  • Nathan October 7, 2011 07:53 am

    I photograph because I can't sing or dance.

  • James September 12, 2011 03:13 pm

    It is nothing so profound as some of these others. With me it is simply the desire to share with the world the things that I see and they don't because their lives get in the way. A way to enrich their love of beauty that the world has to offer.

  • Omair Khan May 29, 2011 05:10 am

    Photography it's a lifestyle & enjoyable thing i love to do it everyday & make beauty in everything BTW these are a wonderful words

  • Rika Erasmus February 21, 2011 11:38 pm

    What a wonderful article. I love all the answers and every one is true. I also now have a digital after many years of not being able to afford film developing. I"m so greatful for the people that set the paths and the "rules" and endured all the film hardships - because now I can benefit from it - thank you to you all.
    I love photography because it gave me something worthwhile to do ehen I lost my ability to do all the wonderful things of the past. And wow, what an eye opener - I've learnt a lot about myself - and not being so confident as I always thought I am. It opened a world of colour, and possibilities and challenges.
    I was giving thought to selling my camera when I read this. Thanks for touching my heart and restoring myself. greatfully your's

  • EstherT February 21, 2011 01:26 am

    Omg, this article totally sums up my thoughts and feeling of photography. And I really am kind of upset that people around me don't understand why I love photography. I tried explaining and they just keep telling me that it's not an important thing.. ):

    And when I bring my camera around with me, my friends laugh at me and say "What's so interesting about this object (that I'm taking picture of)?"

    They just don't understand. but I know there are people out there that does and I'm happy. :D

  • Linda Petersen February 13, 2011 11:59 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/onepointofview/5255999010/

  • Linda Petersen February 13, 2011 11:52 am

    With a camera, I look at everything with different eyes. It's as if looking through the lens carries me to a different level of being, takes me out of my day-to-day-everyday-busyness, to stop and look, to really see what's in front of me in the moment......and then to be able to bring it back again and again in the captured image.

  • Ross E. McClain February 13, 2011 03:42 am

    I agree. I truly enjoy capturing the moment and sharing with others. I am an avid wildlife/outdoor photo buff. Sometimes I sit out in the woods for hours with my dog taking pictures of birds, deer, flowers, etc...
    I am always so happy when that one good shot is captured and you can recreate the mood.
    As Ansel Adams said, "I try to convey not only what I see in the photo, but also what I feel"....
    I take my "nature" walk every day and no matter what the weather or temperature, there is always something worth shooting. I hope to continue for many years to come.

  • Leon L. Nery February 12, 2011 01:49 pm

    WHY DO I TAKE PICTURES
    First, I have a camera. Supply creates its own demand.
    Second, I take pictures of things/events/ moments that appeal to my heart or head or both.
    Third, I frame and focus the subject through my camera's viewfinder. If necessary, I make other adjustments that is afforded to me by the camera (aperture, speed, ISO, etc.)
    Finally, I release the shutter at the right moment.
    If I like the captured image, I enjoy it. That is why I take pictures.
    WHY PEOPLE CLIMB THE MOUNTAINS? BECAUSE ITS THERE!

  • Brenda February 12, 2011 01:23 pm

    A lot of times my love of taking that photo is because that moment something looks so beautiful. I want to capture it and the joy and anticipation comes when I see if it came out on the screen the way I was hoping or sometimes it comes out even more beautiful than I thought it would.

  • Meiki February 12, 2011 12:05 am

    To the Greater Glory of my Creator.
    And for my family album.
    And for my and my co-photographers delight.
    N.B. This are not contradictions

  • Sonia Robinson February 11, 2011 10:40 pm

    I photograph that which stirs my emotions. It relieves stressful ones. And it's a record for the future for when - or if - memories fade. And the repeats beat those on T.V.

  • Paul February 11, 2011 10:17 pm

    It's a way to express myself. And that's what I do when I press the button. I capture life the way I see it right in that moment.

  • Tilana Stander February 11, 2011 09:12 pm

    Photography is art and I love being creative!!

  • dave arienda February 11, 2011 05:22 pm

    i shoot ,,simply because it makes me happy ... i don't care if shoot is not great like a pro,,
    its my other way of showing my emotion ... :-)

  • arun natarajan February 11, 2011 03:55 pm

    useful article....made me think a lot...when i take photos,no one appriciates me,no one even bothers to think who took this photo,but the sence of njoyment and love towards photography drives me to take more photos..

  • Kelly Robinson February 11, 2011 02:23 pm

    I got my first DSLR camera this Christmas and it changed my life.

    I remember trying out a selection of DSLR's in the camera store by walking around the mall and taking photos. Suddenly, I was seeing a burst of images in my mind's eye. Everything I was looking at : the escalator panels, the reflection on the columns, the pattern on the ceiling - they were all different. I became so much more aware.

    I then went shopping in a popular tourist market in Hong Kong and I took my camera for fun. I blew 3 hours just taking photos of everything I saw. I probably annoyed my mom a little bit but it was worth it. Later that night I was lying on my bed describing to my mom how I felt. It was so difficult to articulate. In the end, all I could manage to say was: "With the camera in my hands, I felt so much more awake."

    It's all about being in the present. Passion consumes you, and something within you stirs. It's fascinating.

  • Matthew Dutile February 11, 2011 01:58 pm

    Thank you all for sharing so many great reasons why you photograph!

  • Colin February 11, 2011 01:55 pm

    At a ripe 78 years old my life is 90% past and maybe 10% future. If I get lucky !

    Memories of times past are extremely valuable as they were in the main the happy times, the travelling times, the family -growing- up times. I get great staisfaction now from the photos I took during the last fifty years and for you younger photographers this is one of the reasons why you SHOULD be pressing that button. For 'happy snaps' and 'record shots' as well as to satisfy your art leanings. We all have some degree of art leaning and sure, I try to do the best I can with my bridge Pentax X 70 camera and PSE7, but those earlier less sophisticated images right back to a Voigtlander Vito 35mm in 1956 - after many happy hoiurs digital scanning them and editing them - are worth while as well as the crafted 'images' we strive for now. I may even defy the Gods and make the leap to a DSLR, if I can get it past the Treasurer.

  • Mark February 11, 2011 11:01 am

    I use to blast down the interstate highways with tunnel vision and only the start and finish as goals. Now I look around and slow down. I see FRAMES everywhere and snap tons of them in my mind. I also now set goals to go into nature to see what I can find. In good weather, I am out shooting about three days a week where in the past before photography, I would sit at home trying to avoid pain. Now I see hawks and eagles, deer and raccoon, song birds, wading birds, nature in its infinite variety. By keeping busy, the pain is less and I am healthier for the experience in both mind and body. What others think of my photos is irrelevant. The doing is the important part.

  • Matt February 11, 2011 09:54 am

    Two others have recognised a reasoning that I share. Its capturing those beautiful moments that nature provides, endlessly, and its my challenge to witness as many moments, so on those moments of true beauty I can firstly see them for my own eyes and secondly capture as much of what I have seen so as to both share that moment with others and have the opportunity to revisit said moments, endlessly.

  • Deb B February 11, 2011 09:14 am

    I love photography...it's my sanity.

  • Michele February 11, 2011 08:33 am

    I like to capture moments in time to keep, so I can look at them and reminisce. It's also a form of creativity that I think I can do somewhat well (and I'm getting better at it all the time).

  • Todd Michael Katke February 11, 2011 07:07 am

    Truer words could not be spoken, it's who we are. I couldn't think of a day that didn't pass having my camera with me in my daily travels living here in Alaska. From the mountains to the many wildlife oppertunitys to the many birds I love to watch and photograph. This is my life as well as both my wifes and mine passion to capture a moment in time to share with others who don't get to see or will have such thrilling moments spent photographing bald eagles, bears moving freely and our favorite following the moose every chance we can. It's what we leave behind for others to see. we simply were caretakers of outdoors to share with others who may not get that chance in life.

  • shmac February 11, 2011 07:00 am

    Nice article. I agree with a lot of the points made. For me, it is pretty much necessary. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't take pictures. It's a hobby...that also preserve memories! I just find it so much fun to try to make the most out of something (mostly in nature), and try to make something that other people will enjoy too.

  • Laura February 11, 2011 06:59 am

    For years and years I have taken snapshots of memories which I had always loved doing. Then when I got my first digital camera and a whole new passion was discovered. I now see the whole world around me in a different light. Things I wouldn't really notice I now have a whole new appreciation for. I've always loved nature, but now I can spend hours just in my backyard! And I wouldn't be caught dead on our boat without my gear. When I drive down the street and spot a certain scene, like a small child pushing a baby sibling in a stroller, I see it through fresh eyes and think..."Damn! that would be such an adorable shot!" It's an addiction as much as a passion, the capturing of special moments, emotions, landscapes, nature, events...whatever! And to be able to share those shots with friends and family who enjoy it makes it even more worth it.

  • frank February 11, 2011 06:23 am

    Taking it to a zen level, photography trains me to look for things of beauty in the world. Whether I have a camera with me or not, when I come across Beauty it makes me smile and I am happy with the world. Thank you, photography.

  • Marc-Phillip Miller February 11, 2011 06:22 am

    There are only four reasons to photograph:

    1. Someone is paying you
    2. You want to document something (Historical, scientific, etc.)
    3. You want to preserve memories (snapshots)
    4. For aesthetic appreciation

    Most photo enthusiasts are operating in the fourth group -- they're making or trying to make beautiful pictures. They'll deny they're artists, and you'll never get them to call their products "art," but what do you call images for the beauty they may contain?
    Does that mean they're good? No way. Judged as art, 99 percent of photography is crap. It is the most imitative, un-original, un-authentic "art" in existence. Most photographers wouldn't know an original idea if it bit them, and are simply trying to produce photographs like photographs they've seen before. They have no personal vision. They hop from subject-to-subject, always reacting to the moment, never photographing with any plan in mind.

    That's one reason critiques always miss the point. A photographer will show a picture like a thousand other pictures you've seen, and the comments will be, that it would be a better picture if exposure was adjusted, or if the photographer used the Rule of Thirds, or some other compositional device. No one will ever ask the most important questions: "Why did you choose this subject? What are you trying to do with it? Why did you take this picture?"

    Because no one will ask those questions of us, we have to ask them of ourselves Instead of these important questions, we talk about cameras, tools and techniques. We never talk about what you're trying to accomplish. Imagine painters talking about brushes. Brushes are certainly important to painters, but they're not more important than ideas, and approaches to the subject of the painting.

  • Pierre Bland February 11, 2011 06:18 am

    I was at a major cross road in my life. I needed something that would give me a chance to escape the pressures of everyday, while creating a result that made me proud and was life affirming. That is what photography did for me: it saved my life.

  • Patricia Reesby February 11, 2011 06:08 am

    Very well said. Life is "maya" and everything changes, we can keep nothing and we are not here forever, at least in our present forms. But taking photos gives us a way of keeping and recording the past. I have thrown out many of my old diaries and other written stuff, but find it hard if not impossible to throw out old photos. These days I'm taking photos of young grandchildren, and of course they change almost daily. Photographs are a 'snapshot' of moments that have passed, for of course, the moment the photo is taken, the moment has already gone.

  • surfman February 11, 2011 05:51 am

    i enjoyed photography when i was younger but lost interest because someone said you're always taking pictures /have started again because i wanted to take pics again and then i realized i could learn a lot with digital plus when i take a picture and it comes out good i feel as if i've captured part of gods great creation
    also a few positive compliments inspired me too

  • DeHart February 11, 2011 05:17 am

    Photography is one's way of expressing that moment in time and making it possible to share with others. No two people see each situation the same!

  • Vicki Tate February 11, 2011 04:59 am

    I photograph because it makes me happy. I love to capture a moment in time and share it with others. My goal is to capture beauty in all of it's forms along with an emotion. I too am learning. I'm learning techniques. I'm still learning my camera, and most of all, I'm learning about myself.

  • eric February 11, 2011 04:44 am

    thanks for the inspiration.... not everyone is mad about your style.... who cares, I like it.

  • Richard February 11, 2011 04:44 am

    I enjoy photography because it has helped me see. In other words, what previously has just passed by as background now becomes an object of interest. I find this communion with the real world to be deeply spiritual and satisfying. In some respects, the results of my photography - the pictures themselves - are secondary to the process of placing myself somewhere or in front of someone and taking the photographs.

  • Peter A. Schaible February 11, 2011 04:42 am

    Photographers generally represent three personality archetypes.

    First, they are Magicians. They love the mysterious alchemy of making pictures with light, lens, chemicals, etc.

    Second, they are Artists. They love to capture something beautiful and to share it with others.

    Finally, they are Sages. They love to teach others the tips and techniques, and generally share their wisdom and the fun of this wonderful hobby/profession/passion we call photography.

    --
    --Peter

    Peter A. Schaible
    SunDance New Media

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    subscribe to my complimentary series on Targeting Your
    Prospective Customer by Type: How to Position Your
    Brand to Trigger an Emotional Response, available at
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  • Donalee Eiri February 11, 2011 04:41 am

    I have always had an interest in photography since I was in elementary school. I continue taking photographs but I do it now with a passion that I have never felt before. I feel like a sponge ready to soak everythng in. I have been receiving this newsletter for over a year and honestly, I havenโ€™t read it. I am at a time in my life where everything has been turned upside down and I am starting over. I am 50. I believe in fate and that everything happens for a reason. This question of why I shoot photographs has recently come up for me several times.

    After great thought this is what I understand of myself. I love taking photos. I love making people happy. I like being able to capture a moment and know it is forever. It is not for anything monetary. It is all very emotional and all very selfish. It is also a way for me to be in social setting without having to interact. It is a way for me to face my fears without having to make myself completely vulnerable. When I am behind my camera, I feel safe. I am never really alone when I have my camera.

    I look forward to taking an active part in this website from here on.

  • Stacy Gardner February 11, 2011 04:31 am

    For me, it's about connection. I want connection with my subject and my world.

  • Tanya February 11, 2011 04:27 am

    I photograph for many different reasons. It's challenging, fun, peaceful and most important, helps me to see things from a different perspective :)

  • Ruben February 10, 2011 03:55 am

    I photograph because I want to finish my P365 :-P
    any comments would be appreciated. I am trying to select one of each week so please feel free to see all 5 weeks from the blog. In fact I am trying to follow the sugested 52 themes from dps.

    ciao

    http://1year365fotos.blogspot.com/2011_01_16_archive.html

  • Les Reynolds February 9, 2011 11:41 am

    I photograph to capture beauty.

    And as a result, I am more aware of the beauty around me.

  • Shailesh February 8, 2011 04:29 pm

    A picture is better than a thousand words. That is why!

  • Trep Ford February 8, 2011 12:29 pm

    Awesome article. You rock. Sometimes photographers, with their interest in technology, tend to be a bit "stick in the mud-ish". Always nice to hear such a clearly expressed statement of "be who you are"-ness. ;)

  • Perez Studios February 8, 2011 06:11 am

    I would have to agree with Erik. I think I love taking photos just because it makes me feel I have captured the moment and to think that 10 or even 20 years from now someone will look at that photo and say, "That looks cool!" I think that is why I prefer to print my work out in Black and White because I still get goosebumps when I see some of those amazing photos from artists like Ansel Adams and other professionals from the past.

  • DBPhotos February 6, 2011 03:19 pm

    My high school English Teacher, Mrs. Van, opened my eyes to "seeing beyond the obvious" with an assignment for our creative writing course. We took a field trip to an automotive junk yard and were told to look around. The next day we had to tell what we saw. Most of the class said the obvious, junk cars, broken glass, rusty metal. I sat quietly and pondered what I had seen. I had seen colors and shapes and textures.... I saw beauty. I have been able to take that gift and expand on it through some creative writing, the designing and hand crafting of quilts and now though my photography. I hope I can inspire people to "SEE BEYOND WHAT THEY THINK THEY SEE and see what is really there; to be able to "feel" the emotion a photograph can evoke. I look forward everyday of seeing the world through my viewfinder, finding the hidden beauty that is waiting to be seen.

  • Cheryl P February 6, 2011 01:26 pm

    I feel that if I didn't take photographs, I wouldn't be ME. Photography for me, is my release of creativity in my mind. I enjoy being able to replay EMOTION in the form of a photograph. Since I shoot mainly weddings, I am constantly on my toes and I anticipate those magic moments. It is such a beautiful feeling to know that I MADE that photograph that speaks outloud. I enjoy creating images in different ways because the same photograph shot in different ways each has it's own special creative aspect - which is artistic in nature. And it makes me feel good that I am capable of producing such images. Most of all, I have fun doing it. I take pride in knowing that I have the ability to create timeless images that in 30 years will still (hopefully) have that 'WOW" factor.

  • bobbyv February 6, 2011 07:40 am

    amen to that @Mandeno - that is the way I view it as well, that it is a service we do on a personal basis, our personal contribution to the world. And we even sacrifice the lack of good photographs of ourselves, because most others, when they do offer to take our pictures with our cameras or theirs, do not have the knowhow and/or attention to detail that we put into our work. My only reward is that they will remember who took those photographs ...

  • Mandeno Moments February 6, 2011 06:23 am

    I believe that photographic skills a talent given to me for the purpose of serving others and for serving the creator of the universe, therefore I photograph in order to serve.

    E.g., it was very fulfilling to take photos at the funeral of a dear friend (at his request) so that his small children could see them when they grew up. It was a very unusual and difficult assignment, and my viewfinder was having recurrent bouts of blurriness that day...

    http://mandenomoments.com/david-burge-funeral

  • bobbyv February 6, 2011 06:18 am

    perhaps a more telling question is: "what does still photography have that video does not?"

    it is about capturing a moment in time, going back in time and leaving to your imagination the context of that instance

    when photographing people, it is a great accomplishment for the still photographer is to be able to capture the emotion and context of the moment, through proper framing, lighting, focus, and very important, the capture of gestures.

    photography also forces one to look for seemingly trivial details that will tell a great story later.

    It also reflects a philosophy in life to look for beauty everywhere ...

  • BobbyMc February 6, 2011 05:45 am

    I photograph because it is my art in progress. For me I almost enjoy the process of obtaining the photograph more than I actually like the picture. The process of photography brings me into the moment and centers me. I become more aware and fully present to enjoy the subtitles of life, the beauty there lies before me, and my relation to it. What I love about photography is that you have to be out in the world. In doing so all the beauty and horror that is life become apart of me. I am a more complete and balanced person as a result.

  • Coco February 6, 2011 04:10 am

    I shoot so you'll love me more.

  • Bino Manjasseril February 6, 2011 01:27 am

    I photograph because it helps me to slow down in life. It helps me to beat the tyranny of time.

  • Henry February 5, 2011 09:35 pm

    Before I read this article, I was thinking that is just because I have a camera and I want to fully utilise it. Thats all. Then I thinking why I insist a good shot? Why we need a good picture? My point is to be share the beauty of this amazing nature... Share with whoever else. I Not sure what is going wrong with men who continue destroying this beautiful world. I guess God gave me a sense to see the beauty of this world, hopefully, I can snap these beauty as many as possible, and whoever with open heart, come and see... We Living In A Beautiful World!@

  • Adrian Close February 5, 2011 06:23 pm

    It feels like magic when I'm behind the lens. Then the "wow" feeling when I get to see my shots (I shoot a lot of film, but camera screens don't do the digital shots justice either). And then, smiles on faces of people who like my work, especially mine if I've captured something I really like.

  • Sarang February 5, 2011 03:48 pm

    To me, photography is like a third eye, a psychological and spiritual window to the soul of the world.
    I agree with @IHSAN- Even I am bad at words. I almost always suck at explaining my thoughts and views to others. I guess photography helps me do that. Not effectively, not yet as I've only just started learning the basics, but this is my vision and why I want to keep photographing.
    Also, photography is a way to commune with nature- it helps you see the subtle beauty you would have otherwise ignored. It helps you understand the way things work by increasing your observation skills!

    Through this looking glass
    I see the world passing by
    And in it reflected
    My journey through this land

    A small gesture
    And you are immortalized
    For me to cherish forevermore
    Through this looking glass.
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=1653330828&aid=50310

  • Stacy February 5, 2011 03:42 pm

    My grandpa, a farmer by profession, was also a talented oil-painter. When he was in his 80s, we held an art show of his work. People from all over the U.S. shipped his paintings back to his hometown for the show. In the video a relative took, you can hear Grandpa say, over and over, "none of that's there anymore." Maybe I am picking up photography for that same reason. (Haha! At about the same time of life Grandpa started painting!)

  • Gary A. Valenzuela February 5, 2011 02:27 pm

    Yeap! I love the fun part of taking pictures.... I like to hold memories that other way would be fading in our memories. And I like to think that I'm gonna leave some kind of legacy leaving behind me so many pictures, that people after me would be wondering about them.

    Now for me is an everyday assignment, (at least for this year) so I'm still shooting and shooting, and I love the normal, the HDR's, the panoramic views, I even like photoshopping them beyond recognition. I think that bit by bit, in the end all those who knows me would know for sure that I was a photographer...

  • Tom Miller February 5, 2011 12:22 pm

    It's the only thing that stops that clock! Every time you snap that picture it freezes the moment forever!

  • Amber's Articles February 5, 2011 08:20 am

    I just wanted to let you know that thus week your posts have really been wonderful. Just a lot of stuff that has encouraged me and made me think

  • Thomas Eriksen February 5, 2011 07:44 am

    Hi guys,

    I asked the people of DPS a while ago and made a word cloud out of all the answers. I guess I was not surprised when I saw the result.

    You find the word cloud here if you are interested:

    https://digital-photography-school.com/forum/general-chit-chat/115627-why-do-you-take-photos-3.html#post977731

    Thomas

  • Ethan Kavet February 5, 2011 07:02 am

    Long before the digital era, the photographer actually had to use chemicals and a darkroom to complete his photography. Renting darkroom space or working on the job with other darkroom techs was a social aspect of the trade that I enjoyed most. Back then photography was more than a 2 step process. I photographed then and now because I love the use of the camera a bit more than the outcome.

  • Henry Lee February 5, 2011 06:52 am

    Matthew, thank you for your article! I've always wanted a means to express myself more creatively, and photography has been an absolute gift.

  • Stephanie February 5, 2011 06:17 am

    I photograph because it's a form of expression. It's art. And art, in any medium, does something special. It creates a message, both for the artist and the viewer, about life and the world.

  • DH February 5, 2011 06:06 am

    This sums it up:

    "Perishability in a photograph is important in a picture. If a photograph looks perishable we say, 'Gee, I'm glad I have that moment." ~John Loengard

  • Jim February 5, 2011 06:00 am

    I had this discussion with a friend of mine recently. We have both photographed different locations, events, objects, people, etc... but that doesn't mean that one picture/portfolio is better than the other. It's just a different perspectives on life. We shouldn't try to take other pictures to benefit other viewers... we should capture things as we see them, because that is what makes each photographer unique.

  • Noelene Sapiro February 5, 2011 05:31 am

    Why do I photograph? To learn. To capture something meaningful to me and hopefully make at least one other person take a breath as it touches them. But mostly to be there in the moment, creating my work of art. You can't think of anything else while photographing, its a time out for some of us. Shoot and enjoy.

  • Beverly February 5, 2011 05:12 am

    I love discussing why photography makes me happy with my friends. Someone once told me that there is a psychological study done on the effects of photography on mental illness. Turns out that those who took pictures were more stable. Taking photos makes us look for the beauty in all that is around us which is behavioral training. Looking back on your photos reinstills the memory of happiness and beauty. I am so at peace when I take photos so I really think there is something to the aforementioned study.

  • Dave W. February 5, 2011 04:58 am

    Great and timely article. I have re-ventured into photography and have done a little thinking this. For me it boils down to legacy and learning. I think you and other mentioned our short stay in this life and this is a way to keep the memory alive, of me and people I shoot(make pictures of?). Once it hit's the web, it's pretty much there to stay. Who needs cemeteries when you have that? But it also gives me a bit of a hobby, the never ending learning one has while doing something enjoyable.

    Thanks helping to put this into perspective.

    Cheers,
    Dave

  • Dante Mom February 5, 2011 04:45 am

    I photograph to put a smile on someone's face...more importantly, mine.

  • Adrian February 5, 2011 04:44 am

    Wonderful article and a real mind opener.

  • tate February 5, 2011 04:29 am

    Memories: Probably my most difficult shot this winter of something that may never happen again in our lifetimes:
    http://tatedavidson.com/Photography/prints/DSC7986-Edit-Edit/1147329249_ZQeh9-XL-1.jpg

  • tate February 5, 2011 04:25 am

    I could have never captured this without a bit of diligence โ€ฆ although many others got shots of this too =)
    [eimg url='http://tatedavidson.com/Photography/prints/DSC7986-Edit-Edit/1147329249_ZQeh9-M-1.jpg' title='1147329249_ZQeh9-M-1.jpg']

  • tate February 5, 2011 04:16 am

    I enjoy the "still" in photography.
    Everything is moving so fast and changing so rapidly.
    A photo is a chance to freeze time, savor it, enjoy it, remember it โ€ฆ and sometimes tweak it a bit ;D

  • Shaila February 5, 2011 03:53 am

    I photograph simply because it makes me happy and I like to show people a new perspective of looking at everyday things.

  • ScottC February 5, 2011 03:36 am

    I shoot because photography helps me notice things I otherwise would not, appreciate things more than I would without looking at them from a photography perspective, and I hope to pass all of the photos on to my neices and nephews one day, so can see these times from an adult's perspective.

    I used to hate cloudy skys, until I started photographing them. I didn't get up this early on Sunday mornings either!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5380341012/

  • IHSAN February 5, 2011 03:34 am

    I shared some reasons why I photograph here:

    http://ihsankhairir.blogspot.com/2009/10/i-heart-photography-1.html

    An excerpt:

    I am almost always at lost whenever someone asks me to describe beauty. My lack of vocabulary hampers me from expressing my appreciation of visual aesthetics efficiently; so does my almost dead drawing skills. I find in photography the best way to communicate to the world what I find is beautiful and pleasant to the eyes, and so with that the passion for this hobby was ignited.

  • Tony Plewa February 5, 2011 03:04 am

    You got me thinking about why I photograph. Many reasons. I enjoy the challenge of the technical aspect.
    I enjoy the travel required to find that next great picture. The joy of discovering something new or unusual and capturing it. Mostly I have fun sharing my work with family and friends.

  • Ruth February 5, 2011 02:58 am

    Teacher taught me: Photography is science mixed with Magic. I am fascinated by both. Photography changed my world.

  • doel February 5, 2011 02:54 am

    I love photography...big passion of mine...:)

  • Rafael Marquez February 5, 2011 02:35 am

    I photograph, because I like doing it. I also like the memories that the photograph brings to me.

  • Matt Mathai February 5, 2011 02:31 am

    Amen. Shoot because it preserves memories you might want to record and relive years later. Shoot because it makes you happy.

  • Greg February 5, 2011 02:23 am

    Just in case my last picture didn't get on here's another. I still take pictures because I love taking them.

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/48890960@N03/5266491181/' title='Daisies At Sunset' url='http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5204/5266491181_3f21a52d46.jpg'][eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/48890960@N03/5415511111/' title='A Heart Looking Over You 023c (1024x768)' url='http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5292/5415511111_2c4386815c.jpg']

  • Esther February 5, 2011 02:21 am

    I have been taking photos since I was in high school. After the kids came along, I became very aware of how what I took was not always what I 'saw'. I have worked for a few years now getting the tech part down so I can capture every moment without the 'aw man' of a bad setting.
    We camp and hike and travel as much as we can manage, I love to look back over everything we do, the walls of our house are covered floor to ceiling with photographs. Each child has dozens of photos of themselves with their friends in their rooms, my bedroom wall is covered in hokey shots of myself and my husband mugging and/or smooching for the camera everywhere we have ever been together. The rows of photos starting in our late teens at my high school graduation and going through 3 belly bumps and bad haircuts and various beards and winter hats, swimsuits, backgrounds from dozens of locations for nearly 20 years are a sure way to dissolve any disagreement between us. Who can argue with that kind of evidence?
    Photography makes me happy, I love to capture that moment when something happens, that sunset, that leap into the lake, the dog jumping over a log on the trail, the kids laughing their heads off roasting marshmallows, shadow puppets on the tent walls, the family gathered around Mickey Mouse or a huge tree or a welcome sign to a new state. It's a collection of memories that I would not trade for anything, anything, anything.

  • Mei Teng February 5, 2011 02:18 am

    I am into photography because I love it! :)

  • Jim Twice February 5, 2011 02:03 am

    is this an empty article aiming only at generating comments and views?

    Anyway, I mostly photograph because it's the only thing I know.

  • Eduardo Mueses February 5, 2011 01:58 am

    The french have the expression: "Joie de vivre" - a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit; and I think it clearly defines why I take pictures.

    The approach, like you have expressed so well on your article, should always be to enjoy our pictures just because they are ours...

  • Greg February 5, 2011 01:58 am

    I've been taking pictures for over a decade now and started by taking candid pictures at famiy reunions and around where I lived. I always got a laugh catching people doing straange things or having strange expressions on their faces. I also walked 5 or more miles a day and started to take pictures all along my walk routes of the animals, river, lakes, creeks, and clouds in the sky. I took pictures to give the TV station for weather photos and then other for their picture of the day. I still love to see blue skies and different types of clouds and scenery and send them to be shown on TV. I even take pictures to be seen on TWC, Fanartreview, and a few others also. I just love taking pictures. I even place a few pictures in contests now and this was a recent photo that won 1st place.

  • Mike B. February 5, 2011 01:55 am

    Because if I'm behind the camera, then no one is taking a picture of me.

  • Gary Simmons February 5, 2011 01:54 am

    Great article, which sums up how I feel about photography.

    I shoot because it makes me happy.

  • saundra February 5, 2011 01:54 am

    Wonderful article. Thank you. Great timing since I was just having this conversation. I can't imagine life without my cameras.

  • Erik kerstenbeck February 5, 2011 01:44 am

    Hi

    Wonderful article and thanks for sharing your thoughts on why we shoot. For me right now its not about the legacy, its about learning. I am an Engineer by training so this is a technical challenge. Maybe in 10 years, someone might look back and say, "Hey, that guy took some good pictures" and that would make me happy.

    So for now it's shoot often, learn, experiment...the process makes me happy.

    Here's a nice learning about sharp focus, rule of thirds, bokeh "Stop and Go" http://t.co/mGAPeYQ

    Regards, Erik
    Kerstenbeck Photographic Art

  • chris February 5, 2011 01:34 am

    left brain right brain workout

  • Alanna St Laurent February 5, 2011 01:33 am

    Interesting article. Made me stop for a moment to think and formulate why I love photography. It comes down to time, and living in the now. Knowing this moment will never exist again. And capturing a moment that has extraordinary light, movement, expression...is what it is all about for me. No one on the planet will have that exact photo, like a fingerprint or snowflake.

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