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What is the Purpose of Your Photography?

What is the purpose of your photography? Having a good answer to that question, a predetermined purpose, and can help you improve your photography.

Image: © Kevin Landwer-Johan

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

For professional photographers, hopefully the answer will be straight forward. Whether the focus is on commercial, wedding, editorial or any other genre of photography. To provide your clients with the best images you can should be the ideal.

Hobbyists and part-time photographers may find it more difficult to answer the question. Having a clear idea in mind as to why you take photographs helps you develop your skills more succinctly. If the ‘why’ drives you, your photos will be more impactful and memorable to those who see them.

Image: © Kevin Landwer-Johan

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

How having purpose can help you improve

Concentrate on a goal, and you are more likely to get somewhere. Taking photos and having no real purpose for them can lead to discouragement or, at best, very slow growth.

Setting yourself goals to attain, and even a time frame to work in, will stimulate your imagination. When you have an objective, you will think differently about what you now want to achieve. Ambling along will no longer be so satisfying.

Learning will become more a part of your photography experience unless you’ve set your sights too low. Endeavoring to reach your goals should not be too easy. Pushing beyond what you are used to doing will mean you have to pick up some new skills.

Image: © Kevin Landwer-Johan

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Stock photography challenge

Once you know where you are headed, you will discover what you most need to learn to get you there. If, for instance, you decide to sign up with a stock photo agency as a contributor, you’ll need to learn:

  • Which agencies are worth signing up for
  • The agency requirements for photos
  • What style of photos each agency wants
  • How the best contributors make a living from their photography
  • Post-processing skills to meet the quality level

These things may not seem directly related to learning or growing as a photographer. Ask any number of successful stock photographers, and many will tell you they learned so much more of their craft after signing up. Also, good agencies have standards way higher than most casual photographers attain. Learning to reach these standards is a practical way to improve your photography.

Image: © Kevin Landwer-Johan

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Social media attention

Maybe you just want your images to stand out more on Pinterest or Instagram. Whatever your preferred social media platform is, there’s tons of competition. Being motivated to gain more likes and shares is not a bad thing. Especially when it means you have to up your photography skills to do it.

Learning from those who are already high achievers can help. Find some whose photos you admire and study them. You need a concentrated focus on what you want to achieve.  Without it, you can become easily overwhelmed by all the good, (and not so good) photos in your social media feeds.

Set yourself goals. Be realistic about the numbers you want to attain. Focus your attention on discovering what you need to do to accomplish what you want. What camera skills need upgrades to make your photos more attractive?

For example, if your main subject is food or still life learn more about:

  • Simple lighting setups
  • Graphic design within photos
  • Color combinations that work well
  • Lens choice and how it affects your subject

If you photograph people, learn to draw out more interesting responses from them. This is not a camera related skill, but it’s mandatory in taking great portraits.

Image: © Kevin Landwer-Johan

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Part timer – weddings, portraits, etc.

Is your focus is on making some money by selling your services to others? Keep your client’s needs in mind. Don’t be so full of your own ego that you don’t provide them with a service they want.

Have a clear direction you want to head in. This is healthy, but it must include your clients’ requirements first. After all, you are offering them a service, and what good will it be to them if it’s not what they’d hoped for?

You may need to improve your communication skills. Learn to make yourself clearly understood. This is as important as listening carefully to your potential clients.

Again, these are not camera skills, but learning them well will certainly make you a better photographer. Your goal should be to make photos you are happy with and your clients will love. It’s no good just to satisfy yourself.

Image: © Kevin Landwer-Johan

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photographs for your own enjoyment

Of course, you may enjoy taking photographs for your own pleasure. If you’re not interested in making a little extra cash or sharing on social, having a purpose will still help you.

Setting yourself short, medium, and long term goals will help you grow and achieve more. Even if you’re not willing to share your photos with anyone else, having something to aim for in your picture taking will help build your skills.

Self assignments are a practical means of helping you grow and reach your objectives. Choose a topic that you love or want to learn more about. Pick anything that will hold your interest over a longer period of time.

Plan how long you will make the project and what results you want from it. Remain flexible to lengthen it if you are really enjoying the process and experiencing growth because of it.

As you work on your project, make sure to edit your photos as well. Don’t keep everything. Choose the best and place them in a separate folder. This way you are not looking through all your images, just the ones you like the most.

Study them. Ask yourself why you find these ones better than the others. Compare them. Think about how you can make improvements to your photos and go back to take them again if you can.

Image: © Kevin Landwer-Johan

© Kevin Landwer-Johan


Build some structure and have purpose for the photographs. Doing this will increase your satisfaction levels. You will experience more steady learning of new skills and improvement of existing ones. You will enjoy using your camera more because you will be taking better photos.

Which of these ideas can you implement to help you have more purpose for the photographs you are making?


What is the Purpose of Your Photography?

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Kevin Landwer-Johan
Kevin Landwer-Johan

Kevin Landwer-Johan is a photographer, photography teacher, and author with over 30 years of experience that he loves to share with others.

Check out his e-books and his website.

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