I have a simple question for you. Why do you enjoy photography? When I first asked myself this question, I thought, “Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? It’s what I do for a living! I never get tired of picking up my camera and “going to work.” But this doesn’t really answer the question, does it? It just states that I enjoy photography.
So I decided to go a little deeper, back to the beginning. I really got serious about photography when I bought my first digital point and shoot (a Canon SD200). Before that camera I casually photographed friends and flowers with my Canon AE-1, but the world of digital really opened my eyes to what was possible with photography. I had this little camera that fit in my pocket that I could take with me anywhere. Compared to film, I could take a seemingly unlimited number of photos of anything that I wanted. This meant lots of photos of friends and flowers.
I remember being fascinated by my photographs of nature. I could look at a macro image of a flower and see grains of pollen and delicate details that typically went unnoticed. I could look at a photo of a rock outcropping and zoom in to see the smaller inclusions that made it sparkle. Everything was photo-worthy, new and interesting. At this point in time I enjoyed photography because it gave me the ability to capture scenes from my life to remember and study.
Here’s a flower photo that, at the time, I thought was the best photo I’d ever taken.
Canon PowerShot SD2001/500, f/2.8
Eventually I bought my first DSLR (a Nikon D40) and that’s when I got GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). So many lenses and accessories! I must have them all! Suddenly my D40 wasn’t good enough and I just had to upgrade to the D90. New lenses, flashes, bags, filters and software all became “must have” items. With all of this new gear, I branched out from flowers and mountains and started photographing people.
I remember how much fun I had working with people, capturing moments and emotions, seeing the look on their faces when they saw their own portrait and actually liked what they saw. These positive experiences were so much more satisfying to me than photographing nature, I knew that my future in photography would mostly involve people. To a large extent, this is still one of the things that I most love about photography… working with people and capturing moments and emotions so that they will not be forgotten.
I photographed this high school senior while developing my portraiture technique. Sadly, she passed away just a few years after this was taken. Her mother told me how meaningful it was to have these images of her.
NIKON D7000 + 135.0 mm f/2.0 @ ISO 400, 1/1000, f/2.8
After a while, I started dabbling in film again. It felt good to get away from computers and lots of gear and just get back to an analog world where imperfection was embraced. I could indulge my love for antiques and use older cameras. I bought that Polaroid camera I’d always wanted as a kid and marveled at the magic of instant film. Suddenly, I found myself photographing flowers and trees and landscapes again… and loving it!
I remember realizing that something does not immediately become interesting just because it was photographed on film. It’s the light that really makes it come to life. With the right light, a crumpled up piece of paper or a grimy alley can be just as interesting as a field of flowers or a snow covered mountain. Film helped me learn to love light.
For example, the light on this succulent and the way it brings out the pattern of the plant really caught my attention.
Polaroid 420, Fuji 100c film
Thus began my current obsession with light. I find myself continually hunting light and capturing light with whatever camera I may have with me. More often than not, that camera is my phone. I have fallen in love with phone photography. Maybe it’s because it reminds me so much of my first years of digital photography… just a point and shoot camera that easily fits in my pocket and is always with me. But I think it’s more than just that. It’s a way for me to explore new editing styles, to explore the world around me and ultimately to explore light.
While at a kickboxing tournament, I saw the late-afternoon light pouring through some windows onto these worn stadium seats. Fortunately, I had my phone with me to capture the scene.
iPhone 5 4.12mm f/2.4 @ ISO 125, 1/20, f/2.4, edited with VSCO Cam
What started out as a hobby eventually became a career. That small camera that fit in my pocket expanded into a storage room full of backdrops, lighting equipment and rarely used gear. I now own my own photography business and live and breathe photography every day of the year. And you know what? I still enjoy it. Here is why I enjoy photography:
I enjoy photography because it has given me the opportunity to share in people’s most special moments on a regular basis.
NIKON D800 + 85.0 mm f/1.4 @ ISO 200, 1/2000, f/1.4
I enjoy photography because it has introduced me to many people who I now call friends.
iPhone 5 @ ISO 125, 1/20, f/2.4
I enjoy photography because it is something that I can do any time, any place and all I need is my phone.
iPhone 5 4.12mm f/2.4 @ ISO 50, 1/1900, f/2.4
I enjoy photography because it has allowed me to capture moments in my own life that I don’t want to forget.
NIKON D800 + 35.0 mm f/1.4 @ ISO 400, 1/2000, f/2.8
I enjoy photography because it has caused me to fall in love with light and see the world around me with fresh eyes every single day. And sometimes, when the mood is right, I just sit back and enjoy the moment without taking a photo.
So, why do you enjoy photography?
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