We do what we do for a variety of reasons, some outward and obvious at least to ourselves, and some inward and obscure, even to ourselves.
I think I can trust that those of you who have read my writings for a long time, know that I love photography. The question I ask myself is why. Why photography?
In my case, I am not a particularity handy sort of guy. I am not a carpenter, a brick mason, a blacksmith or an architect. My father chose not to pass along the craftsman gene to me. I’ve gotten along ok with car mechanics and a few things, but I never had the drive to create things with my hands. Craftsmanship is a necessary part of photography, but it is not the driving force of it. My darkroom days, were the only times when a part of photography felt to me like a craft. I’m also not a true “techy”. Photography, especially in this digital/computer era is however part technical, and I seem to have just enough of that inside of me, as for the tech part of photography not to be difficult.
So why photography?
Photography is just the right blend of a creative (painting etc.) art, a craft, and a technical endeavor, as for me to be able to master it. Not too much of any one thing. I am also able to choose whether a picture is about me and my feelings and views, about a subject that I am honoring, or (most times) about a little bit of both.
When I began image serious making, most commercial photography jobs I did, and all weddings, spring portraits etc, were about the money I was paid, and what the person paying me wanted. My sports (mostly auto racing) photography was about sharing something I loved, and pleasing whomever (newspaper, magazine) provided the credentials to get me where I needed to be to do it. I loved the subject I was photographing, but the images were about the newspaper/magazine I worked for and me, just as much as the subject.
I have always (at first in my spare time) photographed nature and some human history. They are my favorite subjects. When I photograph nature it is occasionally about me, more often about the subject, but even more often about both. I do accept that my subject is more important than me, especially wild animals. Wild animals produce their own art, and I have been very privileged to share that art with the world. When the subject is natural or human history, I believe that in most cases, the photography is about educating as much as it is about art or craft.
I love “natural abstractions”. The sort where there is no severe “in camera” or software manipulation. To me, the abstraction is presented by nature. We just have to find the composition (including lens and vantage point) and the right light, to interpret it. Abstracts reveal the hidden secrets of the subject, and the hidden secrets of the photographer. They are the perfect mating of man and nature.
I am sure that most photographers go about making images, whether they be about nature or other things, without all of the interior analysis that I always subject myself (and you) to. I am driven to understand why I do what I do, and why the rest of the world does what they do.
Why do you do what you do?
Share the secrets of your subjects, but make it personal.
There is a photographer/artist (far superior to me) who asks himself these questions in a more profound way. His name is Guy Tal. Check him out.
God Bless, Wayne