Why take photos? For me? I can not do otherwise.
Well Les, you have really done it now...I will be thinking about this for some time. Guess I should get the book and read it, because it might help with the different thoughts I have on the subject.
Taking time to mull this over, one reason as to why is to capture a moment..like a special event - wedding, holiday, or just some other occasion that is good to recall. When I look at family snaps, I am transported back to that time..remember the event or person. To some extent I feel this when I look at almost any photograph..either remembering the place/time - like the photos from the old Life magazine - or recalling a some place that I have been at a completely different time.
Now these would be the snapshots, just as valid to me as when I go out to photogrpah for myself - what was Adams used to say, there are assignments from without and assignments from within..or something to that affect. It is the why of the the assignments from within that you have me thinking about.
Will post more as I mull this over more, hopefully so will others.
Hmm, Deep Question Les, and very good....
My why comes from within, the ability to capture a moment in time, that will never be repeated and will never be the same to any one person on the earth, we all see the same thing so many different ways, each one of my exposures becomes a special moment in time to me, I can only hope that the resulting image, somehow shows a small bit of what I saw at that particular moment, I think the why is a special part of our being, as a photographer , telling the story is the most important part of what I do, the money, the fame, the commercialism is very secondary to the goal.
Interesting. For me there are three reasons I take photographs.
1-To get away from the stress of work and home. Without boring you with the details Photography allows me to get away from that. It is my time to be with me.
2-Because it makes me focus on the good and beautiful. Going through the motions with a LF camera puts me in a very meditative state. I deal with negative energy daily and see too much bad. Without the meditation of photography and forcing my self to seek out the beautiful I would implode. Sometimes I feel I could go through the motions click the shutter and throw away the film because what I need is to follow the steps. To look for, find, and experience the beautiful.
3- Photography allows me to satisfy my need to create. It is a need that is as basic as breathing.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
For me it's a combination of things, it's partly the photography and partly the type of life that comes with it. The travel to beautiful places, the search for special moments, the early morning light.
My oldest memory is from when I was 3 or 4. As I recall I got up early on a saturday morning, my parents sound asleep and not available to amuse me, and as I was not content to watch "Modern Farmer" on tv (something which now seems to be an unusual choice for a tv programmer to run in NYC), I dressed myself and went into the back yard. The singing of the birds, the quality of the light, the peacefulness of the moment, gave me a feeling of serenity. Perhaps my first ever moment of serenity.
Later in life, in my teens, I started to enjoy doing photography. As so many have before me I learned that the best light was usually around sunrise or sunset. So again I would get up early, this time to enjoy the serenity of the morning with a camera. My photographs would remind me of that morning and I would find peace in them. And now after having witnessed so many sun rises in so many truly beautiful places I can still find that serenity every morning.
All the testing, all the equipment, all the effort and spent resources is just to be able to reproduce those fleeting serene moments. And now I am fortunate enough to be able to share those moments with many others.
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Why do I photograph?
To stop time.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
I decided I should post first without reading other answers and then go back and read what has been written on this excellent post. Thanks Les.
I make photos because I enjoy it. But that's too simple isn't it. We're all pretty basic folk who work hard and respond to reward aren't we. Photography has brought me that result in a deeper fashion than almost any other pursuit.
I love the thrill of the hunt. I love having all of the tools in my bag to create something of true intrinsic value. Something excellent. I love discovery. I love "seeing". I love that the camera can see so much better than I can. If I want it to it can see 105 degrees all tack sharp. Or if I decide, it can see just a tiny bit like a dream. I love the feeling that I've captured something that will be really fulfilling when it's completed. Knowing it's "in the can". I love the anticipation when the film is sloshing in the developer. Telling myself "6 more minutes and we can have our first look". I love those first looks! Too much. Usually I have to drag the stuff out of the can after the first water rinse is completed post fix. I love looking at a row of 8X10 negs hanging and drying. And I love to print. I love listening to grand pipe organ music while I'm locked away in my tiny dark room making prints until the wee hours. I hate putting them in frames but I love looking at them when I'm finished.
Then there's the people you meet. I've met some of the finest most giving and most gifted people of my life in this hobby. Lasting friendships are some of the greatest rewards of all.
Finally, I love giving the pictures away. I almost never sell my pictures. I pay for my hobby with Ebay profits and that allows me to ignore the part I would hate if it was necessary. Marketing.
So that's why I make pictures. Purely selfish to the maximum. It brings me pleasure and fulfillment. I feel that in some small way I'm creating a legacy of excellence. Is the world a better place because of what I'm doing? Perhaps for a dozen or so people who enjoy a pretty picture on the wall it is. That's not much......but it's something.
I photograph because it is a vehicle to see the world in a deeper fuller way. In some ways the image is of a secondary importance to me. Through photography I have learned to examine details from banality to exquisite beauty. The physical act of making the exposure and the print allows me to put a little bit of myself into the thing that for a split second captivated me.
I am amazed at how I see the world so much different from people not involved in photography or other visual art. No matter what activity I am involved in I am aware of textures and colors, light and shadow, intensity of the sun, the color of the light, contours, juxtapositions, etc. When i walk into a store or restaurant I am always looking at all the faces, examining the clothes, the postures and the sound of voices. I believe that being involved in photography has allowed me to really see the the world around me.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
It is a visual expression of how I feel. When I see something I want to photograph, it is because of how the subject matter has made me feel, and I want to express that emotion through a photograph. It is not my aim to show you the object I reacted to, but to show the reaction I had.