Saturday, June 04, 2005

Why am I doing this?

"If we are lucky, we will work many days doing things we are not so thrilled about so we can spend hours doing what we love."
Robert Louey Principal,
Louey Rubino Design

Taking photographs is not just a past time for me like it used to be. It is a part of my life. Yet I need to know, in a macro sense, why I should be taking photographs. It cannot be a reflex reaction. I take photographs for three different reasons,

1. Something moves me to take the photograph.
2. I learn something about photography from taking a photograph.
3. I get paid to take a photograph.

I probably started on photography like most people, taking snaps on holidays and at some relative's wedding. I am moved by a beautiful scene or some tender moment and I would make a picture. When I first started taking photographs I did not know what would work and I would try a lot of different things. Nowadays, when I see something worth shooting I still take quite a lot of photographs, but finding something worth shooting has become harder.

Shooting portraits of people has become more and more challenging to me and what gets me out of bed is the thought that I could be making a portrait that really says something about my subject. Interesting portrait shoots invigorate me and keep me going.

When I first started photography, I would take on almost any job someone would ask of me. The most common work is to cover an event like a charity dinner. I also shot products for magazines and even tried my hand on an interior shoot. I was learning. I am still learning now, shooting a large format camera to see how it works and how I will be able to use it in the future.

With my present experience, I am not always shooting photographs because I want to or am learning something from it. Most of the time I am shooting because I am providing a service for a client. I take photographs for a fee so that I can pay my bills and so that I can afford to take photographs that interest me.

I guess what I have just said is plain common sense, but are there other reasons to take out the camera? Maybe, maybe not. You can take a photo of a car accident for documentary purposes, but I guess that is not really what I am talking about.

Should I take photographs in the hope that it will bring me more recognition or that it will bring me more work in the future? I think that it is quite unlikely. From my experience, work done without payment or with little payment usually does not get enough visibility to bring any future gain. People who do not have a budget to pay you decently usually also do not have a budget to get high quality designers and run a large campaigns that bhow you off to a wider audience.

Should I not take holiday photographs since I paid an obscene amount of money to get to location X. Not if the light is bad. It does not matter how expensive your holiday is, it does not garuntee good weather and interesting scenery. Bragging photos just irritate your friends and are a real waste of money and space. I only take out my camera when the light is good and there is something of interest to take.

The dream shoot for me would be one where I would give my left arm to shoot anyway but someone is actually paying me for it. The icing on the cake would be that the shoot challenged me to shoot in a creative and new way.

Taking photographs is not an end in itself. Shoot for a reason.

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