One of the things I find fascinating about photography is that it can be approached from a million directions and can mean a million different things to different people. I enjoy talking to other photographers a lot – I find it very interesting to learn what they personally see in this art and what they shoot for (pun intended) with their images. I have a friend who takes photos of kids and families; she has perfected her portrait techniques over many years. I know another photographer whose work you will never see – odd as that may sound, I get it: it is private, it is the imprint of his heart and soul, he prefers to share his art with his immediate circle only.
Have you ever stopped to think what photography means to you? What do you want to express with your images? Do you want to reflect reality as closely as possible? Or do you admire wildlife or landscapes so much that you want to promote their protection by sharing the most perfect nature photos possible? Perhaps you are a master of digital image editing and enjoy conveying an abstract vision; dream-like, other-worldly, transporting the viewer to another dimension.
Whatever the drive, I bet there is one single thing that connects all of us DSLR users. The click. When you press the shutter and hear that sound, it is a sound of self-expression, art, curious experiment, excitement, creativity.
For me, photography has a deeply spiritual aspect. I am what I guess you could call a travel photographer – not focusing on one certain area of photography, just taking a shot of whatever catches my attention. It is sometimes a mundane, everyday thing I see on the street, other times a thoroughly planned composition inspired by a track that has been playing in my mind ever since I first heard it, or by a quote from my favourite writer.
One thing is sure, when I feel down or experience emotional turmoil (good or bad), going out to shoot is the most uplifting and rebalancing thing I can imagine, apart from listening to music. Thinking about something beautiful, visually pleasing, and focusing on possible compositions, colours, planning the technical part – which is the lowest shutter speed I can get away with? what depth of field would be ideal for the image I have in mind? – not only takes my mind off everything else for a while, but it also channels my soul through my camera into the resulting image.
There is also the post processing part. Some people enjoy that, others look at Lightroom as the devil’s tool. Again, so many different ways to think about what you want to do with your art. I personally like to spend some time on my photos, I take pleasure in fine-tuning the details and see what I can get out of my raw files. The learning curve here really appeals to me. There is so much to learn that mastering this part really sets a good photo apart from the rest.
And then there is the joy of sharing your images with other people and knowing – hoping – that perhaps one of your photos will give them a moment’s respite from their worries in the rush of the day. I have the greatest respect for people who have the skills and equipment to take fantastic photos and choose to share them with others. There is often so much time, effort, sacrifice behind one photo, viewers have no idea. This is especially true for wildlife photography, which often requires specialized gear and being out in the field at odd hours, but even I have stood for hours rooted to a spot, waiting for the right light.
I enjoy looking at good photos so much, I can spend minutes taking in the details of a beautiful image. If just one person takes the same pleasure in looking at my gallery, it was worth it. But even if nobody looks at my photos, there is no denying that catching a moment and returning home with a great image you yourself are happy with is very gratifying. So I go out and shoot not only when I feel inspired, but also when I need to find myself.