September 5, 2011

Why do I Photograph?

I have had people ask many questions about photography, but the one that routinely leaves me stumbling for a coherent answer is the most simple: Why do I photograph? Typically I fumble around for an answer and end up saying something terminally lame like: “I like pretty pictures” when that’s not it at all… Or is it?
Why do I photograph?  Ultimately I photograph for one simple reason: I enjoy everything about it.  I enjoy the times photography is best, I enjoy the places photography lets me see, I enjoy the mental focus that comes while I am creating an image, and I do like pretty pictures.  While I definitely do not enjoy hearing my alarm at 2am on a weekend, I know the solitude and sunrise will be my reward.  Even if a great image is not made, the effort itself is enjoyable.  Being out during the fringes of the day allow me to experience the wilderness in all its beauty. 
Before photography I never sought natural locations so earnestly.  Photography has channeled my inner explorer to find beautiful things in nature.  I go to places with the intention to experience the location and do my best to capture a fraction of that beauty with my camera. 
The act of creating an image takes a great deal of focus.  I must choose and operate my equipment, taking light, mood, direction, and technical details into account.  I must choose my subject and composition then quickly weigh my creative reaction to my chosen scene.  Finally I can click the shutter then check to ensure I have recorded all the information I will need to optimize my image on the computer.  While all of this is happening there is no room left in my brain to think about anything else.  There are no to-do lists.  My mind can relax in the creative process of photography.
            In the end of my photographic pursuit, I am rewarded with pretty images and memories of when and where they were created.  Photography has combined my love of nature, need for formulaic order, and creativity.  I love everything about it and that is why I photograph.