Saturday, June 8, 2013

Why Am I A Photographer?


Why am I a photographer?

I’ve always been fascinated by photography.  At 6 or 7 years old I begged my Dad to let me take a picture with his camera and although he probably knew that it might be a waste of a little film (yes I started with film I’m that old) he let me take a photo anyways. I even got to see it in our family slide show. It wasn’t exactly a masterpiece. In fact it was just a photo of a street sign! But the fact that he let me take even just one photo created a seed in me that would someday turn into my love of photography today.My mom also fostered that seed unknowingly. At the time, I didn’t realize how special it was to have a mom who had lived overseas and had seen the world. I guess I assumed everyone’s mom did that.  We didn’t have a huge color TV growing up but we did have a slide projector and a big white wall. On that wall I would see magical places that my mother had traveled to. I saw slides of places like Mt. Fuji, I saw slides of a Japanese ice festival where a magical temporary city was created entirely of ice! And I even saw slides of Germany where our family came from. And of course we always got to see the family vacations recorded on slide film so we could relive our adventures like traveling northward to the California redwoods or the giant spruce forests of Oregon on our annual summer camping trips.

I’ve been photographing for years now and if someone were to ask me why I am a photographer, this is what I'd tell them. 

I see beauty in a sky or a flower or a bird or butterfly or even in the smallest insect and when I see something that is amazing to me I want to share that with others and I want them to be amazed too.  I also get great joy from bringing other people happiness so it’s only natural I guess that when I see something that inspires me,  I want to photograph it and share it with others in the hopes that it brings joy and inspiration to them as well.

Photography is also an historic record. My mother in law used to photograph the whole family at our family gatherings. We would all try to hide from the camera and complain that we didn’t want our photo taken but you know what? We all couldn't wait to see the great shots she got  when the photos would come back from the lab!  I started bringing a camera to the family gatherings as well and then there were two family “paparazzis” to hide from.  And now we have all gotten in on the fun of taking photos.  Just the other day my husband I found a suitcase full of old family photos.  This suitcase is really a family history book. Did you ever notice when there is a tragedy like a flood or hurricane and homes are destroyed that it’s those precious family photo albums and framed photos that are the cherished item and not a table or a couch?  So I guess the second part of my “why am I a photographer?” question would be to capture moments in time to share with family and friends at a later date, or more simply put to be a history keeper.

Do I shoot photos to make money? The answer to this one would be yes and no. There was a time when I thought “wouldn’t it be great to quit my day job and do photography for a living?”.  I tried shooting weddings and even did some portrait work in addition to trying to get published and selling my nature photographs. I even tried stock photography for a while too. I started to realize when I put too much emphasis on the making money aspect of it that it became stressful and I lost some of that creative spark. It wasn’t as much fun anymore.  Sure it’s great to make money but it can also become a pressure which actually in the long run, hurts the ability to make money when your creativity suffers. Since then I’ve come to the realization that it’s best just to keep it at a level that is fun. Since changing perspective from “how will I make money with my photos” to “what can I shoot to share and inspire?” I’ve actually began to make a little money. I haven’t abandoned the money aspect and I still try to market my photos to sell them but I have a day job that I love and photography is just a fun thing I do when I'm not at my day job.