I have never regarded myself as a “photographer” – I mean, I would never put “Maree Clarkson, Artist, Naturalist and ‘Photographer’” in my resumé and I’ve never visited a photographic exhibition like I would visit an art exhibition. Sure, I love taking photographs, but it’s more a ‘record-keeping’ thing for me; which plant is flowering, what new bird is visiting my garden, when did one of my chickens lay her first egg. I would photograph something just because it’s beautiful and just use the default settings for the camera, not actually having a clue what’s going to appear.
And I’ve always wondered about people that have an absolute passion for photography, who choose it as a profession and who get to know their camera, how it works, which setting is for what and experimenting with their settings like I experiment with my watercolour paints.
So I decided to investigate this ‘phenomena’ and found this website that gives six reasons why photography matters.
1. Our photographs tell us what is important to usWhen you ask people what possessions they would rescue from their burning house, one of the most frequent answers is the photograph album or a computer with their digital images. When in panic mode it’s interesting that we would probably grab photos rather than valuable jewelry. This impulse to save our recorded memories is a powerful force which tells us much about the role of photography in our lives and our constant desire to distil our most precious moments into images.
2. Photographs are part of our legacyPhotographs matter because they freeze moments of our lives which pass unremarkably and which seem to have little importance to us at the time. The significance, however, may be for others who search for the person we once were or the places we once knew. They can be small pieces of a jigsaw that complete the larger picture of our lives.
3. Photographs allow us to share and to communicate.Images are much more than a simple record. Photography speaks to the best and most generous part of our human nature – the desire to share what we find beautiful and interesting with others. You only have to look at Flickr and a multitude of photo sharing sites to see this impulse at work. Millions of people sharing their personal, passionate and sometimes quirky take on the world around them. Our images can involve a world of strangers in our life. How powerful is that?
4. Photography makes us artistsPhotography allows us to express ourselves through an art form. We notice a beautiful landscape or flower or an old man’s lined face and we want to capture it. Each of us will have a different reason to do so but, essentially, we want to create something. However humdrum our nine-to-five lives may be, the creation of an image makes us an artist. It feels good.
5. Photography is a complex languageOur images can express joy and sorrow, wonder and sympathy. Every human emotion can find a place in photography. For many years I never valued my photographs of overcast landscape because I believed that there was no beauty in a land with muted colours and a leaden sky. I wanted the land to be alive with colour and vibrancy. However, lack of colour in a landscape makes you search for other things that often go un-remarked in bright sunlight. It could be a symmetry of hills or a tree standing out from a forest of thousands.
6. Photography has the power to move usPhotographs can grab our attention and speak directly to our emotions. Nick Ut’s photograph of a crying Vietnamese girl whose clothes have been burnt away by napalm embodies the power of a single image. At a more subtle level, we can learn lessons about a whole range of emotions. Grief has the power to wash away the luminance and chrominance of our lives. There is no magic way to restore them at will. We have to be patient. But while waiting we can search for the shapes and patterns that are still there in the greyness. They will lead us back to colour eventually. At moments of great sorrow in my life I have used images to express that hope of returning colour.
Photography should make you happy. Never let someone impede on your personal happiness. You love HDRs and someone else doesn’t – who cares? You are enamored with landscapes but your friends think they’re droll – don’t let it bother you. You’re a fashion nut but no one gets your style – just keep being you. Enjoy your photography for what it is – your own. Know that not everyone will appreciate it, but if it personally fulfills you, that’s all that truly matters. Be true to yourself and you’ll never regret a day of your life.
Read my Saturday Chat on RedBubble and view some more excellent photography!