Many of us shoot street photography because it is challenging, fun, and brings us great joy. However one question I find that most people don’t ask themselves (myself included) is what we ultimately want out of photography.
I just finished an intense week-long street photography workshop in Saigon which was absolutely incredible– and one of my students Sascha Jung asked me what I ultimately wanted out of my photography, and whether I wanted to become a great photographer or a great teacher.
I feel that being a great photographer and a great teacher isn’t mutual exclusive; meaning I could be both. However upon reflection, I could care less about becoming a great photographer. I feel that my great purpose in this world is to become a great teacher– to share information, knowledge, and to continue my passion to contributing to some greater good.
Of course I would like to make some nice photographs in my lifetime. I want to constantly strive hard to compete against myself (and not others) and become the best photographer I personally can be.
However at the end of the day– I would say I am more passionate about education, philosophy, and sociology than photography. I feel that if anything– photography is simply a practical outlet in which I could express my views of the world. I see myself less of a street photographer, and more of sociologist with a camera.
Also on top of that, I’ve noticed that the greatest artists and photographers in history have often had horrible family and personal relationships. For me, my biggest priority is to my family, loved ones, and faith. I used to want to become rich, famous, and great– but over time I’ve relized these things pale in comparison to loving and being loved.
Another student, Sam, asked me what I had planned next– what was the next “big step” in my photography and blog.
I still have lots of articles I want to write for the blog, to build up more community-oriented street photography initiatives, and to make more videos. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don’t have enough hours or energy in a day to do everything I wish I would like. But slowly, I’ve been trying to focus on the most important thing in which I create value: writing. And my best inspiration comes from reading, so I need to do more reading too.
So I challenge you to consider the same question: what do you ultimately want out of your photography? Do you want to become rich, famous, and the greatest photographer? Do you shoot for fun snapshots during your travels? Do you want to become the best photographer you possibly can?
I can’t answer that question for you, but please share what you want out of your photography in the comments below.
If you liked this article, you can read more on philosophy and street photography.