I had the thought today— what exactly is the point of making photos?
1. Why do you make photos Eric?
Let me start off by examining myself:
Why do you make photos, Eric?
I make photographs because it helps me slow down, appreciate a moment, and also to scratch some sort of creative itch I have.
Why is it important to appreciate a moment?
I am often distracted. Looking at my phone, or daydreaming. I want to be fully-in-the moment, to enjoy the presence with those I love, as well as those fleeting encounters on the streets with strangers— where I often have a connection with people.
Why is it important to enjoy the presence with those who you love?
Well, it reminds me that they will one day die, and I will die. I want to show them love, and appreciation. I don’t want to waste a single day. I want to devote and dedicate my life in helping support, uplift, and encourage others.
Why do you want to uplift, encourage, and help support others?
For me, I think the purpose of life is to help empower and help others. At heart, I am a humanist. I love my fellow human beings. I’ve gone through a lot of pain, loss, and misery in my life, and I know how shitty it feels. I want to try my best to reduce pain and suffering in others, and help others creatively flourish, appreciate life, be happy, and help the rest of humanity.
Why is it important to help humanity?
Good question. For me, the reason I help others isn’t necessarily to feel good. It is helping others for the sake of it. The reward of helping others, is the ability to help even more people. I don’t help others thinking that it will help get me to heaven. I don’t fear hell. If anything, I personally believe that heaven and hell is here on earth. I have no idea what will happen to my spirit or soul after I die.
But I know I need a reason to wake up in the morning. To feel engaged. For me, I feel the most miserable when I feel I have no purpose. I feel most miserable when I am passive, and not active. I feel fully-alive when I am creating, learning, and sharing.
So to answer your question Eric— the reason why I photograph is to help others (in any way, shape, or form).
2. Photography makes me a better human being
For me, photography is also self-therapy. I feel less stressed in life when I make photos. I ‘zen out’ by walking more, walking slower, and enjoying the beautiful sights around me.
Photography builds my self-confidence. It teaches me to take risks, and not be afraid of talking to strangers, trying out new things, or expressing myself creatively.
Photography gives me an artistic outlet. I believe all humans are born as creators. We need to create to feel human. To me, ‘creativity’ isn’t just having ideas. It is literally to create. So for me, I can create art with photography, through writing, music, video, conversation, whatever. I don’t want to be known as a ‘photographer’ anymore— just a curious child about life.
Photography gives me a chance to connect with others. To make new friends. To open up my eyes to the world, by learning from life lessons from other photographers. My favorite moments when teaching workshops is when I learn valuable life advice from my fellow peers and students. I have also met some of my best friends through photography — because I feel anyone who is interested in photography (especially street photography), tends to love human beings. It takes a unique human being to be interested in street photography— someone with a sensitive soul.
Photography helps me find beauty in the mundane and ordinary. I find beauty in a tree, trash on the ground, and the smile of strangers. I have found more personal satisfaction by paying attention through photography. Otherwise, I would always just be looking at my phone.
3. Why do you make photos?
So friend; what is the point of photography for you? The only way to figure it out is to ask yourself these questions.
I try to ask myself the ‘why’ question at least 3-5 times, to really find out why I do something. This is the beginning of studying philosophy — by studying yourself.
If anything, wisdom is just knowing yourself. Knowing why you live, why you do what you do, and what brings you joy and happiness in life. And knowing what brings you stress and misery— and knowing how to avoid it.
So think about why you make photos, and share your thoughts on social media with the #personalphotography hashtag. Hopefully this will help you find more direction, purpose, and enthusiasm in your photography.
To find more personal meaning in your photography, I recommend picking up a copy of ‘Photo Journal: Personal Photography Reflections.’
For a primer to personal photography, read the book: “The Personal Photography Manual”
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- Photograph What You Feel, and Feel What You Photograph
- Stay True To Your Own Style
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- Shoot different.
- Shoot What You Like
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- Find out What to Photograph, Not How
- Why Do You Take Photos?
- Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
- Do You Like Your Own Photos?
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