It’s that time of year when we all get a little bit reflective and look back at the year that has passed, but also look ahead to what is to come. I, like many others, have some big plans for next year but I kept coming back to the same thought that I felt like I’d lost my way a little. Somehow, I felt like I wasn’t even sure ‘why’ I was taking pictures. This got me thinking, what is the meaning of Photography?
Now, in the most fundamental sense, photography is, as the definition states, simply capturing light in one form or another. However, anyone who has ever captured a beautiful sunset or the smile on the face of a loved one, knows that Photography is much more than that. You don’t even need to be particularly talented to take an image that means something to you, many of my favourite images were taken in the 80’s & 90’s on disposable 35mm cameras and the reason the images mean so much to me, they are of my Mom & Dad, who are no longer with us. That means that these images, with all of their technical imperfections are still incredibly valuable to me.
So what does that mean for those of us that are lucky enough to either has Photography as a hobby or even a job, what does it mean then? Well, the truth is that it becomes a passion. It is something that you can’t go a day without, like food and drink. Many people will get differing things from the art form. For me, it started an an opportunity to explore my city, Birmingham. It was a great way to discover new areas that I wasn’t aware of. It also open the doors to a whole new social world of people with a shared passion. I was fortunate that Birmingham has a fantastic community of photographers who are incredibly supportive (and sociable!).
In terms of Photography as career, when you are out shooting a muddy building site on a freezing December morning, it may seem like it would be easy to become disillusioned and just see Photography as a ‘job’. However, the pure satisfaction of creating an interesting image from the the bleak surroundings is still incredibly rewarding. Having a skill and being able to achieve something where others may struggle is a hugely satisfying thing.
On the other hand, there is social media, where ‘likes’, ‘hearts’ & retweets are strewn around like nobodies business. We all find a secret little thrill when we hear the ‘ping’ of the latest notification and our eyes dash to the vivid red of that latest ‘heart’ on our images as the endorphins start to race around our bodies. Nobody else feels like this? OK, well I may need to see a Doctor!
So what is the meaning of Photography? For me, it is simply creating something meaningful, something that brings joy to others or simply gives you the gratification of knowing that you have a skill and can harness it to your own advantage. This is what I feel I may have lost sight of over the last twelve months as I went through a bit of ‘creators block’. I now feel re-energised and ready to go into 2019 and focus on creating images that bring me satisfaction and maybe, other people might enjoy them too. We will see.