Photography is usually seen as a hobby more than a discipline, and perhaps the primary reason behind this is because its a highly flexible skill to practice. It doesn't matter if you do it for money or pleasure as long as you do it passionately.
I remember when I took up photography – it was in 2009 and I had a yearning for something creative in my life. I was studying Management (which I finished) but something was ticking in me, I needed to create something…anything.
I tried drawing, I sucked; I also tried making music, but it wasn't quite my thing. Finally, I started writing, and I found great relief, but I still needed to make something more visual than mere words on a page. I stumbled into photography, and now I have given my life to it.
I don't consider myself as a professional photographer since I make only a small part of my overall income from taking photographs. I'm more of a professional photography related writer, and I must say, photography is my great passion in life.
Today I want to share with you my very own and personal thoughts about the great things photography has given me after taking it up in a serious way.
1. It Takes You Out
We are currently living at a time in which we are making what was once public activity more and more private every single day. What do I mean by this? Simply by taking a lot of activities from the outside world into our own private spaces. We are less prone to go to the movies, we now stream. We eat out less than before thanks to the marvellous delivery apps on our mobile devices. We even work more from home nowadays than before.
Ergo, we are currently less involved with the outside world thanks to all the great solutions technology offers to us. The great thing about photography is that it takes you out for good. Yes, you can make a lot of beautiful photographs within your house, but it isn't as fun as going places. Do you remember Pokémon Go!? Well, the great success of this app wasn't the fun, but the fact that it made people get out from their houses and photography is capable of doing the same.
2. You Don't Need To Be A Professional
You can be anything else, and you can still be an excellent photographer, or at least somebody that has a great time thanks to photography. I first learned about this after listening to Valérie Jardin in one of her podcasts. She was talking about how she was once asked by a girl about being a paediatrician or a photographer. She told her to tilt for medicine because she could always be a photographer after all, but it would be a lot harder for her to have both if she decided to go with photography first.
3. It Is a Great Excuse
We are so drawn away from other people that photography pushes us back into being in touch with other individuals. As a documentary photographer and researcher, I've found that photography is a powerful excuse for simply listening to what others have to say. If it weren't for photography, I would be way more disconnected from reality than I already am.
Sometimes, it isn't about the photographs at all but more about hearing others out and understanding more about them. You have no idea how much people appreciate being listened to. And perhaps you can't even start to imagine how many great stories surround you and your life.
Photography is the ignition for those social interactions that seem to be fading away more and more as technology paradoxically get us closer to others but further from those surrounding us. Photography forces us to get closer to people that otherwise we wouldn't even talk to.
4. It Makes You Think Differently
I don't diminish photos taken with smartphones, but for me the fact of carrying a camera with me makes me feel kind of guilty for not seeing the world differently. Having the camera with me is a constant reminder that I need to pay more attention to everything surrounding me, from light to the moments.
If you are able to see differently, then you are definitely able to think differently as well. Many things are happening around us that we take for granted, and photography wakes us up in that sense.
5. It Keeps Our Surprise Ratio High
And speaking of modifying the way we see the world, there is an implied thing about being able to feel surprised by the every day thanks to photography as well. Think about the things that are extremely common to you that could be seen as extraordinary by foreign people visiting your hometown. Those things are the ones that you should still be able to be surprised from.
Let me tell you a brief story about my country. It is extremely common to see people being transported in a very reckless way. A long time ago, a cousin from Brazil came to visit us, and she came with a friend of hers. He was blown away by these trucks carrying people in such an unorthodox way. Another similar thing happened to me when I visited Argentina in 2012. In my country, pedestrians cross streets anywhere but the actual crossings. In Argentina, these crossings where highly respected and they are even spotlessly painted. It simply blew my mind, and locals couldn't understand my surprise. It is hard to think like a foreigner, but try hard, and you'll see a lot of meaningful and surprising things in your hometown.
6. It Allows You To Meet New People
From people inside photography communities and clubs to strangers on the streets, photography helps us meeting new and sometimes fascinating people. Communities are filled with many types of photographers as there are many types of people too, so don't feel bad if sometimes you find yourselves with a moron or a bully.
Speaking of communities, I want to give you folks an excellent tip, hang out with other photographers. Hanging out with peers will keep creative blocks further away than if you were always practising alone.
7. It Makes Travelling Even Better
Travelling is incredible, but photography does make it better, as long as you don't sacrifice enjoying your journey for taking photos. You need to be able to balance things out, and the best way to do this is to simply use the minimal amount of gear. If you carry all your lenses, bodies, tripods and even drones, then you won't enjoy your trip.
Having clear photography goals will make your globe-trotting more enjoyable, but you need to leave room for actually enjoying being there. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to forget to experience the travel. Just remember how much it is costing you, and you'll put your camera aside for a while.
8. It Never Stops Growing
I've been an enormous admirer of Josef Koudelka since I first saw this photograph. Right after learning more about his life, I can tell you that photography never stops growing. He first started a career as an aeronautical engineer in 1961, but after taking up photography, he never came back to the engineering world. The main reason, because he felt engineering had already taught him everything that he would ever need to know about it. Photography, on the other hand, is still teaching him stuff.
I've been shooting for ten years now, and I still feel like an apprentice, and I know there is still a long and steep road to walk. Photography has seen me study for my BBA, MSc, and currently my PhD, and it will always be my greatest companion in life.
9. It Allows You To Share
Photography is one of those disciplines that opens the doors of empirical knowledge. A lot of what I know about photography has been self-taught, and here I am, teaching and writing about it at a professional level. This opens the opportunity of sharing every single bit of knowledge we have with others and vice-versa. Helping others to enter the world we love is a fantastic experience, at least for us.
10. It Can Save You
Last but not least, I believe photography is so compelling that it can save you. I've heard from peers where that photography has saved them from drug addictions and alcoholism. And not because of the expense, but because it gives them amazing experiences, a creative outlet, and ensures they see the beauty in the world every day.
Alright, so by now hopefully you understand why I think photography is a fulfilling way of life, but what about you?
Why do you think photography is worth taking up? On another occasion, Jason Row gave us his own opinion about the topic. Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with us.