Humans are weird! As we navigate our way through the complications of everyday life we make choices that have varying degrees of impact, both on ourselves and those around us. Some decisions we make are forced, indicating the absence of choice. But some are voluntary. We also face varying levels of equality in the choices available to us. Generally speaking, there’s more choice available to us now than there ever has been. So do you ever wonder why we make some choices over others?
Forming an identity
When we meet someone new, the general etiquette is to ask ‘where are you from?’ or ‘what do you do?’, the latter of course usually refers to what we do for a living. The answers to these questions both help to shape our identities and it’s the choices we’ve made through time that define the answers.
For me, the answer to the second question is ‘I’m a photographer’, and this article explains why I made that choice. My ‘about me‘ page gives a little insight around the time that I made this decision, so I won’t repeat myself again here. But please read that page if you would like to know the history.
This article is more about what keeps me making images every day. My ‘why’ is multifaceted and, as a result, spans multiple genres. The most basic reason comes in the form of my landscape photography.
There are some stunning places on this giant spinning ball of rock and it’s a joy to capture them. I find landscape photography a meditative experience. Being ‘busy’ seems to be all the rage at the moment, so to slow everything down is quite refreshing. Sadly, I believe that some of the beautiful places I photograph won’t be around forever, so this is my way of documenting a place in time and showing it those within my reach.
A search for meaning
As beautiful as our planet is, and as much joy and serenity as it brings me to capture it, landscape photography doesn’t quite go deep enough for me. I want to tell more stories with my images and search for the beauty in ordinary places and situations. I want people to ask questions of my work in the same way that my inquisitive mind is always asking questions of the world. I want the viewer to love it or hate it and actually cringe a little when someone uses the word ‘nice’ to describe my work. I’d rather they hated it and would actually take that as more of a compliment. I’m not sure who said it first, but to quote a well known phrase “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”.
So where am I going with this if it’s not about landscape photography? Well, for me, this is where street photography comes in. I guess you could say it’s similar to what I said above in that I’m documenting places in time, except this time there’s the added element of people which makes it so much more interesting in my opinion.
We’re trapped in our own bodies so are forced to live the choices we make everyday, there’s no escaping that I’m afraid! Sometimes the routine can get a bit monotonous. But to a street photographer it’s fascinating.
I have so many questions like ‘where is that person going?’, ‘why is that person sitting there?’, ‘what are they reading?’. Of course, I’m not nosey enough to genuinely want to know the answer. In fact, quite the contrary, I think knowing the truth would spoil it a little. As it is, I’m free to create my own stories.
Going back to my point about the visual documentation of places, I feel this is particularly important on the streets. They’re changing rapidly but we tend to notice it less. Perhaps because we walk these streets every day.
I wrote an article on Medium recently about how the high street is dying. The point of the article was that it’s not actually dying as we often perceive it to be. It’s simply changing, which is what society does as time moves on.
If we can turn that in to something positive, I believe that the ability to influence progressive change is something that we should celebrate. It’s something that, as a species, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for.
If you’ve visited my home page, you’ll see that I sell my services as a portrait photographer, so where does that come in to all of this? Until now, the general message of this article has been about documenting places. My why for street photography started to introduce people in to the equation but this is where things get more intimate.
Sometimes, a portrait is shot on a location which may enhance that story, if it’s an important feature of who the person is in the photograph. But the main focus is the individual and who they are. This is where I aim to answer those questions asked at the beginning of this article (and in the article I wrote last week), ‘why do you make the choices you make?’.
Conveying your identity and the person behind what you do and why you do it helps to make you more personable so that you can engage with more people online. Or maybe you just want an image of yourself to hang on a wall, or to remind yourself and show your grandkids how good you look for years to come? Either way, I’d love to hear your story.
No one said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it
I hope you enjoyed finding out about why I make images. Discovering why we do what we do isn’t always easy when you’re looking for something deeper than just ‘because I like it’. This article is up there with one of the most difficult I’ve ever written, but nothing worth doing is ever easy.
Take care, and have a great day!