How would you go about defining photography?
Defining photography is a tall order. And honestly, a bit of a cheesy endeavour on my part. “Here we go … another pro photographer giving her two cents“
But hold your judgement, friends. At least for a second. I’m going to define it for myself, and give you a couple tools to define it for yourself too. Jump in, don’t be shy. It’s pretty cool down there. Scroll!
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
— Ansel Adams
Photography is an art form that has become so accessible it would be unsurprising of me to say that anyone can do it. Truth. Some of the greatest camera technology ever made is walking around in your pocket, purse, or backpack. (cough *your phone*) That thing we all love to hate but mostly love to love. Never has there been a time in history where an art form has been so available to any regular ol’ person. You can be a photographer anytime you want!
It’s exciting! But also, confusing. Because if anyone can do it, is it really art anymore?
Let’s try that whole defining photography thing now …
- Grab your phone or camera of choice, hold it in your hands and stare at it. Get awkward with it. Really just sit there for minute. And think about how far technology had to come for you to be holding this thing in your hands. It’s pretty fantastic that in just 203 years we’ve gone from blurry pieces of celluloid to unlimited storage of digital images right at our finger tips.
- Now, look through some of the pictures you have stored. What’s there? What are the patterns? What do you capture the most? Why do you think that is? My guess is, you’re interested in the subject. Or you just “really like it”. But I dare you to think of the real root reason why these images are taking up so much space. Photography becomes art when it is personal. So, think about it.
- After that reflection sesh, make an intention. The next time you pick up your camera to take 500 pictures of your dog, cat, child, or dinner, remind yourself of what makes this act meaningful to you. Keep going, or not, but allow that moment of mindfulness remind you to be present in the moment.
I can’t tell you what “art” or “photography” is for sure. I can’t even tell you if they are mutually exclusive. But … I can tell you what it’s not. Photography and art can be defined by escape, but it is not an excuse to mindlessly wander through your life and hope you’ll remember how you felt later.
So when you’re experiencing something beautiful, funny, or life affirming, put down your phone or camera for a second. Let the moment hit you. Really see what’s going on. Then maybe … MAYBE … snap a pic.
“Photography doesn’t teach you how to express your emotions; it teaches you how to see”
Here’s how I see it …
Photography is how I came to fall in love with portraiture. I have spent a long time in silence, observing the world around me, falling short of words and images, and capturing people at a faster and faster rate. My digital space is FULL OF FACES of people I love, new friends, and strangers. Each image is a meaningful reminder of an interaction that either helped me figure out some of my own ‘ish or was healing.
to the subject in someway… or to be very honest, in most circumstances, both. The process of getting to know someone and then taking their portrait has been an experience for me that can described nothing short of MAGIC.
It takes trust, vulnerability, presence, and humor. A potion that isn’t easy to come by all the time. But I have come to define my own photography practice through just that. And to me, that’s what it’s all about. Art or not. I don’t really care. I just wanna keep doing it. Somehow making it more meaningful each time… Defining photography has become my life’s passion and work. I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with a clear, dictionary worthy, turn of phrase. But I guess that’s where the images come in to play. Right?
So how would you go about defining photography? Is it art? Or science? Or just another way remember something epic? I don’t think there are many wrong answers, as long as you know why you’re doing it. Oh and a bit of grit helps too 🙂
Big thanks to my new friend Kristin for modeling for this set. You’re a beautiful human! And I can’t wait to work with you again soon.