November 6, 2020

Why photography matters

thoughts, life, photography

What's so important about photographs?

In some ways this questions is tricker to answer now than it's ever been.

Why pay a photographer? Or, zoning out a bit more: why does it matter that photographs exist in the first place? And why have really good, professional pics to look at?

Ok, this is fodder for, like, 37 doctoral dissertations. But I will offer a few thoughts on the matter, because it's a discussion worth having.

Most of us have phones with cameras in them in our pockets at all times. Anyone who wants can frame up an amazing shot, edit it in one of the bazillions of photo editing apps, and seem like a professional. Don't get me wrong, I actually LOVE that people are getting creative with photos on a daily basis; as an artist I will always be a proponent of furthering creativity among the collective, whatever that looks like. Please, go be creative!

However, as a professional who is trying to feed a child, I do have some thoughts on the business side of things. And as an artist, I have some thoughts on everything else. ;)

When we talk about adding value to digital images, we are talking about this phone-in-pocket phenomenon I mentioned. If anyone can click a button and make some magic, why should we pay photographers so much? Y'all, it's not just about making money, let me assure you. It's about passion, drive, thriving, connecting, art, and love. No, really. Those are the things that drive good photographers to spend thousands of dollars on equipment and eduction, thousands of hours learning about lighting and posing bodies and psychology (photo shoots are, like, 87.4% psychology), and dedicate our lives to hone in on something which allows us to make money while working with people.

I often think of photo journalists. Have you ever asked this question: how would the world or you be different if we didn't have photos of the astronauts landing on the moon? What about the civil rights marches? Wars? Your great grandmother? Your birth?

You see, those still images (and I do love a good video editing sesh, but more on that in another post) provide something unique and push the wave of humanity in a really specific direction. Images make us stop and think, remember. We get a vibe from them. We tell a story when we see them. They inspire movement. They help life thrive.

Because we are is much more than our actions or abilities or words. Life is so deep.

Aaaand it's actually perfect that I can't fully put into words what a photograph means because that's the whole point!

Here, see what I mean:

I could try and describe what this mama felt as she nursed her newborn son - I could ask her to describe it and try to convey with words - or I could just show you this image and you can have all the feelings you have about seeing this. Your feelings are different from what the mama in this picture felt when I took this, but your feelings about this photo matter and they are real. Believe it or not, your feelings about this photo make the world go 'round.

I believe that we need quality, still images to document our lives. And not just for posterity, either, but to showcase our love and humanity as it it right now.

I can make arguments all day long for why photography and digital images are very valuable monetarily, but what matters more is the heart behind it all. Yes, please support photographers and artists who want to work with you and document your stories.

And more importantly, try to see that the images that aren't just phone snapshots - killer though your editing skillz may be - but that are truly professional, are a necessary part of this human existence.

I'm banking a lot of my hope on for the future on this.