Why do I photograph?

There’s a local youth arts competition going on now and after visiting the website yesterday, my first thought was to contact an artistically inclined friend whose interesting works came to mind, asked him if he knew about the competition and encouraged him to take part. This friend, Nigel, is talented in illustration (see his blog here), and he asked me if I was going to submit anything too. The competition has a few categories and if I were to take part, I’d best fit in the Photography category. Upon consideration, I realised none of my photos so far would be good enough for the competition. Because I’ve never had a story to tell.

The first-ever photo I took with Rosa. Post-processed, of course

The first-ever photo I took with Rosa. Post-processed, of course

When I first delved into photography, all I wanted was to take nice photos. Of course I looked at photos taken by professionals and admired them. I could say, Wow, just by looking at this photograph, I feel compelled to smile/laugh/cry/frown. It took me years to really understand why they had such impact. They have a story in mind even before the camera is set up.

I thought it was because I tend to take architectural shots, and how could architectural shots possibly induce any emotions, right? Wrong. This guy is able to capture buildings that, with some careful composition and diligent post-processing, turn into places that have a secret to whisper.

Yet time and again, when I leave my house with Rosa in my bag, I forget all that and end up with more meaningless photos.

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I gave the competition a second thought and had the idea that maybe I could try to set up a concept first before leaving for a photo-trip. It will be a challenge to look for and only photograph things that fit my concept. I wonder how many photo-trip sessions it will take? Just one? A few? And I still have to leave some time for the digital lightroom. Submissions close at the end of this month.

It might just work. Because I want to photograph not just to have nice photos to show; I want to be an artist.

It's like she's listening patiently to someone...

It’s like she’s listening patiently to someone…

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2 responses to “Why do I photograph?

  1. A difficult process for me as well – it’s very hard to get a story in a photo and i feel that’s what’s most lacking in my photos as well

    • Since this post, I realised that the other option to having a solid set of photos is to have a common theme. Even without a concept or story, if the photos all have some things in common (like black & white, flowers) then it’s as if the collective set of images tell a single story (like, flowers without their colours look as soulless as people without faces). It’s a little harder to get the idea across, and it leaves more room for the viewer to self-intepret (and there’s the chance they’ll intepret it wildly differently from what you intended)

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