Why are you taking pictures? - Part I
We meet many photographers who have never asked why they were taking pictures. This fundamental question has no single answer. Every person who uses a camera has his own answer. Photographs are reflections of life. They can make us shiver in awe. They can help us move forward in life. They can make us laugh or cry. They can make us think about who we are and what we are doing here. They can inspire enthusiasm. And sometimes photographs can be uninteresting and flat.
But all photographers have something in common: they need to establish a relationship with the world.
Taking a picture has become a familiar action
With the advent of cheap digital cameras and phones equipped with cameras, taking a picture has become a commonplace act for many people. We just need to grab a camera out of a bag, a cell phone from a pocket, or a tablet, or a mini video camera to snap a photo. Taking a picture has become a normal, commonplace gesture for people of every generation.
Cameras of various forms have become accessories, like belts or earrings. For many people, they have become essential. People show off their cameras and carefully keep them safe.
Nobody asks how to take a picture. All you have to do is touch a screen. But the question still haunts us, even though everyone’s motivations are different: why take that picture?
For us, the answer is simple.
Taking a picture always establishes a relationship with the world
Once a photograph is taken, it is either intended to be only for its author, or it will be shared via an online version or a print. This photo represents a moment in the author's life.
We use the word "author" in its most general sense. An author is "an originator or creator of something," a person who has conceived and directed a new thing. An author can be great and interesting, or produce completely uninteresting works. But every photographer is still an author, because he created a photo by selecting a moment in time to preserve.
Freezing a moment of time by taking a picture is a way to remember exactly how a scene looked. Memory does not always faithfully reproduce what you saw, and it is difficult to exactly describe a scene in words.
This frozen instant of time will always be a proof that the author stood in a certain place. The snapshot permanently establishes a relationship between a person and a place or a scene. This is what we mean by a relationship with the world.
When we see photographers in action, we do not have time to ask everyone about his motives. So, over time, we have established a kind of classification of different types of photographers. This is pretty subjective and this classification is just something we came up with.
"I was there" photographers
Even though a picture is a link to a moment in the past, it is still possible for a photo to be uninteresting. This is the case with pictures taken by "I was there" photographers. The most typical example of an "I was there" photographer is unquestionably a tourist getting out of a crowded bus to photograph one of the extraordinary landscapes of the American West. Once off the bus, tourists flock to famous places. They take their places in front of some landmark and have someone snap a picture. Then they take a last quick look at the well-known scene, without appreciating the beauty of it. The important thing is that they have created a link with the world, and this picture, which is often completely uninteresting to everyone else, will testify that they were there.
Pictures taken by "I was there" photographers always include the photographer in the scene.
"I want to share this" photographers
Pictures taken by photographers who want to share their experiences are already more interesting than those taken by "I was there" photographers. "I want to share this" photographers often take a little time to analyze the scene they are photographing so that they will incorporate all the elements necessary to make their picture interesting enough to share.
The goal of these pictures is to share memories and emotions. These photos will be a starting point for long descriptions and stories.
"Do not forget" photographers
We are not ashamed to say it. Even though we are professional artistic photographers, we are also "do not forget" photographers. We never hesitate to take pictures of ourselves, just so that we will not forget the way we were. It is an indescribable pleasure. These photos are just for us. We never show them to other people. They preserve very personal memories.
"Do not forget" photographers are definitely the most important group of photographers. Their pictures are often simple, without artistic research.
The community of "testifying" photographers often brings together photographers who want to alert others to something. Their pictures are frequently self-explanatory and sufficient in themselves. Many times, these photos have highly technical compositions and framings, because they must have a very strong impact and immediately deliver a powerful message.