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Why and How: Defining Your Photographic Why – Part 1

Do you know what all successful photographers have in common, even after 10 or 15 years of photographic work?
They have a strong photographic why.

It is thanks to it that they find the energy to create new series, new photographic collections.

Maybe you have not considered yours yet?

It is high time you did so that you can continue to live your passion.

That is what I am going to explain to you in this article

This article will help you understand how to implement a new tool in your photography toolbox. By implementing it, you will make your photos even more interesting and give them true meaning.

Abstract conceptual photo of a landscape of Petrified Forest in Arizona. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Abstract conceptual photo of a landscape of Petrified Forest in Arizona.

The Little Story of This Article

When I started photography professionally in June 2003, it was more about seizing an opportunity than a real desire to become an entrepreneur.

Two years earlier, I had arrived in the United States. I was giving scuba diving lessons as a freelancer.

I also used to take underwater photos. I animated photo workshops for a diving center. One of my trainees who was a lawyer came up with the idea of creating my own company to sell my photos but also to eventually apply for the green card. At that time, I only had a visa.

It is by the greatest of chances that I started my career as a professional photographer.

After three years of hard work, my professional situation had hardly improved. I was still at the same point with increasingly frequent periods of discouragement. I decided to follow a marketing training course in photography that would last several months.

My pictures were technically good. I was working with several magazines, but I could not distinguish myself. I could not stand out from the crowd. I was stagnating.

One of the first things I learned was that I could be particularly good at photography, it did not allow me to really be remarkable through because the first link in the long chain that leads to confidence and success was missing. I did not know why I chose photography.

I had not defined my photographic why.

When I made this discovery, I was skeptical. I did not understand what this notion of photographic why could be used for. And yet the trainer insisted heavily. He made me practice different methods to define it.

It is after a few months that I finally understand its interest and its power.

Still today, every day, in moments of doubt, I repeat it to myself like a mantra. Without it I would not be where I am today.

I will explain why you need a strong photographic why if you want to create interesting pictures. You will understand why it will make you last in photography. You will see why it will allow you to be different from other photographers.

Every Good Photographer Has a Photographic Why

For me, a good photographer has the following qualities:

  • He has created consistent and coherent photographic collections.
  • He has a clear and well-defined photographic vision.
  • He lasts over time.
  • He is a photographer who knows how to reinvent himself.
  • He is pugnacious and always seeks to wait in excellence.
  • He understood that photography is a true medium of expression.

A good photographer is not necessarily someone who is well known and talked about in magazines or shows. A good photographer is not necessarily a media person.

I have met many good photographers in exhibitions, festivals, during my lectures and photo workshops.

Once the presentations are over, I always manage to ask the question "Why do you practice photography?”.

Even if it is surprising for my interlocutors, they always end up answering me. That is when I realize that I was not wrong about them: they were really good.

All of them have a valid, deep, and well-defined reason to practice photography. This is a sine qua non condition. All good photographers have a photographic why.

Definition of the Photographic Why

You will not find in the dictionary, a definition of the expression "Photographic why". I created it from scratch.

The photographic why defines the personal reasons why you practice photography. It defines the meaning of your photographic practice.

By definition, the word “meaning” means:

« The reason, the purpose of something, what justifies it. »

The word reason means:

« Which explains, justifiably done, an act. »

Combining the definitions of meaning and reason, I can say that the photographic why explains the fact that you practice photography. Your photographic why gives the reason why you are a photographer. It justifies why you chose this medium to express yourself.

In my opinion, the definition of the photographic why is the most important act for you. It is a founder. It is on this definition that you will build your entire photographic building.

I sincerely think and experience proves to me that without a clear photographic why, a photographer cannot last in time.

Why Defining Your Photographic Why

Defining your photographic why will allow you to better direct your creativity.

When you choose to make a new photo project, you will do so by marking your route correctly. You will avoid getting lost in the photographic meanders.

Since you have defined a specific goal, you will define different objectives to be achieved in order to move towards that goal.

For example, in my case as my photographic why is related to nature, I do not diverge doing portrait photography or architectural photography. I always stay focused on what I have chosen and defined at the beginning.

As I focus on my goal, I specialize more and more. I am getting better all the time. I am strengthening my foundations and my strengths. I am getting better.

It is exactly the same for you. Your photographic why will allow you to perfect yourself and strive for the excellence you are certainly looking for.

Defining your photographic why will also allow you to stand out from the crowd and create photos that are different from the others.

I am not saying you are going to create better pictures than the others. I am just saying you are going to be different. You will be noticed. You will be appreciated.

Indeed, the more you specialize, the more skills you will acquire. The more you will progress. Your style will assert itself more and more. You will be different. You will stand out from the crowd. You will be noticed is remarkable.

Defining your photographic why will help you to last in photography.

Defining a photographic goal with time-scaled objectives will allow you to think long-term. You will produce consistently and coherently. You will last over time.

Defining your photographic why will also give you a lifeline to hold on to when you are in doubt. Since you have chosen a creative activity, there will be many periods of doubt. Some capes will be difficult to overcome.

With a clear and precise photographic goal, a good reason to help photos and a meaning to your photographic approach, when you doubt, you will only have to think about your photographic why. It will all fall into place and you will go on.

Defining your photographic why allows you to gain confidence in yourself.

These few reasons should make you feel a strong photographic why.

But before I give you some methods to define it, let me give you some examples.

Some Examples of Photographic Why

Click Here to Read the Next Part of the Article.

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I Want to Help You to Create Interesting Photos