Friday, May 28, 2010

What Do We Photograph For?

That is an interesting question, why do we take so many photos? Is it because we think something looks interesting so we take a few shots and move on? Are we trying to tell a story about something through a series of shots, or just recording a moment that we feel is important?

I think each one of those possible choices can be true of a photograph. You can tell a story simply by capturing the moment, but how can you take photos in a way that the viewer can understand that story without explanation. If someone found one of your photos 100 years from now would they be able to tell what was happening? In many cases we are just taking photos of things or events that hold interest to us personally, because the amount of people that will see the photo is likely very limited. What about those who want to take photos that have a larger appeal, people who want images to appear in print or in a story that will stand the test of time? I believe that in order for a person to achieve that goal you must tell a story through your photo, and it has to be the type of story that does not fade with time.

If we look at the photo I posted today, do you think it tells a story? Would that story be something that people in future generations would understand, or care about? Today this story has meaning because it represents a building that has fallen out of use in the past few decades, but a 100 years from now I doubt it would have much meaning. On the other hand a photo of a hummingbird could have meaning 100 years from now, if the species no longer exists! The story would be of a beautiful bird spices that was snuffed out by the growth of the human population into the hummingbirds habitats.

So take some time to think about what your photos say, both today, and what they could mean in the future.