What's the point of photography?

TSE

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jun 25, 2007
3,128
884
St. Paul, Minnesota
In the age of instagram & smartphones, what is the point of photography?


We've all seen a thousand images of castles & temples in Japan.

We've all seen a gazillion black & white candid street shots of a homeless guy being ignored by rich people.

We've all seen some "artsy" portrait of someone behind a cafe glass front.

We've all seen pictures of every imaginable type of flower with the background bokeh'd to hell.

We've all seen countless images of mountains, lakes, birds, flowers, trees, rivers, & cityscapes.


What does photography mean to YOU and why do you do it?
 

mpfuchs

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2014
519
1,379
VA
Most of the pictures I take, don't get shared online.
My close family and friends will get to see them, but that's about it.

For me, photography is not a tool to show other people how I travel the world, what I get to see and how many likes they accumulate.
For me it's all about the challenge of decent exposure (the triangle kind of way), sharpness and composition, etc...
I don't need other people to see my photos, to feel good or bad about them.

On the other hand, I like looking pictures up online to get inspiration and find new places to go.
Maybe I'm selfish that way.
 

sunapple

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2013
1,950
2,973
The Netherlands
I'm no photographer myself, but I like to think that everyone has their own perspective on the world and that the world is ever-changing, the current set of photos that have been taken is already out-of-date.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
39,601
29,486
Behind the Lens, UK
In the age of instagram & smartphones, what is the point of photography?


We've all seen a thousand images of castles & temples in Japan.

We've all seen a gazillion black & white candid street shots of a homeless guy being ignored by rich people.

We've all seen some "artsy" portrait of someone behind a cafe glass front.

We've all seen pictures of every imaginable type of flower with the background bokeh'd to hell.

We've all seen countless images of mountains, lakes, birds, flowers, trees, rivers, & cityscapes.


What does photography mean to YOU and why do you do it?
We’ve all heard what an electric guitar sounds like so why ever listen to one again (let alone the same song!).

But I enjoy taking good photos. I enjoy being creative with my composition.
I enjoy getting out and taking photos.
I like the challenge (especially in the UK!) of getting the right lighting conditions etc.
 

kenoh

macrumors demi-god
Jul 18, 2008
5,585
8,612
Glasgow, UK
Most of the pictures I take, don't get shared online.
My close family and friends will get to see them, but that's about it.

For me, photography is not a tool to show other people how I travel the world, what I get to see and how many likes they accumulate.
For me it's all about the challenge of decent exposure (the triangle kind of way), sharpness and composition, etc...
I don't need other people to see my photos, to feel good or bad about them.

On the other hand, I like looking pictures up online to get inspiration and find new places to go.
Maybe I'm selfish that way.

Everything you said... Same here...

I also like looking at a nice image and trying to work out how it was done. I like the feeling I get when I see a picture I like, that feeling is intensified when it is an image I made.
 
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akash.nu

macrumors G3
May 26, 2016
9,053
10,686
I like the challenge of capturing something worthy in memory. Biologically our brain is pictorial, which means it recognises pictures better. If you don’t have pictures you’ll never remember those awesome moments you spent at an unbelievable place or say the time spent with your loved ones etc.

On top I like to challenge myself with only phone cameras to capture these moments, just to prove it to myself that skill matters more than the tool. I’m constantly improving and evolving.

My 10 years before and after picture is what I looked at to reiterate this to myself.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BstHHvfDQ4Q/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=3gmek45uw8g3
 

tizeye

macrumors 65816
Jul 17, 2013
1,148
8,517
Orlando, FL
The point of photography? My bank account is happy.

Personally, I only post crap to the copyright stealing centers known as Instagram and Facebook. Others, I may share with family or sell through various means. While the stock photo market has been destroyed with giveaway prices as I retire, I am looking at other mechanisms to generate a little extra income.
 

Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Sep 26, 2017
2,872
12,350
Tanagra (not really)
A slightly different take, maybe:

Yes, you can look at someone else’s photos of the places you’ve been. Some of them might even be better, but when I look at the pictures I took, I more vividly remember being in that place than I ever would by looking at a thousand photos taken by everybody else.

If others like what I took, that’s just a bonus.
 

kazmac

macrumors G3
Mar 24, 2010
9,155
7,338
Any place but here or there....
I do not shoot much at all. For me, it's about the moment, the particular animal, and/or how color, light, and shadow filter across the subject and the environment.

It's another of way being creative visually and playing with light and shadow.

I've come to appreciate photography through design and film.
 
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TSE

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jun 25, 2007
3,128
884
St. Paul, Minnesota
We all have a reason for everything we do. What is your reason for asking this question @TSE?

Thanks for asking.

I used to be really into photography, and quite enjoyed it. I don't want to say I was great or anything, but certainly had a naturally better ability than most, and even was contacted by some locally-famous photographers who dug my stuff. I was hoping to maybe turn my hobby into something a little more serious, maybe not a career, but certainly a passionate hobby that might earn some money.

Then I got instagram, and discovered that there's always very similar pictures that I took, some better, and some worse, and it really bummed me out. Maybe I wasn't as good as I thought, but it really took the enjoyment of the hobby out. Why create art if everyone else is doing it?

So I ask myself that question every time I walk into my room and the A7iii with 40 shutters sits on my counter, unused. Really hoping to find meaning again with the hobby.
 

kazmac

macrumors G3
Mar 24, 2010
9,155
7,338
Any place but here or there....
Thanks for asking.

I used to be really into photography, and quite enjoyed it. I don't want to say I was great or anything, but certainly had a naturally better ability than most, and even was contacted by some locally-famous photographers who dug my stuff. I was hoping to maybe turn my hobby into something a little more serious, maybe not a career, but certainly a passionate hobby that might earn some money.

Then I got instagram, and discovered that there's always very similar pictures that I took, some better, and some worse, and it really bummed me out. Maybe I wasn't as good as I thought, but it really took the enjoyment of the hobby out. Why create art if everyone else is doing it?

So I ask myself that question every time I walk into my room and the A7iii with 40 shutters sits on my counter, unused. Really hoping to find meaning again with the hobby.

I’ve always wanted to draw and was intimidated by artists I’ve admired, read and followed for years. Then I decided I would draw for fun, for me. Not for the internet (the likes are nice), but ultimately being creative with my art is not only fun and gratifying, it psychologically helps me too. There will always be artists I admire, who are better than me and that’s fine. The iPad Pro drawing thread is filled with talented folks work and that makes me want to keep going. Now I have even more fun taking the expectation and comparison out of it. Even if I am coping comic art or an image, I revel in the imperfections as much as nailing it.

That makes it more enjoyable for me.

When I do take photos, it is the same theory for me.

No one else has your eye, so why worry about it?

Every photographer whose work I’ve seen here takes beautiful, unique images.

Instagram? So what.

Hope you get to snapping again.
 

tizeye

macrumors 65816
Jul 17, 2013
1,148
8,517
Orlando, FL
A slightly different take, maybe:

Yes, you can look at someone else’s photos of the places you’ve been. Some of them might even be better, but when I look at the pictures I took, I more vividly remember being in that place than I ever would by looking at a thousand photos taken by everybody else.

If others like what I took, that’s just a bonus.
This
Today I was looking for a 2019 calendar. Saw one of Barcelona and glanced at the photos. I'm thinking...you have to be kidding me. Seemed quite sterile as I reflected back on my experiences there and the intimacy to the city that reflected my experiences there.
 
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Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Sep 26, 2017
2,872
12,350
Tanagra (not really)
Thanks for asking.

I used to be really into photography, and quite enjoyed it. I don't want to say I was great or anything, but certainly had a naturally better ability than most, and even was contacted by some locally-famous photographers who dug my stuff. I was hoping to maybe turn my hobby into something a little more serious, maybe not a career, but certainly a passionate hobby that might earn some money.

Then I got instagram, and discovered that there's always very similar pictures that I took, some better, and some worse, and it really bummed me out. Maybe I wasn't as good as I thought, but it really took the enjoyment of the hobby out. Why create art if everyone else is doing it?

So I ask myself that question every time I walk into my room and the A7iii with 40 shutters sits on my counter, unused. Really hoping to find meaning again with the hobby.

It doesn’t matter if you are the best. No, I’m not talking about “we’re all winners here.” Just have fun, hang your work on your walls. Improve for the sake of improving. See how good you can become. You may surprise yourself. I’m not a pro golfer, but I like to play golf. I’m not the best gamer, but I still pick up a controller. If it draws you in and you have some ability, put it to good use, I say.
 

Karnicopia

macrumors 6502
Mar 27, 2015
436
249
A slightly different take, maybe:

Yes, you can look at someone else’s photos of the places you’ve been. Some of them might even be better, but when I look at the pictures I took, I more vividly remember being in that place than I ever would by looking at a thousand photos taken by everybody else.

If others like what I took, that’s just a bonus.

This is pretty much it for me, it's a way of capturing a moment so you can always look back on it. Some moments are better seen with your eye but some can be better captured in that perfect moment forever and when you see that picture it instantly takes you back.

Also taking pictures has changed the way I look at things. I notice the clouds more, I find locations I drove past before, it just gets me out more and doing different and interesting things so taking pictures makes me see more than I would without it.

To me the point of learning about photography is a bit of the first paragraph just having the skills to effectively capture a moment as it unfolds in front of you and the benefit of it is that it gets me to look deeper at the world around me so I notice and make myself available for more of these moments.
 
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steveash

macrumors 6502a
Aug 7, 2008
511
216
UK
I've been making some or all of my living from photography for about 15 years now. So it is a job but also a lot more. For a long time I resisted posting my work on social media. I feel that it is cheapened by putting it among this huge mass of disposable images (not necessarily disposable in quality but in that by tomorrow they are old news). I wanted my work to sit in alone and be carefully considered rather than skipped over in a second or two. The reality however is that if I don't show it, it will hardly be seen. It won't be seen by my peers and it won't be seen by my potential clients.

I agree that looking at Instagram can be disheartening. I follow many of the top people in my field and so the work I see in my feed each day is exceptional. Sometimes I see an image which just blows my work away. I also see people with average work and yet somehow have hordes of followers and list of big clients. I try to keep it as motivation. In my own little bubble, its was easy to feel smug and pleased with my work without ever moving forwad, but next to my peers I am driven to improve and feel the standard of my work is getting better all the time. The constant need for fresh work means that I am doing more personal work too.

I'm certainly more humble but a lot more motivated.
 

Reality4711

macrumors 6502a
Aug 8, 2009
668
519
scotland
In the age of instagram & smartphones, what is the point of photography?


We've all seen a thousand images of castles & temples in Japan.

We've all seen a gazillion black & white candid street shots of a homeless guy being ignored by rich people.

We've all seen some "artsy" portrait of someone behind a cafe glass front.

We've all seen pictures of every imaginable type of flower with the background bokeh'd to hell.

We've all seen countless images of mountains, lakes, birds, flowers, trees, rivers, & cityscapes.


What does photography mean to YOU and why do you do it?

Oh how I get this. Oh yes, yes, yes!

Asking why you do this or that does not, however, give you the answers you are looking for.

The reason is simple; every answer is personal.

There may be similarities but in each case there are variations that can and do make the answers more problematic than the real answer.

As an example:- before I turned pro. I took very few photographs (cost of film/development and print costs) - after turning pro. these cost were taken care of by the client and as long as they got what they wanted I made a profit. So instead of one roll of film I would expose 5/10 rolls, I learnt more and faster because of that and the pressures involved with not making mistakes with film as a medium - retirement (having moved to digital and virtually stagnating to a money maker rather than creator) I found the drive to go get an image had and is gone.

Analyse that all you want but it is part of 'my' reasoning, backstory, whatever and can only be really seen through my eyes.

Does any of it apply to your question? Maybe.

The hardest thing is not having a reason to pick up the camera that makes sense to you!

Find a reason inside and the rest of your questions will get answered here;)!

If you really look and still see nothing to get your juices going there is no harm or blame or guilt that should be applied by you or others for that. Go play football. Cook. Sex. All excellent pastime IMO..:) BUT No feeeely bad about it.:D!
 

Cheese&Apple

macrumors 68010
Jun 5, 2012
2,004
6,604
Toronto
Thanks for asking.

I used to be really into photography, and quite enjoyed it. I don't want to say I was great or anything, but certainly had a naturally better ability than most, and even was contacted by some locally-famous photographers who dug my stuff. I was hoping to maybe turn my hobby into something a little more serious, maybe not a career, but certainly a passionate hobby that might earn some money.

Then I got instagram, and discovered that there's always very similar pictures that I took, some better, and some worse, and it really bummed me out. Maybe I wasn't as good as I thought, but it really took the enjoyment of the hobby out. Why create art if everyone else is doing it?

So I ask myself that question every time I walk into my room and the A7iii with 40 shutters sits on my counter, unused. Really hoping to find meaning again with the hobby.
I enjoy photography because it marries nicely with my other passions: Being outdoors, enjoying nature and travel. Because of this, I've gravitated towards wildlife and landscape photography.

The other thing that's happened and has evolved over a period of many years is that I've become part of a strong social circle of like-minded photographers. These are people I've met while being outdoors and travelling. Some of these people are very experienced photographers who have taught me a lot and have inspired me to do and learn more.

In your case, my first and most obvious comment to you is to stay off Instagram but it goes deeper than that. Myself, I enjoy looking at the work done by others and will often pursue an image that I've seen and really liked because I want it for myself and I want to do myself. I don't care at all if it's been done a thousand times before by others.

I think that this boils down to my perspective that I enjoy photography for me and me alone. I'm not in competition with anyone but myself.

I suggest to you TSE that you can find inspiration in the company of other photographers...photographers in real life - not in the false reality of social media platforms like Instagram. If possible, join a camera club. They're everywhere and may find that other people provide you with a different outlook.

The other suggestion, if time and finances permit and if it's of personal interest to you, is to go somewhere, travel, for the specific purpose of photography. This was a game-changer for me in my pursuit of wildlife and landscape images. My wife is not into photography so when I travel with her, I take a few vacation snapshots but that's it. The rest of the time I simply relax and enjoy our time together. But when I travel by myself or with a photography friend or two, it's a very different situation where I'm up and out at bizarre hours chasing light and photographic opportunities that I would have missed sunning on a beach or sitting in a restaurant. Not that I don't enjoy relaxing on a beach or a great meal, it just works better for me that I'm able, and have the opportunity, to separate the two.

Sorry for the long-winded response @TSE but your question is an important one and it's one that I sense you're struggling with.

~ Peter
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
53,416
36,620
The Far Horizon
Some great responses here:

I take photographs for a number of reasons: As @mollyc has observed, for a long time, I was the family record keeper; I also love the study of light - how the play of light affects an image or one's perspective.

I love history - and so, while I like to photograph old buildings, I also like to make a record of what I saw at a given time and place, as a witness. And I like streetscape photography.

And I also like those shots where you picture the same people over years in the same setting, or picture the same setting - and note how it changes - over time.
 
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mpfuchs

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2014
519
1,379
VA
The other suggestion, if time and finances permit and if it's of personal interest to you, is to go somewhere, travel, for the specific purpose of photography. This was a game-changer for me in my pursuit of wildlife and landscape images. My wife is not into photography so when I travel with her, I take a few vacation snapshots but that's it. The rest of the time I simply relax and enjoy our time together. But when I travel by myself or with a photography friend or two, it's a very different situation where I'm up and out at bizarre hours chasing light and photographic opportunities that I would have missed sunning on a beach or sitting in a restaurant. Not that I don't enjoy relaxing on a beach or a great meal, it just works better for me that I'm able, and have the opportunity, to separate the two.

Same here. Travelling with my wife it always felt like I was holding things up and therefore rushing the process of taking a picture.
When I'm out by myself, I might stand for an hour in one spot, because I'm waiting for something special to happen.

Two totally different mindsets.
 

anotherscotsman

macrumors 68020
Aug 2, 2014
2,243
15,365
UK
Several complementary reasons for me. I use photography as a reason to get out and about in the outdoors (city or countryside ) with the bonus that looking for a photogenic scene (whatever that might be) makes me pay more attention to the landscape around me rather than on the next bit of boggy ground to step in. The photo helps to capture the mood of the day and coming back from a day out with a couple of decent photos is icing on the cake although I need to make sure that photographic failure doesn’t end up spoiling the day! Doing a bit of location research in advance also helps get more out of the time spent there both in terms of photography but also understanding of the location itself (history for example).

Doing some walking and photography (including limited post processing) is a great way for me to switch off from work - a real change in mindset.

I post to MF and Flickr since both have provided plenty of inspiration to me over the last couple of years and in the remote chance that anything I post can help others get into photography even if only showing how not to do it then I’d be happy. Likes are nice to get and in the early days can act as some sort of guide but you have to learn whose opinions actually count for you - ultimately do it for yourself and for your own reasons.
 
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