One of the things I find fascinating about photography is that it can be approached from a million directions and can mean a million different things to different people. I enjoy talking to other photographers a lot – I find it very interesting to learn what they personally see in this art and what they shoot for (pun intended) with their images. I have a friend who takes photos of kids and families; she has perfected her portrait techniques over many years. I know another photographer whose work you will never see – odd as that may sound, I get it: it is private, it is the imprint of his heart and soul, he prefers to share his art with his immediate circle only.
Have you ever stopped to think what photography means to you? What do you want to express with your images? Do you want to reflect reality as closely as possible? Or do you admire wildlife or landscapes so much that you want to promote their protection by sharing the most perfect nature photos possible? Perhaps you are a master of digital image editing and enjoy conveying an abstract vision; dream-like, other-worldly, transporting the viewer to another dimension.
Whatever the drive, I bet there is one single thing that connects all of us DSLR users. The click. When you press the shutter and hear that sound, it is a sound of self-expression, art, curious experiment, excitement, creativity.
For me, photography has a deeply spiritual aspect. I am what I guess you could call a travel photographer – not focusing on one certain area of photography, just taking a shot of whatever catches my attention. It is sometimes a mundane, everyday thing I see on the street, other times a thoroughly planned composition inspired by a track that has been playing in my mind ever since I first heard it, or by a quote from my favourite writer.
One thing is sure, when I feel down or experience emotional turmoil (good or bad), going out to shoot is the most uplifting and rebalancing thing I can imagine, apart from listening to music. Thinking about something beautiful, visually pleasing, and focusing on possible compositions, colours, planning the technical part – which is the lowest shutter speed I can get away with? what depth of field would be ideal for the image I have in mind? – not only takes my mind off everything else for a while, but it also channels my soul through my camera into the resulting image.
There is also the post processing part. Some people enjoy that, others look at Lightroom as the devil’s tool. Again, so many different ways to think about what you want to do with your art. I personally like to spend some time on my photos, I take pleasure in fine-tuning the details and see what I can get out of my raw files. The learning curve here really appeals to me. There is so much to learn that mastering this part really sets a good photo apart from the rest.
And then there is the joy of sharing your images with other people and knowing – hoping – that perhaps one of your photos will give them a moment’s respite from their worries in the rush of the day. I have the greatest respect for people who have the skills and equipment to take fantastic photos and choose to share them with others. There is often so much time, effort, sacrifice behind one photo, viewers have no idea. This is especially true for wildlife photography, which often requires specialized gear and being out in the field at odd hours, but even I have stood for hours rooted to a spot, waiting for the right light.
I enjoy looking at good photos so much, I can spend minutes taking in the details of a beautiful image. If just one person takes the same pleasure in looking at my gallery, it was worth it. But even if nobody looks at my photos, there is no denying that catching a moment and returning home with a great image you yourself are happy with is very gratifying. So I go out and shoot not only when I feel inspired, but also when I need to find myself.
And with that, I feel better, uplifted, my heart becomes lighter. Creativity and mindfulness do the magic.
So – what’s in it for you?
This guest post was submitted by Judit Szabo. To see more of her work, please visit her 500px page.
I totally feel the same. I have been photographing for 60 years now and I enjoy the taking (the “click”) itself having precedence over the end result.
I find myself as you called it a “Travel Photographer”…i love that i don’t have to go out and take pictures of anything specific….i feel a true sense of freedom… when taking my pictures I think of at that point if it is personal or if I am going to share and i love sharing my photo’s with others….so therapeutic and relaxing…Thank you for such a great article
Glad you enjoyed it, Brian! Thanks for your comment.
I liked your article very much Judit. Taking good pictures always tells as much about the photographer as about the subject(s). Sharing with other people the way I see the world is very meaningful to me.
I loved your pictures. Being from Groningen myself, your last picture had a special meaning for me too.
Wow, how cool is that! :) I visited for a week last autumn, it was great. Charming town, I really liked the place.
What an interesting article. Excellent images, too. The therapeutic value of any art is amazing. I remember selling all of my photographic gear and guitar during my divorce many years ago and the joy of getting back to it, the pain of missing it. Our cameras, like our pets, are often our sole companions through hard times. The process of sharing the beauty all around us is so enjoyable, I think, because we, as people viewing images, touch on points of the common and the unique. We may agree on a photograph’s merit and value but have completely different reasons why it’s so impressive. When we capture these images, we capture a very interesting part of us and sharing that can be the most satisfying part of the process. We, as individuals, are all books, walking around waiting to be read. Photographers are librarians. So, Judit. Your book is awesome ! And your images and article did give me one of those “Wow” moments while I munched on my peanut butter sandwich(don’t judge me…I’m hungry and I just woke up…) and looked out the window, thinking of shots in this foggy morning (Love ‘dat fog). Life is short and precious and there are many truly gifted photographers out there (Nasim is in that group…). Let’s get out there and start painting with those cameras.
Thanks Tom! Very happy to know that my article inspired a “wow” moment. In fact, I cannot imagine a bigger compliment than that. Thanks for reading both the article and the “book”, with an attentive eye. :)
Wonderful images. I was happy also because I do have the same camera and I use the same lens many many times. Nevertheless, not many times I achieved such a great quality of photos. Good learning for me.
Thanks Vinayak! I’m glad you liked the photos. Always happy to consult with other D7200 owners. I love this combo, the D7200 is an extremely capable camera with a lot of advanced features, and I’ve yet to find a better lens than the 35mm. I actually bought a zoom lens but sold it soon after – Nikon or not, it just didn’t give me the same image quality as the 35mm. I’d rather “zoom with my legs” than compromise on sharpness.
Wow. What a joy to read your article. I too simply love photography as a hobby but sometimes share my output. I did some work for pay but did not like the experience although the outcome was pleasing to my clients. I gave that part up as it was not satisfying. Instead I now just focus on the fun and sometimes the amazing outcome. I even surprise myself (and others). Your shared images are great and inspirational. Try and share as they are worthy.
Thanks so much Steve – very kind of you! I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.
“I enjoy looking at good photos so much, I can spend minutes taking in the details of a beautiful image. If just one person takes the same pleasure in looking at my gallery, it was worth it. But even if nobody looks at my photos, there is no denying that catching a moment and returning home with a great image you yourself are happy with is very gratifying. So I go out and shoot not only when I feel inspired, but also when I need to find myself.” – Judit Szabo
I agree with you on this 100%. I love looking at good photos whether it’s archtecture, landscape, street photos, peoples, animals and etc. I always feel like I was there with the photographer when I look at good photos. To me photography is a passion, no matter how tired I was after taking photos the excitement of viewing it big in front of my monitor is always healing.
I particularly like the picture of the Groote Markt in Groningen, the Netherlands. It’s got exactly that street photography feeling to it. Nice work and I agree completely. I often take my camera along when I drive to work and find myself much more attentive to the nood of the day.
Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the Groote Markt pic. It took a very long time to get that shot, actually. I wanted to photoghraph it late afternoon, but there was a fish cart in the frame that wouldn’t move for hours… I figured I might as well hang around until nightfall :)
Wings42: I would think it’s a tremendous burden to review and process 150-300 photos a day–even if you only work on a small percentage of them in post. I grew up with film and still shoot that way, namely, one shot at a time, carefully (I hope). I still end up with far more also-rans than winners. And you save them all on your computer? You must have a huge hard drive. Please understand I share the pleasure in photographing that you and other commenters have expressed. I’m just curious about how you deal with so many images.
Gary, you are right. I deal with so many images poorly.
The main problem is with my preferred subjects, birds. They’re usually too far, the light is wrong or the bird isn’t posed right. I’m often a bit shaky from hiking and age (74). The result is a lot of culls. Typically 200 photos results in about 10 saved even if the camera settings were correct.
Photo processing is a big burden in time and energy and usually isn’t fun. The main cause of culling is noise or a slight blur, hard to judge before processing. The sync function in Lightroom really helps, where you process one in a series, sync those edits into the rest in the series, and then compare in Library mode to pick the one or two best in the series. No matter what, it is a chore.
I hope to buy a better lens that gathers more light and has better vibration compensation so I can feel confident of at least one good photo in a smaller series of photos than I take now.
BTW, a big difference from film is that if I hold the shutter release button down for just three seconds the camera will shoot 15 shots at my 5 fps setting. I keep it that fast to capture birds in flight. One good flight photo makes the day’s shoot and processing more than worth it…the transcendent and breathtaking beauty of a telephoto shot of a flying bird is usually not visible to us. Most days at least one photo reveals the angel that is every bird and insect. I look at all life with very different eyes now. As they say…”priceless!”
What a wonderful response and affirmation of the joy you take in your craft. Birds truly are difficult. Mazel tov. I can only suggest that you print (or have printed) your favorite images so others can see them.
I’ve always enjoyed photograpy ever since I was a teenager. I’m 60 now and still enjoy it. Controlling light with a camera always fascinated me. In the film days you really had to concentrate and know what you were doing and then hope that you’re final product was what you had in mind. Now with the amazing advances of digital cameras, the possibilities are endless. I enjoy the process more since you can get a glimpse of what will be your final image will turn out to be. These advances have made me take more chances with experimentation. Adding to that factor is that if you know how to use post processing software, I find that for me the satisfaction is greater. In many ways Photography has had a soothing and calming effect on me and as long as I can have my camera, I’ll be happy.