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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Why Bother?

Here I was drawn in by the color combination of the  row of yellow chairs and the blue of the sky.




I have passed this church many times. First time I bothered to photograph it.

Lately while I’m out taking photos I often wonder how many people have stood in the same place and have taken the exact same picture. Certainly, I have had this thought before, mostly while viewing those "photo spot" signs at tourist locations. But lately I find myself thinking that thought every time I’m photographing at any public place or event. Everyone is a photographer nowadays and with camera phones being so inexpensive and prevalent these days. I see more people than ever before taking photos. Sure, probably a good number of those photos are not good ones, but they are being taken, And with technology and automation improving, many novice photographers are shooting photos that could have just as easily been shot by a pro. And with those thoughts I often find myself thinking "why bother?"

This year I have been spending a lot of time thinking about that and struggling to reignite my passion for my art. I frequently leave my camera at home these days and even when I do make the effort to bring it, I seldom take it out of the bag. I’m not sure what has caused this recent loss of passion, although I suspect it may have something to do with being "middle aged", a period of life even more volatile than puberty. It’s a time when many take stock of their life and reevaluate things. So I find myself questioning my passion of photography and all the time and money I have invested into it over the years. Combine those thoughts with the reality that photography is at a low point value wise (a decrease in paid opportunities and a substantial increase in talented photographers that want those jobs) and it is no surprise that a "why bother" attitude has presented itself.

So here I sit on the first full day of a trip to New York City writing this blog post and questioning what my efforts have all been for. I have been down on photography for the past few months and have been struggling with trying to regain my passion for something that I have loved all my life.

Usually for my New York trips I’ll bring my basic camera and lens (14-45mm) along with some extra
Another image from St. Anthony of Padua Church.
batteries, cards, charger, pluas and extra lens or two (40-150mm, Lensbaby) and sometimes my macro tube and a few filters. Frequently I would find myself using only the basic lens as I hate messing about with lenses on crowded NYC streets. So for this trip, I nixed the extra gear and just brought a most basic kit of 1 camera body, the 14-45mm lens, batteries, cards, and a charger and that was it.


While out photographing today, those "why bother" thoughts crept into my brain. I wondered how many photographers have shot the very same photos. I found myself punking out early and just going back to home base to take a nap. That is unacceptable and needs to change. And soon. I must find a way to regain my lost passion on this trip before it's time to go home.***

So of course the first thought I have is "why didn’t I bring those extra lenses?" At the last minute before leaving, I almost did. But you know what? I don’t need them. You don’t either. We all have what we need to create with us at all times: our creative minds. Sure, creativity takes a nap from time to time. That’s when it’s time to set the alarm and wake it up!

So why bother? Well, no matter how many times a subject has been photographed, your photo is yours. You took it, you own the rights to it. Feel free to print it, post it, sell it (if you can), or just simply archive it. No matter how many times a subject is photographed, a true artist will always add their personal style and vision to the image. It doesn’t matter how simple and basic the equipment used to capture the image is, you can still capture something special if you put a little extra effort into it. I think the recent I-Phone ads really drive that point home. All those images were captured by pros with no use of gimmicks, just a good eye for composition and a solid knowledge of exposure. Many of those images have blown me away with their beauty. In addition, I also know of several pro photographers that often use their phones for their personal work and are consistently creating high quality images that any DSLR users would be proud to put their name on.

Truthfully as down on my craft that I am at the moment, I do not regret any of the time and money that I have spent on it. I truly enjoy my photography and the resulting images for my efforts. I use my photos to decorate my home, use them for vanity book editions, print a calendar for myself every year, share them (low res) online, submit them for publication in magazines and books, and even sell the occasional print. That’s why I bother, and so should you.

So here I am, still sitting and writing. But now I’m getting excited for tomorrow’s adventures. I will go out and use my unique vision to seek out interesting subjects and photograph them my way and not worry about how many others stood there before me with a camera. Maybe I’ll use the "gimmicks" that are available to me, such as my camera’s art filters, double exposures or shoot in black and white. Or maybe I won’t. But either way, I’ll capture images that are meaningful to me and hopefully that will cure my "why bother" attitude and regain some passion.
A beautiful Mandevilla flower.

And if you have been going though the same phase that I have, perhaps this post has helped to inspire you to bother. If it has, please feel free to let me know and if you have some tips to overcome those "why bother" moments, please feel free to share. Enjoy your photography!


***
When I wrote this post, I wrote it on the road before reviewing the photos that I had shot that day. Those "why bother" thoughts were rolling around in m head, but somehow I still managed to take some shots that impressed me when I got home and had a proper chance to review and edit them. I have illustrated this post with some of those photos.


I ended up getting ill on my trip and had to cut it short. But not until after one more full day of shooting.





Part of my "Building Blocks" series of images. 


And see my previous post "Loss Of Passion" to read some of the tips that I used to help reignite my own passion again.



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