The Importance of Questions

“What is the purpose of my photography, of my taking pictures?” What I am trying to capture in the picture is… I’m trying to sum up a personality as much as it is humanly possible. I know it is like the [mathematical constant] “pi.” You never get the complete and final answer, but you can come as close to it as possible. – Philippe Halsman

I my last blog post, I’m a Photographer…Now What?, I posed the following questions to help define who you are as a photographer:

Here are the questions to ask yourself:

  • What makes you unique?
  • How would you describe your style?
  • What is your philosophy surrounding your work?
  • How would you answer this request that an editor once asked of me:  “Send me 10 photographs that show the depth and breadth of your work”.  That was a tough one, as I’m super-critical of myself.
  • Who do you want to see your photographs?

Here’s a fun little game I play to give me some more questions to ponder.  I have to confess that I don’t necessarily have all the answers either, but it helps me define my style/plan when I think about them.

Here we go:

A magic genie has appeared and granted your wish – you’re now a working full-time photographer.  Congratulations.  Now ask yourself (and be very specific):

  • What would you be photographing? (hint:  If your answer is “travel around the world and take photos, that’s not specific enough.   Photographing sights?  Getty already has millions of photographs of sights.  What will make your photographs/subjects different?)
  • What would a typical day look like? (don’t romanticize this – throw in some cranky magazine editors/gallery owners/clients)
  • Where would your work be shown?
  • How will you continue to grow?
  • How will you make money to keep this lifestyle going?
  • How will you make people aware of your photographs?


Okay, you’ve upset the genie by not knowing the answer to all these already, so he returns you to where you are now.  Bummer.

The road ahead can seem overwhelming (see my post about the danger of looking ahead), so let’s break it down into easier chunks:

  • What will you shoot this month that will show your unique style? (or at least experiment to help find your style)
  • If you had to choose one thing this month to improve your skills, what will it be?  Do it.


Let’s start with that.

And remember – NONE of this happens if you don’t get out there and make photographs.  Nothing.  Nada.  Your dream will not come true if you don’t take photos.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky.




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