Look at the things around you, the immediate world around
you. If you are alive, it will mean something to you, and if you care enough
about photography, and if you know how to use it, you will want to photograph
that meaningness. If you let other people’s vision get between the world and
your own, you will achieve that extremely common and worthless thing, a
pictorial photograph. – Paul Strand
Thanks to technological advances, many more people can take beautiful photographs more often than in times past. More beauty in the world is good, but when you add passion to the mix, you can create lasting art.
If you look at the Masters of photography, the photography isn’t the end. It’s a means of expressing their passion for a subject. For Clyde Butcher it’s his passion for the unique environment of the Everglades. For James Nachtwey, it’s his passion for the underprivileged and the unjust that is conveyed through his photography. For Sally Mann it’s the passion of exploring the impermanence of life. I could go on and on.
Your passion may be for your family, your partner, the night sky, the human form, the ocean or an infinite number of things – photography is a tool for you to convey that passion.
It’s when you lose sight of that and get caught up in the tools that your photography can become shallow and ordinary. Here’s an exercise: If photography didn’t exist at all, what would you care about? What would make you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
Photography in and of itself isn’t enough. It’s about your passion for life, the emotions you feel, your perspective, the values inside of you – that’s the important stuff, the stuff that’s unique to you. When you tap into that, there’s absolutely no chance that you’ll be making photos that look like anyone else’s because it will be unique to you.