I’ve been making photographs for most of my life. It’s second nature to me. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. But it’s hard to put into words what that love of photography is all about. I am going to try.
1. I love that photography is capable of moving people. I sat and watched hundreds of people cry during one of Stacy Pearsall’s amazing slide shows. (Get her book Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera if you want to see what I mean.)
The fact that her images caused such an emotional reaction in people was a great reminder to me that photography is a powerful force in the universe.
2. I love that photography captures just one moment in time. With the growth of video and its intrusion into our daily lives in the form of TV, movies, YouTube, and even smart phone videos, the notion that you can watch a video of a sporting event for instance, but miss the incredible look of determination on an athlete’s face means we sill need a way of capturing a SINGLE moment. That’s what photography does that videography does not.
Each slice of our lives is available for memory protection thanks to photography. That’s pretty amazing.
3. Speaking of memory protection, I love the fact that my visits to some of the most beautiful places in the world are documented twice. Once in my mind using what my pal Skip Cohen calls Neurochromes and once by my camera. When strangers ask me what I do for a living I often say “I am in the memory protection business.” This mostly inspires one of those “What the heck?” expressions that leads to a conversation and often a sale.
Since most of you are much younger than me I can’t stress enough how important this is. When you get older, your memories will become more precious than you realize. You tend to live in your mind after a certain point in your life. And the pictures you make today can be touchstones for the memories you will crave and enjoy later.
4. I love that photography can level the playing field. Photography isn’t one of those things that is limited to one race, culture or creed. If you can make arresting, visually stunning, thoughtful, emotion-evoking, story-telling photographs, I don’t care if you’re pretty, ugly, old, young, fat, skinny, tall, short, red, green, yellow, blue, black, white, etc. I don’t care what religion you are, where you were born or where you live now. I don’t care what socio-economic class you come from. I don’t care how much or how little education you have. All I care about is the picture. If you made a great one, great things can happen because of it, no matter who you are, or (as in my case) in spite of who you are :)
5. I love that photography has a way of bringing people together. In the old days, we went to galleries and museums or read books, newspapers and magazines if we wanted to see photos. Now there are hundreds, thousands even millions of online sites devoted to building photographic communities. The power to pull people together around one common interest is something to behold, protect and promote.
Photography has many amazing qualities. I’ve only mentioned a few. It’s a great gift that has caused me to have a much better life than I predicted or felt I deserved. It can do that for you too.
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