What is it that you need from photography? Here’s an interesting psychological tidbit: When you are going through tough times in relationships with others, therapists will often tell you that all relationships must offer something of value to everyone involved. This could be emotional needs met, good laughs shared, discussions that you value, or something else.
The same thing is true of our creative pursuits. In order for us to keep pursuing them, they must offer us something of value. None of us would continue to robotically create photographs for no reason, which means there are reasons behind it all—and I think it’s important to identify them.
So, what do you need from photography? There can be so many answers—good, bad, and neutral. Validation is something we all need and something that can be gained from photography. It’s also something that can be good in small doses, or bad when we take validation seeking to extremes.
But there can be other reasons besides this. Some produce photography for money. Everyone needs an income, and there is nothing wrong with this. Often, photography businesses start as a passion that turns into something more.
Some use photography as a creative outlet because they need something to channel a surplus of creative energy into. Others create photographs for educational purposes because the act of studying and photographing a subject is synonymous with learning about it in order to photograph it effectively.
Some—maybe even most of us—harbor a pure fascination for the science behind painting with light. Think how much time we spend studying light: It’s types like sunlight or various artificial lighting types, all of the warm and cool shades it comes in, the ways in which we can position it to create shadows and highlights here or there. All of this engraves itself upon our sensors to create something beautiful.
The point is, there are lots of things that each of us can get from photography—and none of these things are mutually exclusive. Most, if not all of us, will get more than one benefit here.
And to my mind, it’s critical to learn exactly what it is that we get from photography. When we have this information, then we can move in a more deliberate fashion. If you’re fascinated by the idea of painting with light, well—maybe that investment in a lighting system isn’t so infeasible after all. Or if you take deep satisfaction in the study of colors, then perhaps it’s time to shelve black and white photography for a while and focus on colorful abstracts.
At the end of the day, learning what you get from photography can help clarify what it is that you’re doing—and what you want to do. Why not pursue the parts of it that best fulfill your needs, whatever those needs may be? Doing so is a self-rewarding path, one that will ensure that you remain satisfied with your art and the work that you do no matter what shape it takes.
Now go and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens.