Why Take Photos
I thought about whether or not I wanted to title this article “Why Take Photos” or “Who Do You Take Photos.” Either way, the answer might change based on how long you’ve been taking pictures. In the beginning of my journey as a photographer, I think I would have answered differently than I would now. But, the key is to make sure the reason begins and ends with you.
How I began Taking Photos
In the beginning of my journey as a photographer, I enjoyed capturing moments that came up organically. I might capture a picture of a grandfather and grandson, eating ice cream together, while leaning against a fence post. Or, I would photograph a child, excitedly swinging on a tire swing. Even more importantly, I would always have my camera with me, especially at family events.
As the years went by, I started to crave more. I thought better gear and a different subject might make me want to take more pictures. I really leaned into the idea that my pictures weren’t as good as they had been because my gear just wasn’t good enough to produce the kind of photos “the pros” take. So began a several year trek to acquire the right gear to make my photos better.
In case you already guessed it, better gear was costly and overall, it didn’t significantly change the quality of my photos. In fact, the more I watched videos and the more I considered my gear inept (and myself), the more my photos suffered. This isn’t to say that gear isn’t necessary to take good quality photos, it’s just not the be-all-end-all.
Taking Photos for Whom?
After some time passed, I joined a photography club. This was a new adventure for me. It opened up opportunities for me to take photos of subjects I never would have otherwise. Two of these subjects include splash and toy photography. Without the incentive to take these shots, I would not have gotten two of the best shots I have ever taken. But, over time, I desired to take more and more shots that impressed the judges and indirectly, members of the club. During our meetings, I remember hearing about member complaints when the judges did not score someone’s photo in a way they felt was desirable. I remember thinking to myself, “That’s how I used to think. Now, I take photos for myself. If I like them, that’s all that matters.” These are the sentiments club members would share with the ones who were distraught over the comments and score judges would give them on their photos. They would take it personally. The truth is, I was still taking pictures to impress the judges, even though I wouldn’t get as bent out of shape over not placing in the competition.
Why Do You Take Photos?
That leads me back to this question: Why do you take photos?” It’s okay if the answer to this question changes over time, or morphs throughout your journey as a photographer. But, I will venture to say, if you take pictures for others, it will eventually leave you frustrated and lacking motivation when you hit a rough patch. Inevitably, we all hit one at some point, or several points, as we continually try new things. Now, it seems trite to say, “take photos for yourself and not others,” so let me leave you with a few pieces of advice to help you.
Planning to Have no Plan
While it’s important to have a plan when you go out to shoot, sometimes planning can also get in the way of the creativity we as photographers need to produce photos that are different. I suggest planning trips that have no plan at all. Bring a few lenses with you for different scenarios that might come up: a wide-angle lens, a zoom lens like 70-200, and maybe a long-range lens like 300mm or longer. I suggest this so that you are prepared for different situations that might come up, like wildlife or a beautiful landscape or even some interesting people, walking around a major city. There have been times when I have gone out to specifically take photos of birds in flight, only to come home to find that my photos didn’t come out so well, or in some instances, there weren’t any birds available to photograph. I wasn’t prepared with a backup plan, so I came home empty-handed. While I think going out with no plan at all, from time to time, can help spark creativity, I believe going out with a backup plan can also help the frustration of coming home with not much to show for the hours of work you did that day. If I planned to take photos of birds and I didn’t have much success with that, I will make sure I have the address of a location nearby where I can photograph another subject that I know I will be successful in capturing. This subject might be landscapes or even architecture. These subjects are much more predictable and I am way more likely to nail a shot. Having no plan doesn’t mean you’re lacking preparation, it just means you’re open to taking photos of what is available around you, this way you will return feeling successful after a long day of work.
How SlickPic Can Help
Once you find a location you like to shoot at and you decide you want to return, or maybe you don’t like a location for a certain reason, SlickPic provides a notepad for your photo albums. You can type notes to remember something you want to tell a client or notes for your own remembrance. Maybe you want to describe the story behind the photo that day; you can use the notepad to keep track of it. For example, the day I took my first shot of an osprey has a great story attached. I was heading over to take a picture of a seagull (which I wasn’t excited about), the only bird present on the beach, when all of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something splat into the ocean to the right of me. It took me a second to figure out what had just happened, but once I realized it was an osprey who had just swooped down to spear a fish, I lifted my camera to the sky and began spraying (clicking and panning). I love the story behind this photo because it reminds me that great photos aren’t always planned, they are a result of getting out there and doing. SlickPic’s notepad will help remind me of this very important lesson. Thank you, SlickPic!
About the Author: Melissa Bilotta
Photographer- Teacher- Melissa has taught elementary school for over 12 years. Her interest in photography began around high school, but really became her passion in more recent years. She has been photographing mostly landscapes, wildlife, and portraits, as a hobby, for the last 10 years. As a teacher, she continues to learn her craft so she can grow and help others pursue their photography goals.