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What is the point of photography?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by TonyTurley, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. TonyTurley

    TonyTurley TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Apr 24, 2013
    West Virginia, USA
    Taking photos has always fascinated me in some way, back to the film days. Except for our children and a few family moments, I've never been a people photographer. I was always taking photos of other things that interested me - model airplanes, sunsets, flowers and leaves, etc. My attempts at portrait photography have been mediocre at best. Every now and then, I have taken a photo that just popped, for lack of a better term. Some of those I have had professionally printed and framed for our house or as gifts, and a couple are hanging in my office at work. I also have thousands of other photos that are stored on various drives, and a small percentage make it to a photo forum or social media.

    Lately, I have been having a lingering dissatisfaction with my photo work, and have asked myself many times "What is the point of photography?". I have passed on several opportunities to go out and photo some really killer sunsets/sunrises, with the thought "does the world really need another cliche sunset/sunrise photo?" I've just been feeling really uninspired, and even the satisfaction I've gotten from sneaking up on birds to get close-up photos has been fleeting. Truthfully, I've considered putting all my photo equipment up for sale. Personally, I think the world would never notice if I quit taking photos. The only thing that has stopped me from doing that is a vague notion that I might regret it. Thoughts? Anyone else ever go through this?

    Tony
     
  2. Armanius

    Armanius TalkEmount Regular

    188
    Aug 8, 2011
    Houston Texas USA
    For me, photography is to capture an image that I want to remember. Most of the world will never see my photos.

    I have definitely gone through stages in which I didn't pick up a camera. And that's okay. Eventually something comes up which makes me want to pick up the camera again.
     
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  3. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sure. Absolutely, I've felt that. It regularly happens in times when I feel like I'm constrained by my abilities or opportunities.

    There's nothing wrong with feeling like you need a break, but maybe just make it that: a break. Or perhaps try something new that you have done before.
     
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  4. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Regularly. :D

    Sometimes the magic's just not there. And when that happens to me, I have found it best not to force it. Picking up the camera to try to make myself find something worth shooting only leads to more dissatisfaction with photography in general, and whatever crap I come home with in particular. So for me, it's best to just do something else for as long as the funk lasts.

    Or buy a new lens. That always helps! :laugh1:
     
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  5. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    José
    I go through phases.
    I usually find a new subject type spurs a new interesting time.

    At the moment I'm enjoying photographing people. 3 months ago it was all about nighttime/star trails.

    There are so many options within the photography realm, maybe branch outside of what you have done in the past?
     
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  6. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    Very recognizeable, I've often asked myself the very same question. When scanning my old slides the other day I came to realize that the pictures of my family were the most valuable to me; a lot of other stuff just didn't seem to have a real meaning except for making me remember what I was doing at the time. As an amateur, and I believe you're one as well, I think it's not very important to have a solid answer to the question. If you don't feel like taking pictures, well then don't. Who cares? Possible exception is making family pictures of anything that might be interesting 30 years later.

    I'd be a bit cautious in selling photo gear. More often than not I've spent years without paying attention to a hobby such as photography only to pick it up again at an unpredictable point in time. Recently I picked up another hobby, model railroading, and that provided another impetus to photography, if only to report my progress on the Dutch 3-rail forum. Because these days, what would a hobby be without a forum? :D
     
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  7. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    I think "the bloom fades off the rose" in many undertakings, for most people, over time. For me, looking back over my lifetime of any new different sport, project, hobby...the reason seems to be that my main enjoyment / satisfaction comes from the journey itself...not the arrival at a final point...climbing the learning curve, going through lots of discovery, etc, is usually the reward / satisfaction to me.

    Once I start hitting plateaus where the learning / discovery starts to flatten out, the "been there, done that" starts to creep in and the degree of satisfaction starts to fade...a recent example in photography is the March 16th Sunset at a local lake...everything came together for me at that sunset shoot...to me it was a spectacular light show on the clouds and lake water, a local TV station aired it, etc, etc...such that I've already passed on a couple of promising days at the lake for sunsets this week because of the notion "OK, been there, done that"...suspect I certainly will go after some more but at the moment there's not as much of a driving force to do so.

    So yes, others experience those feelings as well...suggest you not sell your gear, and as others have said, maybe take a new angle in 2015...for example, buy a good 100 or 200mm Macro lens and dive into the macro world...spring colors coming now...flowers, butterflies, mushrooms, etc, etc, will be everywhere for the next few months.
    Or, just take a break until the fall or something and see how things play out.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
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  8. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    712
    Feb 17, 2015
    Felt that way many a times. Lately I've been forcing myself to take my camera with me wherever I go (isn't that what REAL photographers do?). If I don't I invariably see something that I wish I could get a picture of. Funny how that happens, but only to me.
    A change in equipment is usually the cure for me, so I've been slapping a different lens on the Nex each time I get a little bored.
    I'm not one of those who likes to do a lot of PP to my images as I feel I need to try to get the best SOOC shot I can to record the moment. And that is how I see photography, as the recording of a moment in time, without any funny business being done to the output of the camera. I do a lot of car photos and there's a saying about cars, pictures lie. Well, I try to make sure my pictures don't lie, but that's just the way I am.
    Good luck getting out of your funk. I need to go take my morning Amaryllis picture now. =;>)
     
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  9. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    LOL...you're not alone...I learned long ago one of the best ways to miss golden shot opportunities is not having a camera with me. As a result I keep a monopod and tripod in the vehicle, and routinely take an NEX-7 with a Canon FDn 80-200L Macro mounted, and an FDn 24-35L in a pouch.
    And conversely, that way I'm also assured I'll rarely ever see anything worth shooting.
    :)
     
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  10. TonyTurley

    TonyTurley TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Apr 24, 2013
    West Virginia, USA
    Thanks for all the replies, folks. I am an amateur, like most here. I'm hoping the old adage of "This, too, shall pass." applies here.

    TT
     
  11. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    One more thing, Tony. It's times like this when I try to remember these words of wisdom from Kurt Vonnegut: "I tell you, we are here on earth to fart around, and don't let anyone tell you any different!"
     
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  12. Armanius

    Armanius TalkEmount Regular

    188
    Aug 8, 2011
    Houston Texas USA
    Like Woodworks said above, buying new gear always helps!!!
     
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  13. HabsFan

    HabsFan TalkEmount Veteran

    258
    Apr 10, 2013
    Ontario, CAN
    I find I don't use my camera as often as I normally would but probably for different reasons. I don't have the time to go out and shoot. Having a busy 3 year old and a 10 month old really limits my time for photo opps. Most of mine are around the house. They make for great memories and documenting life but getting out and shooting landscapes and such almost never happens for me these days. There are only so many pictures I can take of the woodlot and river that is 5 minutes from my house
     
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  14. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Totally agree and understand...was the same way until I retired and now its just a fantastic hobby with all this time on my hands.
    ( PS: but don't rush it...remember, there's a down side to getting so old you can retire ! )
     
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  15. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    712
    Feb 17, 2015
    I wish I had more pictures of my kids when they were little ones. We couldn't afford the cost of film/developing though as other priorities for that kind of money were abundant. You have the power of digital HabsFan, use it.
     
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  16. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    349
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    Trying to be a good photographer for all occasions often leads to lots of bad photos of many subjects. My advice, concentrate on improving your skills on the type of photography that you like the most: read books about the great photographers past and present that you admire; take a workshop; plan and devise a specific photo project for yourself. For example, try to use just one lens and one camera for one year with a very specific subject, see what you get from that.
     
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  17. HabsFan

    HabsFan TalkEmount Veteran

    258
    Apr 10, 2013
    Ontario, CAN
    Yeah, I know...and that is what it is used for mostly.
     
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  18. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    As someone who worked in landscaping in the summer months years ago (10?), I'd say this quote is insightful. Particularly because rose bushes, with regular pruning can stay in a nearly constant state of bloom through the summer, but it takes great diligence and commitment to keep them going. The bloom fades, yes, but with the sufficient skill, practice, and effort, a new bloom will takes its place.
     
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  19. WT21

    WT21 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    610
    Aug 7, 2011
    Yup. Been there. I also realized all these photos of family I take -- almost no one ever sees them, so I have pared back. One thing I do now is events for certain organizations I'm involved with. Then the organizations use them for websites and newsletters. I don't charge anything. It just gives me a reason to shoot (and buy gear).

    Yes, the world would never miss your sunset photo (nor mine!) but sites like this are fun to post on, and the pleasure you get yourself of getting that good capture, makes it a hobby (would the world miss that puzzle someone built, or that ship in a bottle, or that level 16 reached on that xbox game?)

    If you are burned out, take a break. Nothing wrong with that. Do some community volunteering (maybe you do already -- in which case, get more involved). Then you might find reasons to pick up your camera again :)
     
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  20. TonyTurley

    TonyTurley TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Apr 24, 2013
    West Virginia, USA
    Good point. Thanks for the insightful post.