What does photography GIVE you?

Photography truly is one of the biggest mixes of frustration and blessings I’ve ever received in the nearly 40 years I’ve walked this earth. While the gifts it continues to give are numerous, there really is one thing that I consider the most generous gift of all. Let’s get a little selfish with our photography, shall we?

The personal benefits of photography are plentiful

I don’t want you to think this is just another “endless optimism” , everything is great, inspirational post. Yes, those are all over the internet and many of my musings here may fall into that category in some people’s eyes. It’s not something I think about or try to do intentionally. This Journal is a place for me to share my honest thoughts about photography, art, and the creative process. In other words, it’s the thoughts and ideas that rattle around my head about struggles, inspirations, irritations, and passion.

Occasionally I think about how much photography has given me. I don’t want to spend a ton of time going into detail about all of them. Maybe I can pick those apart individually another time, but for now how about a quick list.

  • Made some great friends.
  • I get to meet and learn about some truly fascinating people.
  • Been able to use my photography to give others tangible memories that they can keep forever.
  • The ability to capture those same memories for my own family is a gift beyond compare.
  • It’s saved me a ton of money once I had kids! Hello, I don’t have to pay a studio to get good photos!
  • I’m continually amazed by the doors it opens and the opportunities it can present
  • I’ll stop this list now or it will get a mile long.
  • Seriously, you guys get the idea right?

The most valuable gift.

This world is a hectic place these days. We are bombarded constantly with STUFF!  From the constant use of electronics to the steady barrage of advertisements it’s exhausting. Stress levels are at all time highs. Most of us can’t remember what we had for breakfast an hour ago because we crammed in two days of work since then at a frenetic pace.

But when we can slow down. Man it feels good. In my mind it’s like I’m a super hero that can control time and slow it down to the point where the world is a blur around me, blasting out of control, but I’m standing still. Feeling the stress fade away while the chaos rages around me. Calmly strolling down the street while the people are nothing but a blur as they hustle here and there.

Those are the moments we are given the gift. It’s the ability to step outside the daily hustle and really just SEE the world around us.

Open your eyes and your mind.

I remember when I first realized that photography had given me this gift. I had shown some friends in a local camera group I was in some of the photos I had made while we were out on a photo walk one morning. They kept telling me how they didn’t know how they missed these scenes we had all just walked by. I couldn’t figure it out because these scenes and compositions had just jumped out at me.

I don’t have a special set of eyes. I’m no wizard and I’m not fabricating these scenes. It all boils down to one special gift that photography has given me. It’s the ability to slow down and really appreciate the world and environment around me. Noticing those small details that most just pass by. Appreciating the way the window light is coming into the house and reflecting off of a mirror to splash a tiny pocket of light into an otherwise dark corner.

Don’t waste the gift of seeing.

The most awesome part is that being able to really see and appreciate the things around us doesn’t only translate to one specific genre of photography. It’s not just a portrait thing or a landscapes thing. It’s a SEEING thing. Even better is the fact that once you realize you’ve been given this gift, you understand that it never goes away. It continues to get sharper and becomes more natural. You stop feeling like you have to struggle to find that good light or that interesting subject. Rather, it’s a matter of keeping your eyes and mind open to pick up that camera and be ready to capture whatever those little details are when you look around.

That’s really the toughest part about it, isn’t it? How often do we SEE something and think about how it would make a great photo. Maybe it’s some interesting light, interesting patterns, juxtapositions that are subtle and humorous. Whatever it is I know we’ve all had those thoughts only to pass right by without exploring it with our cameras. The more you spend time with your cameras, the more of this gift you receive.  But just because you can SEE the things around you doesn’t mean the gift is complete. In order to appreciate it you have to take time to hold up your end of the bargain and actually MAKE those photographs whenever possible.

How about just one cheesy yet true inspirational quote?

I find that so often a good quote can be so inspiring. It can give me something really tangible to chew on and mull over. It’s how I find myself thinking for days or weeks about these ideas before they finally make their way onto the pages of this Journal. This quote was the one that got me started thinking about this topic today.

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others” ~ Jonathan Swift

It was a comment on my last article, All that remains, by one of those great people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting via photography, Dominick Chiuchiolo, that spurred me to get writing. He left me this note.

“Great photo essay! I enjoyed reading it and your images as well. Thanks for taking the time to write it out! It’s amazing the things you can discover when you take the time to really look at the environment you are passing through. ????

Take care, Dominick”

His last statement about it being amazing the things you can discover is what kicked me in the rear and told me I needed finally write this. For that I thank you Dominick! Do me a favor will you guys, go check out Dominick’s work. He’s a fantastic photographer and really has that perfect spirit of just shooting the stuff your heart pulls you to shoot. I really think you’ll like his work.

While we are looking at work, how about a few from me as well!



Gear Notes

All photos were created with a Fuji X Series cameras and lenses.

Images all processed in Lightroom Classic with the Rebecca Lily Premium Color Grading Pro Set V system as my base for all of my custom processing.

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