It’s kind of hard to explain what I like about photography. Of course I understand my own reasoning just fine, but how do I communicate it to you, dear reader?
I love photography because it is “real.” That means every image captured was a real person, place, or thing that once existed or currently exists. Paintings are beautiful and everything, but they exist only in the mind of the artist. They often do not exist in reality, you couldn’t just go visit the spot where the painting was done and see the same thing for yourself. There are so many details in photography that are just impossible to illustrate with the stroke of a brush or pencil.
Photography is an excellent tool for the preservation of knowledge. It gives us a view to the past like nothing else can. We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. You can read about what it was like to go to war all day long, but a series of photos illustrates the concept much more clearly. The landscape, the expressions on people’s faces, and the things you just have to see to believe all work together to show the hardships and tragedies of war.
There are a thousand different directions you can go with photography. At night, underwater, landscapes, portraits, panoramas, studio, macro, wedding, HDR, digital, film, cities, transportation, street photography, and so many, many more. Things like high-speed cameras and infrared photography help us see things that our own eyes cannot see; they help us to learn about and understand the amazing world we live in.
It’s easy to press the shutter with your camera on full automatic settings and take a picture. That picture serves as proof of what was happening at that time, it has captured the action. But the artistic value in photography lies in the fact that camera settings can be changed. By using a longer exposure, the photographer can let more light in, creating a “warmer” image. Now the image is one of emotion.
It could be a night at the fair, a fireworks show, or a concert, but those memorable nights are preserved both in action and in emotion by the admittedly blurry shots I’ve got tucked away. Perhaps I was having too much fun that night to care about steadying the camera. There is just as much information in what you don’t see as there is in what you do see.
It’s entirely up to the photographer how to frame the shot and present it to the world. The use of a wide angle lens to illustrate size, a macro lens to illustrate detail, a zoom lens to illustrate distance can dramatically change a shot. There are so many filters, lenses, camera bodies and techniques out there that a person could easily spend a lifetime just getting acquainted with things.
Photography presents such a great challenge: to take on a world full of equipment and a world full of subjects, and see what you can come up with. There are no rules, no right and wrong. There is only good, and the pursuit of better.