In the "What MY Photography Costs ME (By Mike)" post the other day, I concluded that whatever "is best for your work is best for you."
But really, even that is a bit moralistic. Work—pictures—is just what's most important to me.
It doesn't have to be for everyone. However anyone wants to have fun with photography is fine so long as they're not hurting anybody.
People do a whole lot of things within photography. Some people collect equipment, old or new. Some people like to chat (or argue) on forums. Some people are into surfing Flickr. Some people like to hire and photograph nude models. Some people like to have a function—a job to do, a role—at family gatherings and sporting and school events. Some people like an excuse to go hiking. Some people like to collect old postcards. Some people like to test lenses. Some are into toy cameras, or night photography, or photograms. And so on. Me, I like to write about it. There's a minority interest.
And I take pictures when I can. Like most of us.
Most of us like to do some subset of all the fun things you can do in, and with, photography. So who's to say what's right and wrong?
Suit yourself, and don't judge others.
I try to encourage people to be clear about their desires, intentions, and goals, and not feel guilty or insecure or ashamed of whatever it is they enjoy. Who says it's not valid to master the arcana of antique Exaktas, or test RAW converters, or photograph churches? Who else knows better what gives you pleasure within the hobby?
I'm interested in people who are interested in their work, and I enjoy helping enable those people if I can. And I'm always hoping to help someone else to share some part of the great pleasure I myself get from photographs. But it's okay with me if someone else cares about something else.
• • •
A little story. Years ago, I taught a Photo 101/102/103 sequence at a community college. I loved it. I had people of all ages in my class, from many walks of life, both sexes, etc. One was a youngish lawyer (older than me at the time), always snappily dressed, skeptical, acerbic, whose hand would shoot up to challenge me about the details whenever I made a technical or factual claim. (I ended up persuading him that I knew my sh*t, which was cool.) He was clearly interested in mastering the mechanics and techniques of photography, as it existed then, in such a way that his mechanics and techniques and equipment would be the best.
And then there was an elderly, white-haired lady who one week actually (cliché incoming!) brought in home-baked cookies for the whole class. She was just the nicest lady—she fairly beamed grandmotherly approval at me from her seat no matter what I was saying. Even though, by her own admission, she understood about one-twelfth of everything I said. Her ambition? To learn how to work the controls on her camera so that she could take pictures of her grandchildren.
Finally, there was a young guy who was all washed-out colors—pale, washed-out skin, hair, eyes, clothing, affect. He was in his early to mid twenties but clearly a teenager in mind and heart, and committed to that. When I laughed at his Butthole Surfers T-shirt (I'd never heard of the band before), he gave me an intense, half-vacant stare: "Why are you laughing? It's their name, man," he said, as if that solved everything. Photographic ambition: totally opaque. None discernible. Worked just hard enough to earn a pale, washed-out C.
Lesson the teacher learned from the class: everyone's different. Deal with the person who's in front of you and meet them wherever they are.
• • •
However anyone wants to have fun with photography, power to 'em. Be clear, and go forth, and be as happy with what you're doing as you can be.
Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
A book of interest today:
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Featured Comments from:
darr: "What's the story behind Bedroom c. 1907?"
Mike replies: The proximate explanation is that I was getting tired of posts without pictures, and I couldn't clear a photo of the Butthole Surfers. Otherwise it has no purpose in the post except to add a touch of color.
There is one little story I can tell about that room, though. See that light fixture on the ceiling? The construction of the house was begun in 1907 and finished in 1912, and the area it's in was much more rural and remote back then than it is now. (The lumber for the house was dragged across the lake by horse-drawn sledge during the winter, and building commenced in the spring.) The lighting was installed in about 1915. It was not the first, but one of the first houses in the area to have electricity.
My grandmother told me that when she was young (she would have been 14 in 1915), the local children would come over to see that light. It wasn't that they had never seen electric lights before—some of them had—but none of them had ever seen an electric light with the switch on the wall, way over by the door—pushbuttons, that operate with firm resistance and a crisp snap. That's what was wondrous to them. She said little kids came from all around to venture timidly into the house via the back door, then stand there taking turns switching that light off and on over and over again.
Recalls Clarke's Third Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."