This image below, “refine and reflect” is a personal favorite. For me, it sums up why I am a photographer. I sometimes ask myself why I put so much time and energy into this art. For some, photography is a career and a camera is a tool. For me, photography is purely a hobby. I don’t make money from photography. I often receive emails from people asking how they too can have a ‘career’ like mine. I feel bad when I have to tell them that I work as an air con mechanic full time and if I lived off photography I would have died a long time ago from starvation.
So why do I head out almost everyday before work with my camera, plan shoots months in advance, sacrifice hours of sleep, travel long distances, ruin clothes and equipment in sea water and spend countless hours dreaming of capturing images? I have pondered this question over the last week and I think I know the answer.
It is easy to fall into the trap of aggressively using social media platforms in pursuit of ‘internet fame’ and exposure. More likes and more followers. There are even websites where you can buy followers and pay for the numbers you are after. Don’t get me wrong, receiving a like on a picture is great and having exposure to an audience is nice, but if that’s what your photography is based on then I don’t think you’re building a firm foundation that is going to last.
For a long time I fell under the same spell. Caring more about social media than I was about photography itself. I began photography when I downloaded instagram and I was intrigued by the fact that a stranger actually ‘liked’ my image. How flattering. I want more! But soon, as I began to fall more in love with photography and nature, I come to realise that unless this is your job, then numbers are kinda pointless as far as photography itself is concerned. You can’t commit hours into this art purely for the sake of other people. If this is your hobby and you want to grow as a photographer, then photography has to be for yourself first and foremost. Now I want to clarify that I have nothing wrong with people marketing themselves and products via social media, I am purely talking from the point of view of a photographer wanting to grow and learn.
So I asked myself why do I do this? It’s clearly not to live off, I consciously decided not to pursue this as a career for several reasons. I know numbers next to my name in the grand scheme of things does not fulfill me as a human nor as a photographer. So why the camera? What is it to me?
This image is visually quite different to most of my pieces and will probably prove to be amongst the least ‘popular’ because its lack of over saturated sunset skies, but to me it sums up my photography. My reason for being a photographer.
In August 2013 I was traveling Canada with my wife Renee. I had dreamed of visiting Canada since I was a child and I truly never thought I would get there until I was an old man. One of the things that attracted me to this country was the beautiful evergreen trees and also the reflective lakes I had seen in many brochures and advertisements.
One morning driving from Banff to Jasper, we stopped by this small lake. By this stage I had captured many special images but none that summed up the vision I had of Canada. When I saw this lake I immediately saw my image of Canada. And that is the image I share today. A simple composition of lush trees reflected in a gentle, windswept lake.
I almost feel like I don’t have a choice but to love photography and be a photographer. It has allowed me to transfer my thoughts, visions and emotions into a piece of visual art. Far from this modern technological society, the best part of photography for me as a landscape photographer, is escaping this hi tech age and going back to nature, back to the basics. Searching myself and bringing thoughts and ideas to life. Yeah sure I am walking around with a hi-tech piece of equipment to capture these images, but really, the camera is only the final piece in this puzzle. I have seen so many new places and witnessed incredible sights because of my camera. I haven’t watched television in months and felt myself grow as a human being, mentally and spiritually. All of us need to get things off our chest, some people more than others. I feel this need. Photography is my medium, it is fun, it makes me take time to appreciate and observe the little things. This is why I do it. Photography is a gift I am grateful to have. WP