Why We Photograph

Gatelivet i Montepulciano går i et langsomt tempo

There is hardly anyone today that doesn’t take photos. Modern cell phones, if nothing else, has opened up for almost the whole world to be able to capture important moments in each and everyone’s lives. Even when I travel to developing countries I see an abundance of cell phones and I see people of all social strata taking pictures. Of course there are still many, many people that cannot afford a cell phone let alone a camera, but never before has so many pictures been taken every moment of a day as today. As I wrote in my post Too Much of Nothing, we snap as many pictures today, every two minutes, as were taken in the entire 19th century, another boom time for photography.

I would think most people take photos as a means for storing memories. For them it’s just fun to have pictures from the last family gathering or the latest holiday to Paris. They do not intend much else with their photography. They hardly call themselves photographers or think of what they do as photography. For anyone a little more serious about their photography, their motivation for photographing is most likely somewhat more developed. Maybe they don’t see themselves as artists, but they definitely regard photography as something more than a commodity for gathering memories. Most likely photography is something they like doing for its own gratification. And most likely they invest time and money into what they regard, if nothing else, as a hobby. I also believe that most of these photographers, at whatever level they regard themselves to be, have some kind of thoughts about wanting their images to be able to say something to others one way or another – beyond sharing memories.

We all have different reasons for why we take photos. But all too often I find that we are not really aware of the why. And why should we? Isn’t it good enough to want to enjoy taking photographs, whether we are amateurs or professionals? Why do we have to philosophize in pieces the joy of photographing?

Of course I don’t mean that. But if we want to be able to touch others with our images or say something more profoundly beyond simple, nice graphics, we need to understand why we photograph. If we know, we will also better be able to find subjects and find ways to convey what is important with the images we take. I have many times written and talked about the necessity of having a vision or intent behind our imagery. But if you don’t understand why you take photos in the first place, how can you then be able to make or take images that will mean something to anyone else, whether it’s touching them emotionally or whether the content is moving them or whatever else may have an impact on them?

I photograph because I love to get in touch with people who live a life differently than I do. I photograph because I am curios and use photography to understand and learn about others’ lives. And I photograph because I find stories of people from all around that I think it’s important to share and let others know about, whether it’s about people struggling to survive or whether it’s persons who can be a model and an inspiration for the rest of us. I photograph wanting to have an impact with my images, although I know in the grander scale of things, nothing much will change. This philosophy if you will, of mine determines what I photograph and how I photograph it. It’s the foundation my photography is built on. In addition I do photograph because I love the photographic process itself – that goes almost without saying – but it wouldn’t have been enough in itself to be able to create engaging images. By asking why we photograph, we learn more about ourselves, and we can bring more of ourselves into the shooting process. I dare say that my life is reflected in my photography – and my photography is reflected in my life. It’s sometimes really hard to separate the two.

Have you asked yourself the question? Why do I photograph?

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About Otto von Münchow

Photographer based in Norway
This entry was posted in Challenging Yourself, Creativity, Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

166 Responses to Why We Photograph

  1. michaelcboxall says:

    For me it’s a chance to create something worth a second look, perhaps even something of beauty.

  2. Angeline M says:

    A good thought to ponder. And I sit here and ask myself this question. The best I can come up with in this new world of photography for me is that the beauty I see is too much to contain within. Sort of like why do writers write…they have something to say, that they must say. And sometimes you don’t know why.

  3. Since my eyes are seemingly my main thought-processing tool, I think in pictures of all sorts, and a camera is a way of preserving what I see *the way I see it*. That’s a rare gift. Having the images around to ponder and consider after the event, that’s a further gift: inspiration files. Another great and inspiring post, this, Otto! Thanks.

  4. Laura4NYC says:

    It’s an important question: Why do we photograph?
    Sometimes I wonder if I photograph too much and am therefore not capable of enjoying the moment by itself. Or if I am only able to re-live the moment when looking at photographs weeks or months later. And so many other senses are involved when remembering – sound and smell make out two crucial parts of the memory process.

    • For the person who has experience a moment, it is true that all senses are involved and adding to the memory. That is important for a photographer to be aware of, because the viewers of a picture have nothing but the visuals to stir their response. Thanks, Laura.

  5. i think of you often when i am taking photos, and i ponder, ‘what’s prompting this?’ – the top reason is capturing light and shadow, but there’s also a desire to capture a mood, either with the people i interact with or with nature…

    it’s raining, power’s off, and i’d best log off and save the battery!
    z

  6. lauramacky says:

    I love photography because I never got a chance to be in the outdoors much in previous years because my hobby was piano and my family wasn’t into the outdoors. Now I can’t seem to get enough of it and it’s like I’m seeing things with fresh eyes. The wonder of nature is astounding!

  7. Vicki says:

    Great post Otto.

    I make photos to bring the world around me into an image I can re-visit and enjoy, and as an extension of my creative vision I had as an artist in my youth. I like to share what I see as beautiful, interesting, unusual OR simply to create a pleasing image (now that I can’t see well enough to sketch or paint). I also like to encourage people to get outdoors more and appreciate what they have around them in nature.

    I like people to be more thoughtful and interested in their local surroundings. From a personal point of view, I enjoy seeing images of other cultures, countries and how different people live. These days I’m an armchair traveller (whereas I travelled overseas and interstate a lot when in my twenties when I had more income and good health).

    My photography hobby is also for health reasons, both Mind & Body. It helps get me outdoors in the fresh air and some exercise (to ease some of my chronic health symptoms). It stimulates my failing memory and intermittent brain fog. And with a chronic all over body nerve pain and heightened sense of chemical sensitivity, nature photography is a distraction and do-able. All I have to do is carry a little extra weight and push a shutter button, whereas I can’t do other hobbies (for various reasons). I find it enjoyable, rewarding and a good way to communicate, when I can’t necessarily socialise for more than a few hours. (I forget people’s names and often lose track of what people are saying halfway through a conversation).

    It’s also a good way to communicate with like-minded people (through the internet), whereas I might find a photography club hard to get to and overtaxing on my memory & walking ability, let alone financially unviable living on a frugal Disability Pension – I literally can’t afford to go out for ‘drinks’ or meet friends for coffee or lunch, or buy nice clothes or restaurants meals, theatre visits or holidays. (My photography gear purchases come out of a small ‘nest egg’ set aside after I had to take early retirement from my job 4 years ago. I spend on camera gear what other people might spend on haircuts and clothes).

    • redhairedgal says:

      Photography truly is a wonderful form of therapy, isn’t it?

    • Seems like photography is very important for on many levels. Vicki. I am sorry to hear that you have so much struggle in your life, but glad that photography can create space for your to enjoy. And you are creating some very nice images and I always enjoy visiting your blog. Thanks for sharing your experience, Vicki.

  8. Yes and my answer is because I have very few photos of my childhood and I wanted my daughter to have photos to remember her life in all times! Then I discovered sunsets and sunrises after my Pa passed way he left me all his photos and his camera. I searched each image trying to feel what he felt when he took them and from that I learned so much about his love for things he held dear! I love sunrises and sunsets because they remind me of him and his photos. Each time I stand there taking one I think of him! I love your photos they say a lot about you! I believe!! 😄

  9. To tell a story where words cannot……

  10. cyardin says:

    This is a cutting question, because it gets to the motive for why I enjoy one of my favourite hobbies. I have many answers to this question, but I think the key one is one that you pointed out in your post – photography as a medium of engagement. I don’t call my photos art, but I try to capture something that others will engage with (however fleeting that moment is). Even if that engagement is remote, and someone simply looks at my photograph. Great post Otto!

  11. I think this is an important question. There are layers to my answers. I take photos to document my family. Special events, new babies, older family members, and to capture the stories that I hope will one day mean something to the next generation. And then sometimes I just want to try to capture the beauty and interest around me. I’m not an artist, and don’t even think I have an artist’s eye, but I know what pleases me. And that’s enough. I always hope to improve the quality of what I capture. Thank you for always providing a quality challenge, Otto.

    • I think most of us have layers of of reasons for photographic. Like we all do document our family, but after that the reasons divert into all kinds of reasons. Thanks for taking the challenge, Debra, it’s always interesting to read what you have to say.

  12. Dalo 2013 says:

    Very good question Otto. It seems strange to say I photograph in order to see & experience the environment at a much deeper level…but it is true. I want to try to get at the heart of whatever it is I am shooting (landscape, street, wildlife…), and blending in well with the environment means understanding it more thoroughly than if I was just walking by.

    It takes a lot of work, but there is a certain high I get when so involved with what I am shooting…and while many times I come away with nothing in terms of “quality photos”, I am still all smiles from the great experience I had.

    • You attitude is admirable even if you don’t always come away with great images. And I do not find it strange at all that you want to experience the environment on a deeper level. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Randall.

  13. niasunset says:

    This is another great post of yours dear Otto. Thank you, love, nia

  14. Why do I photograph? For me it has become normal, a different way of seeing – and definitely a way of more conscious seeing: Noticing the small details, the extraordinary in our daily surroundings, the good and the not so good in the physical expression of how we live.

    I used to walk my paths without recognizing much, seeing but not seeing at all as my brain did the normal thing: categorizing and immediately masking what was not extraordinary, dangerous or enticing. And with that I fell prey to the usual mechanisms of advertising, leading into that optically polluted (and in consequence physically polluted, too) environment of ours, namely neon colors, wall-size ads full of stereotypes, christmas music in the shops etc – all things I don’t really like.
    Seeing consciously – and a camera is a good tool to learn that, as already Dorothea Lange had said – offers a world of small wonders around us. That I savour, and in there I photograph.

  15. sarahlearichards says:

    I photograph not just for the fun of it, but for my descendants. How I wish I had more pictures of my ancestors.

    • That I think a lot people wish they had. But I think that is the good think with the modern, easy technology that has made photography available for all, that the generations after will have plenty of photos of their ancestors. Thank you for sharing your reason for photographing, Sarah.

  16. suej says:

    I think I, too, take images as a medium of engagement, both for myself and others…I often joke that I take photos because I cannot draw! It is my outlet for artistic creativity. I also write poetry (sometimes), but photography is my first love…

  17. I am trying to capture time – it is the closest we will ever get to travelling into the past. Photographs that look ordinary and mundane on the day we take them can become jewels 20-30 years on……..and yes, like SueJ, I can’t draw 🙂

    • It’s is really.Those classical images of yesterday were “only” ordinary and mundane photos when they were capture. We never really know what will stand out when years have past, do we!? Thank you for the comment, Robin.

  18. David Hall says:

    Another excellent post Otto. Photography has helped me to really see. I now find myself looking at a scene in everyday life and inspecting its photographic qualities. I think that it is generally the quality of the light that first attracts my eye, even when I am not intentionally on a photographic outing. So I guess I can say that I take photos in order to capture the beauty of the light at that particular moment in time.

    • As I wrote somewhere else, being able to see with more awareness is one of the benefits of photography. And, yes, the beauty of light is always great to capture. Thank you for the comment, David.

  19. girlexpat says:

    I to like to share what I think is captivating, through photographs, but to sum it up, I want people to see what I see through the lens, but your post, also made me think too, why do I REALLY photograph?

  20. Chillbrook says:

    I think I started taking pictures more for the process than anything else. I knew I liked to take pictures as photogrpahy had been a hobby in childhood and when I became ill, photography seemed a good way to keep myself occupied, more especially because of the digital revolution that had happened in between. I knew I could keep myself busy processing pictures on my PC. Surrounded by the Cornish countryside however, what better subject could there be and the process became much less of a motivation than sharing the fabulous landscape through my photographs and my blog.
    I’ve been working on a project that has required me to create a statement of intent before I even started taking my pictures and this has been a wonderful way to get me thinking about just why I’m pressing the shutter and the pictures have reflected this I’m sure. I think this is very useful exercise we could all set ourselves on occasion. Perhaps something out of our comfort zone as is the case with my project. It’s a real workout for the photographic muscles.

    • Creating a statement of intent is really a good way of becoming aware of your reasons behind your photography and it also forms the way you start to photograph in giving you a clearer vision. It’s maybe not something for all, but if you are serious about photography, it’s definitely worth doing. Thank you for sharing you experience – and sharing the gorgeous landscape in Cornwall through your photos, Adrian.

  21. I’ve always carried a camera with me. In the old days of film there were financial limitations to how many pictures I would take, now with digital the cost of each photo minimal unless you wish to print it out. This is a good thing (you can experiment more) and a bad thing (you can take a lot of inane photos just because you can). Photography helps me to understand my world, as a foreigner in Tbilisi, it helps me to make some sense of where I am living and helps me open my eyes to what is around.

    • Digital photograph has really brought about a revolution not only technically but also with respect to the way we shoot. The fact that it doesn’t cost anything to photograph as soon as you have acquired a camera, is a big benefit. And yes, photography is a great way to make sense of our world around us. Thank you for your comment, Jim.

  22. viveka says:

    Great question!!!!? I did a post last week about our bigger photographer, Christer Strömholm – http://wp.me/p293Pw-8As – he had some really good answers that I can relate to. The world famous street photographer … that had the most fantastic view on his art and his life.
    Why I take my camera with nearly where ever I go – even when I do my grocery shopping … because I want to borrow some moments of my every day.

    • Yes, Christer Strömholm was a photograph in his own league, always honest and always shooting with his heart. Borrowing moments of everyday life – I like that idea. Thank you, Viveka.

      • viveka says:

        Otto, he truly was … I have manage to get hold of his book “Wise Words” with 101 of his quotes.
        His images, as he called it was so down to earth and not always beautiful.

  23. emeraldwake says:

    i need to , i create art to survive next day ,Bless

  24. What a thought provoking post.. I’ll keep my reply short and simple in the words of a photographer I admire:
    “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” ― Elliott Erwitt

    • I think you almost arrested me with this quote. But I do think Elliott Erwitt is right in that the best photos don’t need words to explain anything. Thank you for the comment, Lynne.

  25. Patti Kuche says:

    You ask such a simple, straightforward question to which I know you will receive a huge variety of answers. Reducing it to the bare minimum I have to say that my photography is an attempt to record just how much in common we all have, beyond borders, nationalities and perceived differences.

    Love the shot above, such humour and elegance!

  26. fgassette says:

    I love your post. We can always improve with knowledge and instructions. Although not an expert, I hope people will enjoy or learn something from the photos I take. Thanks for always making us think.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  27. Elina says:

    That’s a wonderful photo up there, like a little story of a sweet moment. All those women looking at the man with the baby. 🙂 Wonderful post Otto! It is important to ask the question and think about it. I think my blog title expresses quite well why I photograph – to capture little moments.. mostly wonderful and beautiful moments that are so lovely to come back to. And I agree, the process of photographing itself is very enjoyable. 🙂

  28. Viola says:

    I’ve been thinking of this lately, possibly because of your post ‘Too much of nothing’ as I was wondering if I should maybe shoot less or just share less. There is a scene in the movie ‘American Beauty’ where this boy shows a girl a video he made of a plastic bag dancing in the air. He tells her that “Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember – I need to remember. Sometimes, there’s so much beauty in the world – I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart is just going to cave in.” I think this is also the main reason why I take pictures – I need to remember and photography is helping me to do this.

    • What a wonderful approach to photography. I do remember that scene, and it feels very right in your context of seeing things. With my post “Too Much of Nothing” I was intending to make anyone shoot or share less, but just be more aware. Thank you for your comment, Viola.

  29. Alli Farkas says:

    Oh gosh, this sounds so workmanlike rather than philosophical, but one of the main reasons I take photographs is so I have something to paint! I don’t obsessively copy my landscapes; in fact, some of my black and white landscape photos have turned into brilliant colorful paintings. Others are relentlessly cropped and rearranged. I do, however, need a static picture of a horse if I’m going to do a portrait that turns out looking anything at all like the animal in question. They just refuse to pose 😉

    • I think photography has been used by painters as long as photography has been around. And of course I see your point with the horse refusing to pose. 🙂 But workmanlike? No I think it’s a great way to use photography and I bet every so often your photos will stand on their own feet so to speak. Thank you, Alli.

  30. I used to love nature as a kid, would spend hours exploring woods, fields and so on. And as I’ve entered my golden years, I’ve re-connected with this although it’s only here in North Cyprus I realise how much. I suddenly twigged I don’t photograph people. here and in Australia, I take and have taken photographs of scenery, rocks, flowers, birds, insects, frogs, nature, and I love incorporating it in my art. Photography has helped me reconnect with the introvert within me and to enjoy become aware of the natural world around me. This winter I have really taken note of the beauty of winter and winter foliage, something I’d missed completely before.

    • Using photography to reconnect with something that you maybe have lost when you grew out of childhood, seems like a wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing your experience, Mo.

  31. I photograph because I enjoy it. I don’t mind saying here I get excited when I see something I’d like to photograph. But as you know I’m an illustrator not a photographer. For that reason I have some knowledge what’s good picturization. I analyze what makes good picturization everywhere, photography, film and illustration.
    I know sometimes my photography connects with people and as long as it does I’m happy to share it but I have no interest in beyond that, meaning in a professional context.

    • I think more “professional” photographers should enjoy photographing more than they do. I think that is the best you can do. Thank you for making me aware of that, Allen.

  32. clgphotos says:

    Ansel Adams is quoted as saying, “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” A photograph is as much about the photographer as it is about the subject matter.

    • That is a great quote by the old masters. And yes, I totally agree that a photograph is just as much about the photographer as it is about the subject matter. Thank you for the input, Craig.

  33. I love the post and all of the comments.
    I photograph to capture a moment, whether it is a moment with family, an inspiring meal, a wonderful place, a bird, a flower that I found along a road. It is all about moments.

  34. Patrizia M. says:

    Mi è piaciuto molto leggere perché tu fai foto e devo dire che ci riesci benissimo. Complimenti!!!
    Ciao, Patrizia

  35. Earl Moore says:

    In the simplest of terms, I photograph because at this point in my life if I pause in my photography for a while I feel a part of me is missing or being ignored. I’m not sure I fully understand the “why’s” of this but perhaps with time I will.

  36. RuneE says:

    A nicely put question, and not an easy one to answer either. We all have our different reasons, usual plural for most of us. Personally, I stared at school at around 15 years of age – just for the fun of it and because the processes involved fascinated me. Later on it became more of a family “thing” – memories are made of photos. Then I suddenly got a very serious disease, and I had to get something to take my mind off morbid thoughts. I bought one of the early, compact digital cameras and tried to find what the digital world could give me.

    However, I survived my disease (so far) and bought my first DSLR, which I used to help me return to normal life as much as I could. I think I succeeded, for now I take photos for many of the same reasons as have been mentioned above.

    • I think you have succeeded. It’s really interesting to get know how photography can be used in a healing process – and you are not the first to point at that. Just goes to show how profoundly photography can be a part of our lives. Thank you for sharing your story, Rune, I very much appreciate.

  37. My Heartsong says:

    This is a good question to come back to every once in a while. If I do not like the answer I can change my perspective and reasons for doing the photography-it might help me improve.

    • I do think the reason will change with experience and as we grow older. So, yes, you are quite right, it’s a question worth coming back to every so often. Thank for pointing this, Jane.

  38. treesshrubs says:

    Great post Otto ! A myriad of possible reasons….mostly its about creating images that say something, that have a symmetry about them, that bring joy in contemplation or a knowing of some deeper connection. … : )

  39. As an amateur, I revel in the discovery process and then ability to highlight any number of elements and subjects, frame them in a way that is meaningful to me, then share my brief moment of discovery with the viewer. I can also see that what you have verbalized about your beautiful work is evident in every image.

    • Photography is very much a discovery process, isn’t it – whether you are an amateur or a professional. Or ought to be. Thank you for the comment, and the lovely words, Elena.

  40. Wow. Nice thoughts to share. Ditto on many of those thoughts. I’m going to keep this in my simple style. I photograph to capture the beauty or silly nature of animals. If I can stir emotion or make people happy, if even for a second I am satisfied. Satisfaction is my key to happiness.

    • I think the desire to stir emotions in the viewer is something we all strive for. Why would be otherwise share our photos – besides for memory reasons? Very well said – and thank, Jo.

  41. YellowCable says:

    Another great post, I think every one has some thoughts (whether she/he is fully aware of it) before taking a picture. Brings that thoughts out into awareness every time before taking a shot is great idea. I think that is about one particular case but as you mentioned overall goal for doing photography is like a looking at a big picture. It is good to know that too. For me, I am having fun most of the time. I am also interested in understand gear or physic behind it. Photography lets you bridge art form and science together 🙂

  42. PC PHOTO says:

    Recently a news report stated that more people are taking photo’s now than at any other time in history. However, most people are missing “being in the moment”.

    • I think you might be right. But it’s not necessarily only about photography. Generally I think we are not conscious enough about being in the moment, and enjoy here and now. Thank you for the input.

  43. I photograph because I need to! A less flippant answer is that whilst photographing I become immersed in the situation, my surroundings and the small details of great beauty that otherwise pass us by. If I can then share that with someone else I am once again rewarded.

    • It’s one of the many beauties of photography, that you become so much more conscious of the now, you almost live more intensely and with more awareness. And, yes, if we can share those moments with others, that’s an added benefit. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Noeline.

  44. LensScaper says:

    The question you pose – why do we photograph – is a fascinating one. For me sometimes it is a compulsion that I cannot explain but I see something that may be about beauty, colour, design, line, graphic, light etc etc. It’s a very personal feeling. So although my images have meaning for me I don’t expect all of them to have meaning to someone else. The important thing is what I do, I do for me.

    • What you point to is where all art has to originate. We do what we do because it matters to us. Then of course we do want to share and move others with our work of art in whatever form it takes. Thank you for your thoughts on this subject, Andy.

  45. Sometimes I’ll see something and it’s so beautiful, so interesting, I want to “capture” it. Ultimately, I’ll want to share that image with others so that they can feel the inspiration, too.
    As a writer, I love the reprieve that photography gives my mind. “A picture speaks…”
    Thanks for this post!

  46. Leya says:

    I have started asking myself this question since you first mentioned it. And I agree with so many others here…there are many layers in the answer to “why”. So, I will respond by using another situation, the reverse you might say…about my physically aching mind when I see something that goes straight to my heart – and I have no camera. I cannot take a photo of the magic I’m watching in front of me. I’m working on rediscovering this ability of using my inner eye. I want to regain the feeling of pure joy and satisfaction in watching a great moment or thing or animal or…whatever is happening that I cannot capture but in my mind and inner eye. No lens, no camera, no gadget to capture this forever…or – maybe I can do this another way? The old way. Somehow I think we, today, might be losing this important ability. I don’t think we should. Let them coexist – of course! But, don’t let go of your human gift…develop the ability of remembering and keeping memories alive inside!.

    • I think you point to a very important aspect of photography – or should I say living. It’s so important that photography does’t become the reason itself for whatever we experience. I know from myself earlier on, that I could see something and if I didn’t have a camera I would be devastated. The most extreme experience I had 30 years ago when I was travelling for half a year in Asia. It was towards the end of the trip and I was trekking in Nepal, alone and way away from anything, when my camera broke down (probably after half a year of hard usage). Needless to say that it felt like a disaster, but more disastrous – viewed in retrospect – was my decision to break off the whole trip. I returned to Kathmandu and a few days later I flew home. Today, I would never have done this. As you point out we need to be able to keep our eyes and minds open for what is happening around us, even when we don’t carry a camera. And appreciate life as it unfolds without having to capture it. Thanks for a very poignant comment, Leya.

  47. Leya says:

    I forgot to say Thank you for always inspiring and making us think – It’s so easy to just let life run on without reflecting enough.

  48. themofman says:

    I have indeed asked myself that question. I shoot as a creative way to not only express myself but to hopefully affect change:

    http://themofman.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/weekly-post-challenge-habit/

    It is most certainly a conscious and calculated act on my part.

  49. What a good question, Otto — and what a variety of thought provoking and inspiring answers in the many comments, so far.

    My fascination with cameras and photography started as a very young teenager in the early 60s, when my father brought home a Praktica SLR with a Carl Zeiss Jena lens. Sounds like a trite beginning to an “About” page, but it’s really true!

    When I had to give up being a professional musician (jazz guitar) due to a finger problem in the mid 70s, I turned to photography once again to fill the creative hole in my life that just had to be filled, and I’ve never looked back.

    And over the last few years, I’ve become a compulsive image hunter…

    And now I must say many thanks to you, Otto, because i’m going to add the above to my actual About page — and I really must give you credit there for the inspiration!

  50. PS… I’m in catch up on your posts now, Otto, after a break from blogging while working on a new direction for my online presence…

  51. Paula says:

    🙂 In an earlier article I offered my reasons.. it is nice to read yours, though it was pretty clear to me from what I saw in your captures. I am happy for the opportunity to follow you work, Otto.

  52. lifeofbree says:

    This really has made me think about why I photograph. I am one of those people who buys old photos (especially the black & white) of people I don’t know from antique stores. They offer insight into a space in time and I most like to imagine the story behind those people in the photos. I have also often wondered were there no family members left who wanted to keep these images for themselves. My favourite moments to capture are with my family as well as nature when I travel. I consider myself the family historian, perhaps it’s just because I am the only one with the kind of time to pursue it energetically right now. I also live far away from my siblings and country hop a little so what I photograph is a way to take them with me on my journey when I share the photos. Perhaps most importantly, as a words person sometimes a picture really is worth more than a thousand words. I capture what I like, random bits with a back story because I am always interesed in that. I notice that the more I take photos the more awareness with which I approach my travel. I hope to grow up to take photos with a great camera, for now my mobile will have to do. Nice share!

    • I think most photos are taken my family historians like you. So also those vintage photos you like to buy – and many of what we today consider the classics were captured the same way. You raise an intriguing question whether or not there were family members of those pictures that wouldn’t be interested in them. It opens a vast abyss when you start to think about it. What happened? Why not? Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reasons.

  53. To capture the moment, sir… 🙂

  54. One of the joys of your efforts is the responses of others to your commentary. The reasons for the creative process are so individual and yet universal. Sometimes it’s unclear as to the why. Sometimes it just has to be. With me it is a compulsion–a core need. I see and I still. I see and I define and redefine that moment. It’s not from the need to share, but the need to create. Photography and writing are two sources of internal fulfillment that is never truly fulfilled for me. Each completion has no future bearing on satisfaction. It simply spurs the next moment’s desire to capture the omnipresence of the magnificent and struggling universe that we inhabit. Otto, thanks again for all your encouragement to those that travel along with your creative journey.

    • What you write about fulfillment is very true, isn’t. As is said it’s not goal, but the road to the goal that is important. There is satisfaction in completion, but only to start another project. Thanks for a great comment, Sally.

  55. mk says:

    I photograph to encourage myself to see and to notice, and to learn how to see better. I’m surprised that beauty and delight are everywhere, always at hand, even just outside my door. All that’s necessary is the willingness to pay attention. This surprises me.

    • That is so true, isn’t it. Beauty is everywhere, only, too often we don’t even notice it. Photography do or can open our eyes more profoundly to the world around us. Thanks for your comment.

  56. JC says:

    I totally love this post!! You have articulated very well, how I feel when I capture something with my lens 😉 It is often hard to explain that to someone to whom a photo is just a photo.

    For me, I like to capture the ‘beauty’ that I see. I equate it to someone who looks at them self in the mirror and leaves the house, but during the day they don’t know what they look like when the wind gets in their hair, and the sun hits their skin just right, or they have that excited gleam and whimsical smile etc….I LOVE to capture that!!
    I hope that makes sense 🙂

    Blessings JC
    Glad I discovered your blog…you have a new follower.

  57. M says:

    Hej Otto, den här frågan har jag funderat på till och från sedan du tog upp den i ett tidigare inlägg. För var gång jag funderar kommer jag på nya anledningar. Viljan att skapa var startskottet. Under den korta tid jag fotat så har intresset för att utforska det jag ser och stunderna i naturen blivit alltmer betydelsefulla. Tänker inte längre på att jag vill skapa utan nu är jag mer uppslukad av det jag ser och upplever under stunderna i naturen med kameran. Det känns som om det är dessa stunder och upptäckter som ger mig energi och drivkraft att lära.
    Kommer absolut att fortsätta ställa mig den här frågan lite då och då för att se hur föränderliga svaren blir över tid. Det hade jag nog aldrig gjort om jag inte hittat hit.
    Tack, tack.
    Bästa Hälsningar
    Monica

    • Jeg synes det er en god ide å stille spørsmålet igjen i ny og ne, for svaret vil ganske sikkert endre seg, og med det vil du også se hvordan ditt fotografi har forandret seg og hva som er viktig for. Det er et viktig skritt, tror jeg, når du er mindre opptatt av det å skape i seg selv, men mer hva det er du skaper. Takk for et spennende og utdypende svar, Monica.

  58. Tina Schell says:

    A wonderful post Otto – I enjoyed the comments as much as the post and am glad I’m a bit late to the party! For me, photography is about challenging myself. I used to shoot in my 20s and quit when I became embroiled in my technology career, which challenged me every day. When I retired I decided to fill the void with a return to the photography I’d always loved and the ability to travel as I’d always wanted to. The world is a truly amazing place and I’ve been blessed to see much of it. I love seeing other cultures as well as the incredible beauty of nature in its many forms. My challenge is to capture and share my experiences to the very best of my ability, combining seeing, shooting, writing, editing, creativity, and artistry with (hopefully) growing technical skills to create something compelling. Sometimes I succeed, other times not, but I always enjoy the challenge and the opportunity for growth. And, a side benefit is that I remember best those things I’ve photographed as the years go by! Thanks for asking the very thought-provoking question!

    • And thanks for giving a very honest and inspirational answer, Tina. The challenging part of photography is one thing we haven’t touch upon in this discussion, so I am glad you brought it in. Because it’s an important part of the process, isn’t i? And don’t we all sometimes succeed and at other times not? That is probably good, too, if it was all a piece of cake, it wouldn’t be so fulfilling, I think.

  59. A simple question but not a simple answer! probably many answers are possible for me, among which in random order because I’m not able to draw as I would like, because my father was doing it when I was a child and I learned from him, because I try to stop the time passing, because I like to look at photographs, because there are stories I see around me and I would like to share, because…hmm I have to think about seriously…
    Thanks for the good question in this interesting post, with already many interesting answer.
    robert

  60. Louis says:

    I think I photograph as a means of exploring the world as I see it. And the world as I see it comprises patterns, textures, lines, shapes and colours in relation to each other. People, when they occasionally appear, are at a distance or conveying a’message’ within the scene. I am mostly trying to express and evoke a feeling rather than record a visual imitation or record. The growth of digital processing has enabled me to develop a more extensive expressive vocabulary and I spend an increasing amount of time at the computer.,. I like other people to see my work but I make no attempt to promote it other than my WordPress blog. In short, I think my photography is about me learning about me!

  61. You’ve posed an interesting question. “Why do I photograph?” Sometimes, it’s simply that I’m visually chronicling something I want to write a story about. Sometimes, for the pure joy of it. Sometimes, just because I can. Mostly, a photograph tells me a story. Sometimes, more than one. I’m trying to get that story. Sometimes, when I upload the image, I get a different story from what I thought. I like the surprise. There’s probably more, but that is all I can articulate in my current reptilian brain state. And I’ve already used up my quota of “sometimes” for the day.

  62. Roland Theys says:

    Admirable photo Otto, nice day to you!

  63. indahs says:

    I like this post so much. It makes me think why I feel lost when traveling or scuba diving without my camera 🙂 I agree that the photographic process itself makes taking pictures appealing. I meant, There were moments or scenes that I would like to keep and share through images. I am not good in writing to express myself but at least, I hope, from every pictures I took and shared would express my feeling and what I had seen…

  64. Otto, an interesting question to ponder. For me I enjoy sharing images to better tell the stories of the people that we meet along the way. For those who can’t join us on our journeys, it’s also a way of sharing what we’ve learned on the road and how we’ve changed as a result of travel.

  65. Over the years the reasons I photograph have changed. When I first started with photography I wanted to be able to create art without having to be able to draw or paint. I could use my ideas with the camera as my paintbrush. Later it was to try to capture what I was seeing and feeling through. You here people say “the picture doesn’t do it justice”. I wanted to create pictures that did do the subject justice. Now it seems it is how I leave my mark. If I take a picture and share it then it means I was here. I exist. I expect my thoughts on photographs will evolve again before I’m gone.

    • I am picture, ergo I am. 🙂 We all do change over the run of years, don’t we. It’s really interesting to learn how you see you photography and the reasons behind it has develop as you have grown alder. Thank you for sharing, Michelle.

  66. Enjoyed reading all those comments! An important question indeed. I photograph for the same reasons as you and others here, Otto and I can’t explain it any better than you do 🙂 Thanks for yet another wonderful, thought provoking article.

  67. Fascinating subject, the why, our motivation toward an art form. Beautifully said! I’m a writer and so I feel I paint pictures with words. When I pull out my camera or my phone, I’m trying to capture a moment, maybe I’m trying to harness time? Because my father died when I was a baby, and I have very few black and white photographs of him, I also think I take a picture to connect to my family, so that I will leave something of our love behind.

  68. Stephanie says:

    I like to photograph to share places with others around the world who may never get to visit, and I specialise in churches and cathedrals because I love the interplay between dark and light physically as well as spiritually in these ancient and modern places. [Sacred places photographs]…and thanks for dropping by and liking my post Otto!

  69. I haven’t needed to ask that question for 3 years now. My photoblog has a voracious appetite and several hundred followers who expect me to make them laugh (or at least groan).

  70. Lena says:

    I enjoy both being photographed and take images myself…My life is changing so fast along with myself…It’s like a time-lapse movie (which I was always fascinated by)… Photography makes many wonderful moments in my life eternal.

  71. kerbey says:

    I believe history is important, and photography is a way of documenting your life. I took over 100 pictures on Saturday at the soccer field. That may seem banal, but when I emailed the best shots (and made a point to include one with each kid), I had parents email to say thank you for capturing their kid (they had no pictures of them this year), they were sick and missed the game and appreciated the images, they wanted to know what kind of camera and zoom lens I used, etc. There is joy in being able to share your pictures with people. For free. Just to be kind.

    • Yes, it’s really fun to be able to share pictures with others. And you are right of course, capturing history is an import element of photography. Thank you for commenting.

  72. povp says:

    Thanks for the like on povp! Interesting post, really made me ponder. I think I take photographs to get people to feel something, or have that ‘huh, how did she do that?’-moment. But it also has something to do with processing life visually, although I can’t put my finger on it exactly. All I know is I blog to find out what my perspective on life is. Which is also an interesting question to ask, why do we blog?

    • The question might be worth a post? Anyway, as you say it’s not always easy to pinpoint why we photograph, but to make people feel something, is a good reason in itself – I think. Thanks for returning the visit.

  73. I photograph, because I feel like I have created something, and which gives me a lot of pleasure 🙂

    We can freeze life through photos, which is something everyone long for 🙂

  74. Touch2Touch says:

    Fascinating to be challenged by the post and then to read through the comments. So many reasons! Almost as many reasons as people —-
    I do best when I don’t explore this question any more than lightly. I consider myself first a writer, and I can talk about that, using words (of course!) at length, if so inclined. Images are equally important to me, but I can’t talk easily about them. I’ve often wished I were an artist so that I could capture images in huge gooey smooges of oil paint. I tried that, and enjoyed it immensely for several years, but in the long run it wasn’t mine to do, so I stopped. Photography, which I’ve done on and off for decades, does (at least a lot more) BELONG to me. What is revealing is what I DON’T photograph. I don’t photograph people, or large landscapes, or do photojournalism like Patti Kuche does so superbly. So I guess I don’t photograph action. I think perhaps I try to photograph ESSENCE. Stillness. What James Joyce once somewhere called “quidditas,” “that-ness.” I read that long ago, and was so struck by it I’ve never forgotten it. When I was painting, I painted still-lifes, and now the majority of my photographs are just that. I hope I capture some essence of whatever is there. Can’t explain it any clearer than that. The one time photography was different for me was when I went for six weeks to Japan. I have never taken better or more interesting photographs: the country touched something deep within me and I responded with my camera. I’m sure in another life I was Japanese.
    Sorry to be so long-winded. The blog post obviously touched off something very deep in me, just as the trip to Japan did. Doomo arigato gozaimasu, Otto.

    • I find Japan to be a very fascinating country, too, and I think what you experienced there is at the heart of the creative experience. When you feel deeply touched that is when you are able to express yourself most engagingly and poignantly – whether it’s with words or a visual language. I like your approach to photography; in trying to capture essence and stillness, that «quidditas». Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Judith.

  75. Pingback: Do you know why you photograph? | blogagaini

  76. Livonne says:

    I love the way the world looks through the lens. Sometimes when you look at the big picture, it can be overwhelming and you miss the good bits because you’re concentrating on too much at once.. When you look through the lens, you become more selective of what you want to see and the way you want to see it. It puts the world back in your own hands 🙂

    • Yes, the process of photographing does make you look at the world in a different way, doesn’t it. You get more focused and sharpen your perception. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Livonne.

  77. I want to capture all the beautiful moments in my life. I also like to find the “different” angle. On my blog, I am taking people on a journey with me, and the photos are a huge part of the story.

  78. Great thought indeed.I shall put it like this Why do people wish and prefer to see more photo pages?

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