Recently I had a MAJOR revelation about photography and what most people enjoy about it. It’s something that, as I think back over the years, people have been telling me over and over again in subtle ways – but I never paid attention.
Lately, as I was creating my Wildlife Editing Secrets course, and looking at hundreds of emails I received from people leading up to the course, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I enjoy photography (and many of you do too), for a reason that nobody ever talks about.
Photography Is Like Playing an Instrument
If you’ve ever read my other longer blog posts before, I often compare photography to other hobbies. One of those hobbies that I’ve taken part in from time to time is playing the guitar. So why would I ever play the guitar? Well, it’s certainly not to be a pro in a touring band. That’ll never happen. Just like golf in a way right? I play that too, and I have no plans of being a touring pro – I just like it. I don’t plan on joining any competitions or battling it out with another guitarist. I don’t post videos of me playing the guitar, or my golf scores online or anything like that.
Both of these activities are relaxing, yet incredibly challenging (and sometimes downright frustrating) at the same time. Sometimes I golf socially and some people get together with friends and jam or play instruments together. When we’re done, sometimes we grab food or a beer and hang out and talk about playing, etc… And sometimes I take part in these hobbies alone and totally enjoy it. And if I practice, sometimes I go out and practice somewhere, or sometimes I practice in the privacy of my own home.
But you know one thing that I never said in the previous paragraph? That I take part in these hobbies so that I can show it off, perform publicly, or get on a leaderboard, etc… For me at least, many times playing the guitar or golfing is about an intangible benefit, or feeling of satisfaction I get (or don’t get when it doesn’t go well, but I still enjoy it).
HOW DOES THIS TIE IN TO PHOTOGRAPHY AND EDITING?
Okay, now let’s talk photography. Why do I take photos? Because I like it. I’m not a pro and don’t want to be. I don’t join competitions (though I realize many people do). Sometimes I go out and shoot alone and sometimes I go with other people. I practice in various places and I can often sit for hours and look at and edit photos on my computer.
But photography is usually thought to be different because we do, in a way, have a tangible product to show – the visual of the photograph. But with playing the guitar, you can record it and have a tangible product too right? If I don’t keep a scorecard with my golf game, does that mean the round of golf never happened? Of course not!
The question is… does it NEED to only be about the tangible finished product being shown off? Or can your process of taking a photo and editing it on the computer also be about the intangible experience. The experience of editing that photo, sitting back and enjoying your hard work… alone on your computer. Does it have to be all about showing it off?
This is something I had never given much thought to until recently.
A POOR ANSWER TO A POPULAR QUESTION
I wish I could tell you how many times I get emails and questions that ask, “Hey Matt, so what do you do with all of your photos?”. I’ve always thought it was a fair question. I mean I do spend a lot of time taking the photos and a lot of time on the computer editing them too.
I usually answer that I sometimes share them online, put them in my web portfolio and/or print them. But honestly… sometimes I think I overstate the degree to which I do that – and make it seem like this is a more-than-common occurrence for me and my photography.
But ya know what? It’s not. More times than not, I just enjoy looking at the photos. Especially with my wildlife photography. I look through them, edit them, sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor in taking and editing the photos. Some of my favorites get shared, but definitely not all of them. And sometimes I go back and re-edit them or re-look at photo shoots from months and years in the past.
And rather than hiding it, and being almost embarrassed by it… I’m now owning it. I’m owning the fact that the majority of my photography lives on my computer for my enjoyment and my enjoyment only. I don’t share or show off my photography as much as I’m led to think I should. I’ve come to the realization that photography is for me – and not necessarily always to share or for some one else. And I’m owning it because I know for a fact that I’m not alone.
How Do I Know I’m Not Alone
This was my “ah ha!” moment (or moments really). Over the years I’ve often had people say to me that they don’t do anything with their photography but enjoy it on their computer. But it never clicked. Then one day, I was talking with some one who is an amazing wildlife photographer, and she said something that really stuck with me. I was looking at her photos and she asked a question about noise reduction or something like that. And I said, “Well, it depends what you want to do with the photo”. She replied with “I’m not doing anything with it… look at that beautiful animal… I just like to enjoy it on my computer and I want it to be as perfect as possible”.
Bam!!! It hit me. While many people had basically said the same thing to me before, this was that final kick-in-the-butt that I needed to realize this is really a thing. And not just a thing that other people do, but a thing that I actually do too!
How This Relates to My Wildlife Photography
How many of you play an instrument or know some one that plays? Okay, leave your hands up. Now how many of you regularly perform with that instrument in front of people? Yeah… see… a lot of your hands just went down (even though I can’t see them, I know they did).
So practicing and playing the instrument in the privacy of your own space seems normal right? I bet there are millions of people that play an instrument, and only a small fraction actually play or perform it for others or make recordings that they share with others.
I’m suggesting that photography is very similar. Sometimes, we just enjoy doing it and looking at the photos on our computer, and feeling a sense of accomplishment. In fact, for my wildlife photography this is primarily how I enjoy it. While I love the challenge of shooting, I don’t get to see the wildlife as much because it all happens so fast. But I get to relive those experiences on my computer.
I have photos of two birds ripping apart a fish in mid-air. Are photos like that really something I’m going to plaster all over my house walls with prints? Probably not. But man are they enjoyable to edit to the finest detail, and look at on a big screen in my office. There’s a HUGE feeling of satisfaction there. Much like when a person who plays an instrument, learns and song, and has this great feeling when they practice it by themselves and totally nails it.
TIMES ARE DIFFERENT
There’s a popular quote from Ansel Adams that goes:
“The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print is the performance”.– Ansel Adams
That’s something people often say when they talking about how photography must be printed to be enjoyed. And trust me, I’m no stranger to printing and suggesting that we do it. And on some level I hope everyone has a degree of permanence to their photography – so it lives on, and doesn’t just sit tucked away on hard drives forever.
But, that doesn’t have to be all of it – or even most of it. Nowadays, we don’t need a print to enjoy our photography. Back in the film days, the ONLY way to enjoy photography (after the act of it was done) was the print. But now, we have a computer screen and photo editing. These tools let us relive our photography, even after the act of shooting has passed. I believe this is a good thing, and a very normal thing, to enjoy doing.
It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination
I’ll leave you with this. I don’t think anyone would disagree that photography is often the art of seeing. Think about that statement and the key word… “seeing”. It doesn’t imply anything else after. And while there are many definitions to photography, none of them strictly state that photography is the process of taking a photo, printing it or sharing it on Instagram to get a bunch of clapping hand and heart emojis – and that photography, as a hobby, isn’t complete until you do that.
So, if you’re like me, and sometimes find it incredibly satisfying to take a photo, get on the computer and edit and bring out it’s best, and then sit back and revel in the amazing show nature puts on, whether it’s wildlife or landscapes, then embrace it. You looking at the photo on your computer can indeed be what motivates you.
As the popular saying goes, it’s about the journey not the destination. And the journey in photography is the process of taking and editing the photo. If giving it a destination (printing and sharing it online) is important to you, then go for it. But don’t, for one minute, not enjoy the fact that the “journey” can be the fun part of photography… even if you only look at your photos on the computer and they never get seen anywhere else.
Thanks for sticking with me through this article. I hope it helps vindicate some of you who love wildlife photography (or any type really), and put a lot of work in to taking and editing those photos, but don’t necessarily do anything with them other than simply looking at them, and enjoying them on your own.
And if you want some extra help in editing some of those photos, I hope you’ll swing by and check out my Wildlife Editing Secrets course.
Have a good one!
This so perfectly captured what photography has been for me. Thanks for “coming clean”.
All I can say is AMEN.
Well said Matt! I had a photographic crisis this past year when I thought I was just stockpiling images for no purpose. I’m in a camera club and it seemed like I was always second guessing what a judge might think, so lost the enjoyment of just shooting what I like. I do have a question though: most of my images are in my Lightroom catalogue. Do other people just leave them there as chunks of binary code or do you export them to another location and declare them “finished”?
I take my photos in raw – do some post production on them if I think they warrant it then publish to a Library folder. This has subfolders for yyy/yyymm. This I use for screen savers on my two computers and extract some for electronic photo frame. I then get to see them often and remember the event or holiday or…. Photos are after all memories!
Well said, Matt. I take mostly street photography as I like to capture candid photos of people doing things they love to do. Skateboarding, window-shopping, walking with a partner, surfing, listening to a concert, whatever. I enjoy capturing the moment before it vanishes . I often share the photos with the subject if I get the chance. And I post some on IG so that others can enjoy the moment I froze in time.
Like you, I get the most pleasure from “seeing” the moment, freezing it as an image, and then making that image look like I saw it in my mind at that time.
Thanks for your courses that help me preserve that moment.
Excellent Blog!!!! Taking pictures/images/photos is a destress activity for me. I can sit at a waterfall for a full day just taking in the moment, seeing a new angle, a new perspective, a new view, and try to capture it the way I visualize it…..and sometimes I come close. Will it go in a gallery? NOPE! But sometimes it goes in my gallery on my computer or sometimes even on my wall. I take great joy in the process. Yes sometimes people see them and say I should sell them…..sounds like work to me. I thoroughly enjoy the process. If some one likes them I provide a gift. It is my joy to take pictures. Even if I’m not the greatest.
This is such a great post. I agree with so many of the comments above… this article sums up a lot of why I photograph. I also do a photo blog and am thinking of how I can write something like this without just copying. Anyway, thanks very much, Matt.
Me too! I have a shot of my brother’s dog I took when we were on vacation in Block Island. He was frolicking in the water enjoying the waves. I snapped several shots of him. It wasn’t until I got home and looking at the shots that I had captured a fantastic shot of him! He was tack sharp and the water splashing around him was also tack sharp! I didn’t have to post or print it. I got great enjoyment out of just looking at it knowing that I captured that shot!
Thanks for you insight, spot on.
Hey Matt, I shot as a pro for many years in Fashion and Advertising and a few other areas. I got really tired of it and quit. In fact, I quit photography altogether. I was out of it for many years. I had taken up rafting and after becoming proficient I was invited to raft the Grand Canyon with some folks I rafted with. I had never done landscape but knew this was the chance of a lifetime. I bought an entry-level Pentax and a couple of decent lenses and the first book on digital photography (as I had only shot film) for the trip. That awakened my love for photography again and I kept shooting. At some point, my daughter decided that she wanted to be a pro and shoot weddings so I said I would teach and I tooled up with so good gear. After about a year she decided that it was just way too much work hahaha and quit. I shot long enough to pay off the gear. Then my love of photography came back in full swing. I shoot what I want. Landscape, musicians, whatever interests me. Every so often I get hired for something and will not turn it down but mostly I shoot for myself. It was your courses that I turned to learn photoshop and lightroom and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate them. They were easy for an old film guy like me to understand. Beyond my family, I have three loves, Photography, Whitewater Rafting, and Martial Arts. I have done them all professionally and am so glad that now I just do them for the love of it. One thing I learned along the way was the difference between professional and amateur. In this country professional, probably because of sports, means you are better than an amateur. That is not the case. I know so many amateur photographers who are simply amazing. They shoot at a degree of proficiency that inspires me to try and be better. Here is the crux, the root of the word amateur is Amore or love. An amateur does whatever it is they do simply for the love of it and to me, that is the purest form of action. Thanks again for all you do, it helps.
Back in the day I shot slides. These were usually projected once, soon after receiving them back from the processing lab. Maybe there was another showing for the family if these were holiday snaps, but after that they stayed safely tucked away in their storage box. So, not so different from our digital creations! I’ve just completed scanning these slides (~10,000), revealing some memorable images. All these are now tucked away with their digital companions!
I often tell people I just fill up hard drive space with my photos. I enjoy taking photos. I enjoy editing my photos. I enjoy learning about photography in general. Someday I may sell photos, but I’m not really interested in the “business” of photography. Good to know I’m not alone.
I am a professional and do portrait work primarily, mixed in with some weddings. Having said that, a large part of my portfolio is made up of pro bono work I do for Canine Companions for Independence. Some images are printed for regional and national advertising, for the website, or for electronic newsletters, but when taking images of graduate teams ( dogs placed with people with a disability) these images are given to the people. I don’t get any feedback from them nor do I want any. My happiness comes from documenting the relationship between the dog and the person. I feel it is a privilege to be able to do what I do and I get great pleasure in the journey. Great article, Matt!
Excellent and spot on. You expressed what I have not been able to.
Thank you for all you do!
I’ve taken many of your courses for which I am thankful to you for your easy to follow and learn teachings. I’ve sold some of my photos and won competitions but never considered myself a professional. Recent hand surgery has given my hands an unsteady focus so I have put my cameras down. Now I relish simply watching the wonders of nature and all the wildlife antics and beauty I used see only through a viewfinder. It’s calming, relaxing and entertaining. Now I spend some time editing and compiling photo books of my traveling adventures for personal and family enjoyment.
Thank you for expressing exactly how I’ve been feeling lately about being perfectly fine with simply watching.
You are so correct, the journey is so often what we enjoy the most. I like to try and take a better shot than the last time. Each shot of a similar subject is like practising to get note-perfect when playing a certain tune. Changing the subject is like picking a new tune to learn. Moving to a different photographic genre (e.g. wildlife to landscape) is like moving from Jazz to Classic or Country; you want to get better at each. Once I have taken a really good shot (IMO) then it gets printed in a book, submitted into a camera club competition or goes online. I think that justifies enjoying the journey!
Thanks for the post. In a way I find it liberating. It eliminates a sense of guilt for not showing photos to the world and verifies the satisfaction I get from the journey. For a short time I posted photos to 500px. It did not provide any real satisfaction. It is one big mutual admiration society. I do print some photos and hang them in my house and I have given some to friends and relatives. Most that I print end up in binders in my cupboard.
Wow, what a great article! A degree in psychology we don’t know about Matt? Exactly questions I struggle with all the time with all of my hobbies to boost. It is not easy to enjoy the journey when you are the kind of person who is focused on tangible results. And then you compare and despair to add salt to injury. I think I have a serious problem with all of this because it limits my ability to enjoy the process. I constantly question the point of it all. – Your post is another important reminder to try to adjust our attitude if we see a problem with it.
Friends & family ask me the same question. Some photos I print. Mostly I share them on Facebook. Many FB friends tell me that they live the journey that I took by looking at my photos online. I enjoy thumbing through my thousands of photos reliving the trip that I took or family times. It is pure joy for me. I wish that I enjoyed the editing process more but I don’t perhaps because I don’t have the patience. I mostly just enjoy the process of taking the photo.
I agree with you about this. Even if I printed out my photos I would rarely look at them. It would mean dragging out the box of photos to trawl through. I would rather click through them on the hard drive. I enjoy the memories and the holiday snaps and seeing the processing I have achieved, with help from your tutorials of course.
I enjoy the creative process and the satisfaction of learning a skill.
Thanks. great article Matt.
Years ago I found an album (yes, vinyl record) called “Slides” done by Richard Harris, the actor. The basic premise is that he is giving a slide show to some of his students and each cut describes part of the story. In one section you hear the projector click and he says “Sunset ” (another click) – “and another sunset. I know this one is undistiguishable from the last….but I remember the difference”.
So it is with my photography – to some, the pictures look the same but I remember what makes them different.
My photography started because of a great photographer friend, who passed 10 years ago. His photos are gone, except for the few prints he gave me and they are precious. As my daughter has grown up and I took endless shots of her, her friends, events, etc. they are becoming cherished, because of COVID and people of all ages passing away. I have those memories (now digitized) and have been able to share them with families that didn’t know they existed, because I had my camera and captured them.
I don’t take photos, just to take them. I have a passion for Seattle street photography and for Veterans of all wars, that I am honored to volunteer and take for Honor Flight. THOSE PHOTOS, of those everyday heroes are what I look at and have great memories of stories shared. That is my passion. It took awhile to figure that out. But that is what I love to look at and share on our website with the families. But they are for me. Thanks, Matt
Well said! You said it: The Joy of photography is not just the image and the perfect print. It’s the story of getting the shot and the memories (and perhaps even bruises) of the experience: the photograph is just the visual aide.
Nicely done… your article made me realize I need to learn and become selfish with my photography journey and to have fun for me and not for others. Great analogy. Thank you for your unselfish way of presenting your tutorials and telling it like it is. Stay safe.
I agree completely.
In my life, I have come to realize that personal enjoyment is more important than what others think or comment. I have 110,000 pics and videos in Lightroom on separate hard drives. I take them to improved my skill, learn from others, meet others feeling the same, and to enjoy.
I love videography, so what I do with pictures is to make movies of trips, people, or things. Yes, they are time consuming, but to me rewarding. I have dozens of movies on the shelf, and yes, they are for me and my family to enjoy.
Wow, I thought I was alone. Thank you for sharing this and I won’t feel guilty anymore when people tell me that I should share my best photos to the world. Don’t get me wrong, I do share some of them but some of the best ones I have lives in my hard drive and/or phone for my enjoyment. I even sell some of my photos. I believe in the “journey” of taking the picture and editing it and enjoying that “journey. By the way, I am an underwater photographer and I guess it also applies to any type of photography.
My husband died of Covid-19 in January. He was a good bird photographer. I have backed up all of his photos and changed his SmugMug site to one I pay for so it will stay live as long as I am alive. There is the big question of what happens to all those wonderful photos out there when people die. I know Facebook is trying to address this, but it will be a huge questions for families. In some cases there are photographs of things that no longer exist and thus are of historical value. What’s to be done?
Excellent article Matt. I have always treasured my photos as a way to learn to better see the world around me, especially the details. I get so much value from downloading and editing, finding what I didn’t notice in the moment, and looking for a way to make my limited skills shine. I love viewing the work of other photographers because I can learn so much from their perspective and editing. But down at the core, your photographs are what you decide them to be – I just finished a series of hummingbird shots that I minimally edited just to get them to how I had seen the with my eyes. But sometimes, I just want to have fun, especially with a rather lifeless photo – to give it some soul – and the editing becomes a journey of excitement and exploration. Thanks for making such honest and affirming statements about thing I love the most – photography.
I’ve been a shutter bug most of my life. My dad inspired me to do art and photography. I am always taking pictures with my phone or my camera. It makes me happy when I see something unusual, beautiful, strange interesting, I seem to have an eye to see things differently than some people and capture it with a camera. I go back and forth between my art and photography. It has helped me survive this pandemic.
Great post. I try to frame my life & photography in the context of Kimo’s Hawaiian Rules. Also, as you say, I would add enjoying the journey, the people I meet and places I see along the way.
Never judge a day by the weather
The best things in life aren’t things
Tell the truth – there’s less to remember
Speak softly and wear a loud shirt
Goals are deceptive – the unaimed arrow never misses
He who dies with the most toys – still dies
Age is relative – when you’re over the hill, you pick up speed
There are two ways to be rich – make more or desire less
Beauty is internal – looks mean nothing
No Rain – No Rainbows
Reading these “rules” made my day. I will try to practice them more often. Great rules to live by. Thank you for sharing.
For me it is primarily “my photographic memory” and that is how I refer to it. It is a way of looking back at an activity from the past and remembering how I enjoyed it and want to do it again. Places that I have been, people I have spent time with, etc…
I have always compared my photography to “Artistic Masterbation”. It is for my self pleasure. If it pleases others, it’s all the better.
I can’t understand why so many people want ‘boundaries and constraints’ in their photography. My other pastime is fishing and I see it there too – most anglers just want a good day out but the ‘hard core’ zealots are always wanting you to conform to a category – competition, trout, salmon, sea, coarse, freshwater, bass, species hunter, trophy hunter, light line etc etc and it seems photography suffers from much the same – only some of the categories vary. Go out and enjoy (covid permitting) taking images, process them as much as you want to, store them however you want, create prints if you wish, enter competitions if that’s your nature – remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so don’t try to confine others within your view of the world.
Matt, another analogy is to choose your own adventure as it is done in some books. It’s a bit like those Hop On Hop Off buses that you see in various places around the world. Embrace the journey and stay as master of your own destiny. I’m getting off at the next stop but click on…
Really enjoyed the revelation in your article. Thanks for that!
Very thoughtful, very self aware. 👍🏼
Excellent article and totally agree. My delight starts with being in nature and discovering an interesting sight, trying to capture what my mind sees then having an wow moment when one of my photos leaves me in awe. Then I double the joy in the post-processing journey…feeling and visioning again. Thank you for your continuing excellence in writing about the process.
Well Matt, you hit the nail on the head. We do this because it’s an activity we enjoy. It enriches our lives. Since I’m older now, I’ve started a family email tradition of Wayback Wednesday for my grown kids whose own kids are grown up. Each Wednesday I send out a half dozen or so pictures from way back there when their kids were small. I’m working my way forward in time. It has been so much fun seeing all the comments they make on that thread. Recently I found a box of old slides from my parents’ time and I’m scanning them in and fixing them up as best I can (hurray for Lightroom and Photoshop). Those will go out on the thread someday soon. These are so old that I don’t remember the events, but I’m so glad to see the pictures. Let’s face it, it’s just plain fun!
I love your idea of Wayback Wednesday. It sounds like a perfect way to share family images in small bites which many people find more enjoyable. And if it sparks conversations and memories, even better. Thank you.
Wow, this is my BAM moment too! Thanks for framing it this way, Matt! I have tens of thousands of images in my Lightroom catalog, of which only a few hundred have been shared on Instagram. I often fret over “what’s the purpose?” if the vast majority of the images are stuck on my computer. Sure I also upload many images to SmugMug, but your blog post has opened my eyes: I now “feel” better knowing that my images are (for the most part) for my own enjoyment, and part of my learning process in my photographic journey.
Love the article … I’ve been involved with different photographic aspects since 1959. I’m not a pro and never have been, but I know quite a bit. The problem with that statement is I have absolutely no idea what I don’t know. I frequent many online sites to browse what others do and what difficulties they face.
I share my photography by teaching others and showing them both the good and the bad from my images. The images I capture aren’t private, but I print very few and share some online. I tend to keep quite a few images that I’m not to happy with because I review them to study what I missed or failed to do. I use these examples as teaching aides in our retirement photo club.
Read it all the way through and nodded my head in agreement all the way through. I love looking at your photos and I love listening/ watching your presentation. I have learned a ton from you. But all the learning, watching, admiring, leads to one thing…….improving my own photography hobby for my own enjoyment. In some respect I compare this hobby to collecting stamps. My father was a stamp collector and had several books filled with stamps from all over. Every once in a while those books would come out and he would sit there admiring each and everyone, flipping pages, and sometimes rearranging them. I find myself doing the same thing with my photos as well. Excellent artcile!
Learning to spell the word “article” should be my next hobby 😉
Speling is overaated.
yeah, get a sprull chucker yawl
Totally agree. My photos are in LR in chronological order. For my enjoyment, I spend hours editing old photos with much improved software. I do share some of my photos with friends and family on my Adobe portfolio. But realistically, I know that not many people view my “fantastic” results. Fortunately, I’m not motivated by people admiring my work, but rather from the enjoyment that I derive from updating mediocre photos and viewing past memories on my large screen. I always save the original unedited photos knowing that I will revisit them in the future with even better editing software. The enjoyment process continues!
I am still a kind of intermediate amateur. But photography has become a consuming part of my daily life. I share some of my photos on social media, and it’s always interesting – and sometimes surprising – to me which ones seem to resonate most – and least – with people. But mostly it’s for the joy of being in nature, capturing a moment in time and space that calls to me, and then the art of editing. And I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard anyone else talk about this, nor have I shared it because it might sound a bit odd, but there is a quality of deep love for the subject of my photos, as if I were their mother, that I often experience in the process of editing and bringing out some particular look as best I can. So I would say that love motivates me a lot in this journey. While editing, there is a silence that often comes over me, a being absorbed in light and color and form and beauty. Sure, there are also many moments of frustration when my vision and technical know-how don’t yet meet, but still, the joy and the love are there underneath.
Thank you for this article and for all that you share with us, Matt.
Oh you’ve hit that fat nail on the head, Matt!! great piece, and thanks for sharing. Only yesterday I was chastising myself for not “doing something” with my photos. Photos are little moments frozen in time. If nothing else, looking at them triggers all that went into the capture, and the joy (ok, maybe a little frustration, too) of the post production work. Isn’t that really enough of a treasure? Thanks for giving me permission to say, “yes”.
Yes yes yes! Sometimes I print, sometimes I make books, sometimes I post or use as screensavers but it really is about seeing, ultimately, and gaining mastery. For fun. Yesterday, spring was at its absolute height in Virginia so I took my camera out to my yard and just enjoyed it. Uploaded to LR and then played around. So satisfying.
This is a great topic, Matt. Color and Dof drew me to photography, and taking a moment in time with me has kept me at it. When I look at my images, I can remember (most of the time) where I was, what the conditions were, and how I felt. I am emotionally attached to my images, so when I share them, I’m sharing a part of me, whether I print them or share them online or mostly just look at them myself. Thank you for your words of wisdom.
+1 to making screensavers… i use them to escape the confined space. Since i am in IT i have the opportunity to put my screensavers on employee computers but i wish there was a way to share them more broadly… while we’re talking about that, how about some MattK screensavers?
Matt – love your photos, love your videos, and this article is spot on. I can’t tell you how many times friends and family members ask me, what do you do with all your photos? My response is usually muffled and incomprehensible. Now I can respond in a much more astute manner. Thank you.
In addition to my computer, I also have 2 digital frames. One has the best of my best and the other has a little bit of everything. And oh the memories when different pictures come up. People don’t understand why I don’t have a website or post on social media. Like you Matt, it’s not for them, but for my pleasure.
When someone asks me about my photography I often answer that “I am just a little bit obsessed with nature Photography”
Thanks Matt, that was a very interesting view… one that I mostly share. I really love getting outside into wild places and living in Colorado gives me ample opportunity to do that. While out there, I take photos. I am not a great photographer, I don’t have a great eye, and I don’t have the best equipment but I always come back with a few keepers. I enjoy editing them to turn them into the best I can. Then I put them up on my screen saver and enjoy them all over again. Not so may years ago I took a Alaskan cruise. While on the cruise, I took a Brown Bear excursion and took around 1000 photos. It was a challenge at best but I came away with about 30 photos that were pretty darn good…. at least for me. While I will never get back to Alaska, I have put those Brown Bear photos up on my screen saver and enjoy them many times. I have shared them with friends and family but mostly they are for me. Thank You!
I agree even though we print some out for our moderately sized photo gallery and I make some side shows with music to use as background when we have friends over. However, I spend much more time editing and re-editing photos that I like which were taken over the past 30 years. I get great satisfaction from looking at them and remembering the story that goes with them.
Your thoughts are what I’ve tried to explain to family and friends for years. It’s all about the process….the location, getting lucky with good light, finding unexpected great surprises , and yes even getting discouraged. Processing is really where my vision at capture comes alive. I print…for myself and family and friends.
Well-it’s interesting. Not long ago I truly wanted to go to Iceland on a photo workshop. I read that its so crowded with photographers they are stepping over each other. And, when I’m back-what would I do with the photos. Share a few and keep the rest in my Lightroom directory. Better to go somewhere for the experience of being there, rather than to collect photos.
Thanks Matt. I came to the realization a while ago that my favourite part of photography is taking and editing the images. I wondered to myself if that was good enough. You just answered that question and validated it for me. I do post on Facebook and Instagram and sell images from time to time, but I’m really hooked on the “taking pictures “ part. I always say that photography saved my life. It gets me out of the house in good weather and bad. I get exercise and have fun doing it.
What a great blog, Matt! You verbalized this topic so well and I agree wholeheartedly. My enjoyment comes from the journey in photography. After getting into photography in 2011, I find I look at the world differently. I now notice light, textures, shadows, shapes, and so forth. I once thought I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Then I discovered editing photos. I enjoy sitting at my computer and making my images come alive. My husband and I share this hobby and have printed our photos and placed them on walls around the house. I have two monitors and have a slide show of my better images constantly playing on the second monitor. It is so much fun to relive these moments. Thank you for an excellent insight into the power of photography.
Aaaaah Matt you wise wise man! Thanks for pointing this truth out to me. This is reasonating hard! 😀
I have limited wall space so I don’t print many, but I do share them on Facebook and Instagram.
I share them publicly to get feedback, either pro or con is welcome. That’s how I learn. When someone makes a comment, I consider their remarks. Some I toss aside and some I take to heart and rework the image.
I will tell you if you want to really get better on a musical instrument, play publicly and do it as much as you can. Nothing will motivate you to become a better player than screwing up in front of an audience! Humiliation is the best motivation.
While I do appreciate the joy in photography for photography’s sake, as well as post production work to attempt creation of a “defining” image, there is a reality for some of us that we can just call “business”. I would love just sitting back and enjoying my handiwork alone, but my tax man expects to see an income stream in order to validate my business. Just my two cents. Peace.
Thats exactly how I feel. I can spend hours, sometimes days, revisiting old shoots and the memories are there, as sharp as ever. I do enjoy competitions and discussing images with others but at the ned of the day I do it for me.
Boy did THAT hit home and at just the right time. Virtually all of my traditional camera gear is gone – only an infrared camera with one lens remains. In place of a body and three lenses I now own an iPhone with three camera lenses: 13,26 and 65mm equivalents. Four special camera apps have been added that provide the opportunity to do some unique things that normally took too much time with the old system. Suddenly, I am having fun with a craft that once was “work” and that’s the point, isn’t it? If it ain’t fun why do it? Thank you for validating feelings that, at times, have been confusing.
Many very good points, Matt. You summarized so well why I take photos.
One way I’ve been able to enhance my joy in photography is to share my trips as travelogues. Zoom has made this incredibly easy, and plenty of libraries are eager to have such programs to offer. Although I’m happy to share the bigger trips to Europe or Down Under, I’m equally delighted to share experiences, such as doing the Steinway factory tour in Queens or taking photos of Audrey Munson statues in NY (Google her if you’re curious). My travelogues generate a lot of discussion after, often with people who have been to the places I have and are eager to share their enthusiasm… or people who are planning a trip…all win wins!
During COVID, I created weekday “Armchair Tourist” collages of my trips, which were much appreciated by nursing home staff. Residents looked forward to a new installment each day. I chose 4 or 5 images per collage and added captions. I realized at the end of it (when I ran out of trips!), that I could easily assemble them into a printed book to enjoy as well.
Matt you nailed it with this article! I was reading this and this is me! Twenty years in the military was a photographer, numerous years as a wedding photographer for a studio, and finally 24 years as a corporate photographer for Ford Motor I lost my way always providing images for someone else. When I started to relax and start enjoying shooting for myself and what I wanted and how I wanted people asked me too what I was going to do with my images. Like you I’m not selling. I do give some to my family, but I shoot because I want to and I enjoy the challenges, the peace and quiet and the occasional get together with other photographers. Thanks for an excellent article!
Excellent piece! It brought a lot of clarity to why I love to play with a camera, do a shoot, and edit, just for the pure joy and sharing with family and friends.
This article is very comforting because as an amateur, I, too, just enjoy taking photos and editing them, and have felt that I wasn’t doing enough by not posting them or putting them in shows or selling them. In fact, some of the joy of photography has diminished since I started putting my photos in shows (all local). Thanks for writing this.
I just spent a week at the Oregon coast and have taken many pictures like usual. I’ve packed my gear up and down trails, fretted over compositions and now have downloaded them. I’ve done a quick review of what I’ve gotten and now I’ll probably never look at them again because I hate editing. Even if it only takes me a minute per shot, I just won’t make a time and they’ll just sit forever on my hard drives. Seems kind of sad and I suppose it is a little. But I’m not totally disappointed because I had a good time taking the photos and really absorbing the scenery. I also got the chance to spend a little time teaching my daughter about photography and I think she enjoyed it. I’ve got thousands of photos that need to be sorted/processed and shared but I don’t see it happening any time soon. Maybe something for when I retire or for a future generation to discover. I don’t know if this is the best way to enjoy this hobby but it does give me some entertainment.
Very nice, Matt.
I love it when you “come clean” about photography topics. It makes me feel more secure about the fact that I seldom printing anything. I have zero interest in printing at home – spending the money and time on top-notch printers, lots of ink, and great paper. If I have something printed I’ll send it out. Even Walgreen’s is fine for much of what I choose to print.
I do, however, enjoy sharing photos in book form (usually Shutterfly) for my family. I do like the idea of preparing a coffee table book with favorite images and the story behind them. I just need to make that happen.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and talent.
A real “Satori”, a moment of definitive enlightenment. Congrats Matt!
Right on! Thanks for sharing!
Have you thought of creating a business in which you would be sent pictures from your Subscribers and you explain to then what you think can be done to make the better right out of the camera…then how they might treat a photograph in post to get the desired effect? Obviously, you would charge a fee…based on an average for each person who sends in a picture for you to evaluate. You may even have s “subscription” fee to your clientele. The metadata in the pictures sent should be included so you can judge how the picture was shot…i.e. Sony 7Rii, lens, focal length, time and date, shutter speed, etc.
I have attended many of your seminars in Photoshop World and thought you to be the best instructor (staff). Jim diVitale was better in his fast and furious conversions. Jim was a friend of mine.
Oh…the answer to the question on the owl picture…Why? is…
Interesting article Matt. Yesterday, I revisited a series of snow drift images I captured 3 years ago. I’d processed them in colour. This time, I re-edited them as high key B&W images and gained a whole new perspective/vision for how to see those images. And, as a bonus, I felt like I was back in the snow capturing those images all over again only this time I saw a different result in my mind’s eye. I’ll be selecting a few of them for prints. Who knows, I may even frame one and hang it on a wall. As an aside, I cycle. I used to be very competitive. Now, being older, I cycle for the pure physical pleasure of a solo ride out in the country side in the fresh air. I simply enjoy the physicality of the cycling process.
I agree. My photography is for me, but it’s nice when others appreciate ones work. For me, the print is everything. It is tangible. It exists. Otherwise, images are ephemeral and exist only on a monitor or projector for brief moments. Otherwise, for 99.9% of the time they are simply a spreadsheet of numbers.
Well said, Roger. You captured the essence of photography that persists from its origins to today’s digital versions where it should be all about the print or some way of displaying the photograph that you (and sometimes others) can view even when the computer is shut off.
Roger and Stan. I’m all for printing as well. I do it often and talk about it often. The That said, just know that printing may be the “essence” of photography… for you. But that doesn’t mean it has to be for everyone. And honestly, why can’t it be a bit of both the print and enjoying your photos on your own?
Photography is my therapy. When I’m at wits end, stressed, nervous, or just plain feeling crappy, I know what to do. I grab my camera go shoot something, anything and spend time with the composition. While I am doing that, all problems just completely disappear. I am elated driving home and looking forward to the whole editing journey, which can surprise me with something I didn’t originally see when taking the shot, like a bug in a flower…it’s awesome. Sometimes I share my favorite images, but mostly I just simply enjoy them.
Matt, thanks for validating us and our love of the photographic process.
You said that perfectly Matt. Some other reasons I do it: it’s like a game or a sport. Sometimes when the action is intense or the target difficult it’s like being inside a video game. It also stirs me creatively, trying to see things differently than the eye ordinarily sees them. Last, it gets me out in nature and out of my wife’s hair.
This almost sounds like a ban on prints somehow! I love seeing all my images displayed on the walls of my home! I shoot for personal satisfaction and admit to being a retired commercial photographer and Lab owner! But the enjoyment of displaying my imagery on the wall without going to my phone or computer is immense and I will always have a wall replete with many Canvas prints in large sizes that remind me of things from my past! At 80 years of age memories are important to me and having to turn on some device to go down memory lane can be frustrating. Thus just looking at my surrounding wall decor gives me pleasure in an ongoing sense. I love to process old files and am always looking for new images to display! Visiting friends always have comments as they visit my home!
Agree Robert H Carney. Why follow Matt at all if you’re not going to ultimately learn how to make images for the wall (yours or someone else’s)? That’s the goal. Each photographer should know who and where to get their images printed, how to size them for the printer, and what paper will serve the image best. Also the best frames, and where to get those. I, actually, sometimes buy frames when I see a good deal or something I like. Then I shoot for the frame.
Sorry Matt, but this article does a disservice to your loyal followers.
I didn’t realize that I enjoy going out and challenge myself to get the right composition just right. Being out with friends in a group and see how their composition eye is different than mine. I enjoy going over the images and than pick a few to process and try out new processing techniques.
I do print the best photos and have them hanging on a wall. I do a lot of gallery wraps. I have a lot of my prints hanging in a gym where I workout, also in a Doctors office and where I go for physical therapy. It makes me feel good that other people enjoy my photos. I sell a few and I give some away to people that I know that enjoy my photos.
I have a lot money tied up in equipment that I will not ever get back. For me it is the experience that I enjoy more than anything else.
Thank you Matt for making think about why I enjoy photography.
I totally disagree. I think you can only speak for yourself, not everybody who follows Matt. From most of the comments here I’d say he obviously struck a chord with many, including myself.
Hi Robert. Didn’t I write in the article that I hope everyone has some degree of permanence to their photography? In what way did I ban printing. But to say that printing is the ONLY way to enjoy photography is incorrect. I only have so much space in my home for prints. And my wife and family aren’t likely to let me hang that photo of two birds ripping apart a bloody fish. I have hundreds upon hundreds of wildlife photos that I find “interesting” in some way. It was rewarding to capture, but that doesn’t mean there’s a place (or the space) for those hundreds of photos on my wall.
That said, I’m all for some one disagreeing and thank you for putting it in the way you did.
Rob Tillitz on the other hand… why isn’t it enough to simply write “I disagree” and explain why. It’s sad that in today’s world, you feel the need to finish your comment by saying that my opinion is doing a disservice. It’s obviously the way I feel and by the looks of it hundreds of others feel the same. Disagree all you want… but you can’t tell us we’re wrong because you don’t feel that way.
Always a pleasure to read you!
Yeah….but! I think everyone should spend a bit of effort printing. What do you do if a close friend or loved one tells you they would give anything to have a particular image of yours on the wall? In my case, and as I grow older, my son cannot get enough of my images. I spend several hundred dollars on each print…nothing but the best for him, archival everything.
I get Matt’s point, but believe we do a disservice to ourselves and loved ones if we don’t finish the job. Moreover, when one has a print on the wall in mind when shooting and editing, the image tends to come out more professional. After all, the golfer keeps each score, and the guitar player often records the songs.
Well said Matt. Very few people ever see my photos aside from the few prints on my living room wall. The remainder take up storage space on my computer. The reason is simple, my photography hobby is for my pleasure not for others. I get a rush when an image turns out the way I think it should. When that occasionally happens it might make it to the living room wall.
I have a few prints on the wall, but what I really enjoy are digital photo frames. Sometimes I just sit and watch the slideshow for 10 to twenty minutes, remembering places I’ve been and animals I’ve seen. Nothing against prints, but they become part of the room, and stop registering.
Anyhow, I want the very best photos I can make. They don’t go online, they’re just for enjoying the memories.
You hit the nail on the head with that one!!
A very brave admission Matt!
In the past I felt the struggle and inner turmoil of believing to be an artist and exceptional photographer meant that I had to and must be successful in the gallery / exhibition / publication / sales world to be considered valid. People ask, what do you do? I am an artist photographer. Oh! What do you do with your photography? Long pause of silence followed by some brief stammering response and change of subject.
I do now and again submit my work and get accepted into shows but I have found it unfulfilling and not worth the cost in time and money with the dejection that follows if a piece doesn’t sell. I have long gotten over that though.
Since before COVID though, when asked “What do you do with your photography?” I simply reply, “Nothing really…” and then enjoy an often bewildered look from the questioner.
You are right Matt, It’s all good.
Great insight Matt, I enjoy getting outside and taking the pictures and enjoy the process I go through on my computer making that photo mine. I do have over seventy of my photos displayed in our home that I enjoy seeing daily. When I see them, I often remember the place they were taken and the enjoyment of the trip if they were taken in some special place (like Costa Rico with you).
I do sell enough to cover my paper and ink costs, but I think I enjoy the process as much as the result. I also giving several away each year to make other happy too.
An interesting read Matt. You put into words many of my thoughts and feelings. I really enjoy following your blogs etc as it inspires me to be a better photographer. Thank you.
Matt, really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and feeling. I agree with you. How do you respond to someone who keeps telling you…. “you are not experiencing the moment” when you are behind a camera? Yes, in a group social family event I may not be engaged in conversation but I feel capturing special moments for a lifetime is more engaging.
Absolutely true – especially now during the Covid months. I am reprocessing older images and grateful that current tools allow me to improve on my previous efforts (good thing I’ve always shot RAW).
I spend hours in front of the computer editing and going through the thousands of photos I’ve taken, especially enjoying travel memories, when the haste of moving along denies you sufficient time to allow the sights to sink in.
Great blog post! One of the reasons I follow you is that we think alike. I showed this to a non-photographer friend (and my biggest fan) because you eloquently expressed exactly how I feel. The lightbulb went off. No more pressure to do a website, get my name out there or sell more photos. I do post on FB and Instagram and yes I compete in my camera club and some exhibits but that represents a minuscule portion of my portfolio. I like the journey and feel photography feeds my need to be creative…for myself and not others. Thank you.
Yep. You nailed it b
An excellent piece! I love the definition that photography is the art of seeing. I find it to be a way be connected to our natural world. And that has provided a form of healing on so many levels—physically, since I’m out moving and soaking up vitamin D; emotionally, since I find beauty and inspiration behind the lens; and spiritually, since it connects me to a higher presence. Mentally, I find clarity in thinking, and in the editing process, I keep my mental faculties sharp as I learn something new every day (thanks to your excellent courses!).
Wow, I finally feel vindicated that I’m not crazy after all, I am a member of a camera club and occasionally share a few images on Zoom meetings when they make a request of members but joined to meet people that have common interests and love the Art of Photography. I do not use social media, maybe entered 2 photo contest in my life and lately have felt at odds when people say, do you share your photo’s, where can I see them and I reply ” I don’t use social media, I do it for myself and sometimes make a print or give one as a gift”, glad to know there are more people like me than I ever imagined. Thought about selling prints seriously but decided I want to spend my time taking images and enjoying the outdoors not stuck processing orders (If I was lucky enough) I feel I wouldn’t enjoy photography as much if I thought every picture was about making money . I have made a few books for myself that my kids will have some day. Great Blog, Thank you.
Thanks for the validation of just enjoying the process and not being overly concerned with getting the work “out there.” My spouse is always encouraging me to print and sell my photos at art fairs, etc. It occurred to me that when my photography becomes all about monetizing it, it turns it into a product, and turns it into work. Seems like a quick way to kill the joy.
Thanks, I needed this. I have slowed down my taking photos because I tried sales (didn’t work) and have no one who will want them when I pass. I do enjoy the process of capture, edit and viewing. I feel much better now.
I too do this for my own enjoyment, I have my TV driven by one of my computers and it’s always on in screensaver slide show
mode with a random 1 minuet duration, When I finish a new photo in it goes to my screensaver folder. The only way most other people will see them is if they come to the house and see them flash up on the TV. Then I can proudly say I took every picture you see come up on that TV screen. Thanks for letting me know there are others doing the same.
I’m curious as to what players inspired you to play guitar yourself?
I’ve noticed that quite a few photographers also have a knowledge of music in one form or another. Eg., Amstel Adams was a classical pianist. I’ve often wondered if preferences in genres of music align with preferences in types of photos. Jazz & blues aligning with ‘moody monochromes’, etc.
Any way, thanks for all that you give. I always enjoy reading your insights.
I grew up in late 70s and 80s so Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes, Richie Sambora, Steve via, Joe Satriani, were a few of my favorite.
Setting the bar pretty high.
’50’s and ’60’s for me, but Eddie Van Halen is the overlap. I think he was brilliant and got some magical sounds from his various instruments.
This blog about what to do with photographs sure got some traction. Wow!
that covers most of what I call the zen of photography.
Having being a hobbyist and a tutor in photography since the days of Cibacrome (remember?) and earlier I have never published anything with the exception of short periods of replacing photographers in newspaprers and a theather in the early days. The gretest joy comes pushing my limits while retouching my photos anew. Just today I reworked two pictures from my Camino Santiago (¡recommended to all interested in photography!) in 2012! My gear is far from the top: my best camera is still Sony a850 but that is not the point. The point is the moment, and the time after that.
Why spoil a good hobby by going pro.
Anyway, here’s to you, cheers!
Great blog and if I may venture the whole process of capturing one image often starts in your mind way before you actually take the image for example take travel photography. The planning of the journey to the location all needs to be pre planned and is part of the photographic process through to the post processing in LrC and Ps. Long may this very fruitful experience continue to motivate us all. Keep on visualising my friends….
I’m with you all the way, Matt! I’ve sold some of my landscapes, shot weddings and portraits. Am I a pro? Not in my eyes. I’m 70 years old and I still enjoy the challenge of getting the best scenics, animals and landscapes as best I can and learning more in the process each time. Editing for me is headphones on with music loud and usually lasts for several hours at a time. For what? The why is answered by each time I turn on some music and just enjoy the pictures while recalling the journey.
Well, Matt, you did it again! You put into plain and simple words what has been in my mind. If I had a dollar for everyone who has asked, “So, what do you do with all those photos?”, I could buy even newer gear and take more photo trips! I enjoy the journey, literally and figuratively. Travel is my excuse for photography, or is photography is my excuse for traveling? Does it matter? Working on my family history is an excuse for traveling to see people and places and of course all of that must be photographed. And, then there are the old family photos that need tweaking and sharing. Hours can go by while I’m happily post-processing & researching and reliving experiences from all over the world. I’ve printed some of my photos for our walls and for gifts; I’ve done family history books with hundreds of photos for family, a few get shared on social media. I don’t golf or play tennis (tried both – no joy); I don’t play a musical instrument (tone-deaf, you know), but tell me about a wildlife photo op and I’m there (or a cool update to LR or PS and I’m at the computer).
What Dianne said – DITTO!
Thanks Matt, as others have said, a great article. The response of “I enjoy the process” is so spot on. Others don’t have the same appreciation of it, but I rejoice in knowing that others do.
Matt, loved that you wrote this, it is spot on. Just being outdoors, observing and listening to the wildlife and maybe capturing a photo or two is just about perfect. I enjoy the whole process, from taking the photo to editing. Then reliving the moment while scrolling through the photos. You taught me a different dimension to editing with your courses! Thank you and keep it coming!
Agree….but! I think everyone should spend a bit of effort printing. What do you do if a close friend or loved one tells you they would give anything to have a particular image of yours on the wall? In my case, and as I grow older, my son cannot get enough of my images. I spend several hundred dollars on each print…nothing but the best for him, archival everything.
I get Matt’s point, but believe we do a disservice to ourselves and loved ones if we don’t finish the job. Moreover, when one has a print on the wall in mind when shooting and editing, the image tends to come out more professional. After all, the golfer keeps each score, and the guitar player often records the songs.
I get your point, Rob, and I do print my own photos at home. I disagree, however, that everyone must print. That is like telling the golf duffer that instead of just playing the muni course with his buddies on the weekend, he must enter the club tournaments. I prefer not to be in the position of telling others how to enjoy their avocations; let’s just be glad that they have found and practice something they enjoy in their own way.
Janie – So true. Everyone should be able to enjoy their approach to photography without someone else saying they “need to do this, that or the other”.
Thank you, Matt! I love the journey, especially searching for a unique image in nature. Due to covid I’ve had the time to learn more post-processing skills and now really enjoy that creativity. Therefore, my photography includes both physical and mental exercise. I will no longer feel guilty about all my stored photos and will use your instrument analogy next time I hear “What do you do with your photos?”.
I think your article touched many of us the same. I know it touch me and thank you for a great article
Agree! And this morning watching other photographers at Ft DeSoto North Beach, I realized their total engagement is also a part of my joy in the wildlife experience. Thanks for taking the pressure off post capture.
Matt, so nice to find I am not alone. I have friends urging me to publish books of my pictures – and my response is: I’ll take the photos – you market the books. Funny how they back off. I feel it’s like asking a really good game designer to be the bookkeeper, too. No thank you.
In concert with those who refrain from competitions – I’ve always felt I “should” to improve my craft, except that competitions are to please the judges, not myself. When I retired, since I love Disneyland and spend much time there (when annual passes worked) just people watching and scoping out the details that many people overlook in their rush to get “to the next ride”; I was told I MUST become a Disneyland Photopass Photographer and take pictures of people and their children in all sorts of cutesy poses. WHY WOULD I DO THAT? Why would I take what I love and make it a job?
So thanks for letting me know I’m not alone nor am I un-sane or weird.
Thanks for another excellent thought provoking article. Your summary paragraph is right on target. The journey, the planning and preparation, the stops along the way, the total immersion, the editing, the printing, the sharing, the reflecting on the keepers and the memories makes photography a great experience for me. I love to print and share my great photographs so that others can se what I saw and feel the enjoyment.
A very interesting philosophic take on photography. There is only one thing I disagree with. Photography is more than the art of seeing – it is one of the WAYS of seeing. What the camera captures is always already there. It’s just that we humans are blind to it, unless we expose it to our vision using a camera, a paintbrush or some other medium.
Thank you,Thank you, Thank you……this is the first time I have read an article that spoke to me so directly and made me finally NOT feel guilty for loving the photography, editing and personal viewing of my pictures on my computer with out any other reason than my own enjoyment.
Yes, there are pictures I show to others, print and share but my sole purpose is the pure joy I feel from the whole process ,start to finish. Disappointments and all.
It’s for the memories it’s a way to capture the history of our family so others can share for future generations.
I print print my favorites and hang them on my wall and they brighten my day
Three years ago I lost my 23-year-old grandson to suicide and I think God every day that I have 100s of pictures for those 23 years – it’s for the memories!!
So different for me.
My photography, like my guitar playing, is my way of communicating with the world around me. I show my photos to people as a way to share my feelings and to make them feel something. Hopefully happiness.
I play for people as a way to have something in common with them.
I enjoy my photos, sure. But if they only stay on my computer, then I have not used them to find common ground with others.
Excellent paper Matt !!! … A real hit in the Bull’s Eye !!! … Because the majority of photographers do what you did mention: Enjoy photography results … But … Mostly enjoy the journey into getting them !!! … Take care … Be safe … Best wishes !!! …
Spot on Matt.
Matt, what a way to hit it out of the park!! With age sometimes comes wisdom!
I have two passions; photography and Tennis. As a senior (65+) both of these are not to show anyone else or to gain anyone’s approval. Both… are a subtle road to staying healthy, mentally and physically. As many have said here, it is the being outdoors, enjoying the world around me. I feel better knowing I have accomplished something. Learning to lose gracefully is as important as winning! As you have defined in this epiphany, I enjoy the “process” of learning how in post processing, and I enjoy the learning how to play tennis better. For as long as I can I will do both and enjoy the “how”.
This is definitely how I look at the process of photography and what I ultimately get out of the final image. I have said for years that I don’t necessarily take pictures to share with others but instead it is a form of “meditation” a way of interacting with my “subject”… getting lost in it. I take my camera with me in order to interact with what I see on a deeper level — finding details I would never see if I just glossed over it. Then I get to do the same, but in a different form when I revisit that image on my computer. Photography is so much more than just taking the picture!
Well said. Thanks, Matt.
Thank you Matt! Best blog I’ve read in a long time. The act of going out with my camera – iPhone lately – and taking photographs that appeal to me, then looking through them, selecting which to edit, and seeing the final version is very satisfying. I used to be a member of a camera club that held monthly competitions and competed with other clubs, I found I was taking photos for competitions rather for my own pleasure. So thank you once again!
Well said, Matt. I really enjoy the technical process of digital photography, and you have validated that approach for me.
Having said that, I think you sell *yourself* short with your photography. You said that you are not a pro, but I suggest that a big part of your photography is getting good at the technical stuff so you can produce excellent blogs and videos to impart knowledge to “the unwashed masses” (tongue firmly in cheek). Perhaps that does not meet the traditional definition of being a professional photographer, but it seems like a professional activity to me. Thanks for all you do.
Thanks Matt. I thought I was the only one. I get asked that question a lot. I usually answer that they sit on a hard drive. When I tell them I make and edit photos for the enjoyment they just give a look like I said something crazy. When stock was profitable there was always pressure to produce. Not the pressure is off, I’m retired, and photography is fun again.
I totally agree. This is exactly how I think about the topic. I have often said , I’m glad I’m not a pro because I don’t think I would enjoy photography as much. I have no pressure to produce images to sell, only to try to produce images I love, and hope others do too.
A photo reminds us of moments in time that would otherwise be lost
You described me perfectly.
A great article and mirrors my thoughts. I am an amateur photographer of some 40+ years standing, and have been editing my images for that many years as well.
I photograph and edit for MY enjoyment and hardly ever share the final product.
What do I do with the keepers? I show them on a digital Photo Frame, located in our study. Now and then a random image catches my eye and takes me back to reminisce about the time and place I shot that particular image.
Only I know why I shot a particular image. Ultimately, for me, that’s the most important thing.
Thank you Matt. Struck a chord. I needed that.
I’m with you Matt. I feel the same way. I really enjoyed editing but work got in the way and I keep intending to start learning again but I really enjoy watching my photos on the computer screen. I also play music and now am doing it just for my own enjoyment. I did play professionally for 17yrs. which was a long time ago. I get lost in it just like photo editing. I have some of your courses and just need to get back to re-learning and using them. Mary
I always enjoy your comments and insight.
What you said above, truly resonates.
The joy of photography is simply, the doing of it.
It’s being fully there, with the camera and then with the computer.
It’s our way of being in the zone.
Well said matt! I think you just summed up photography for 95-98% of all the photographers out there.
I am convinced that, if Mr. Adms were alive today, he would say that there are two quite different ways of enjoying the final product – screen and print, and he would have been an expert in the differences. Vincent Van Gogh was a pinter because he didn’t have a choice. If you explore his work it is clear that he painted the same subject many times in many ways – almost looking for the “perfect” picture of a sunflower, or a pair of shoes, or himself. The idea of not “doing something” with your photographs misses the whole point.
Photography for me has always the journey of going to the place, photographing the place, developing ( editing) what I captured and then enjoying that journey over and over.
Being an Engineer by education and profession, the technical aspects of photography and editing helps keep my mind challenged in retirement.
I did enter a competition once, only once, won a ribbon and never had interest to do so again.
I use to print my images but decided creating books with the stories of the images more enjoyable.
I do post to Instagram and enjoy the feed back but in the end I just enjoy the journey.
Absolutely! Of the tens of thousands (maybe more!) images on my computer, very few actually see the “light of day”. When I am out shooting there is a certain exhilaration in the captures and anticipation of what they will look like on my monitor while my mind calculates the possible avenues of editing. THIS is what it is all about for me. Like any other passion, it consumes the mind and fires up the imagination.
Interesting point but I think that enjoyment and beauty has multiple inputs other than just you looking at your own work. It is necessary for a serious artist but showing your work to others feeds into the same rewarding brain circuits. So I see it as a balance between the two – don’t be attached to either but explore how both impact your work.
Boy did you ever nail it. I have so often been told that I should sell my photos but there is no way I will do this. I love the entire process of photography and my pictures are for me. I might share them with family or friends but only if they ask. What I do though from time to time is make books out of my photos. I am not so young anymore and want to be able to leave a legacy to my children and grandchildren. That way, if they cannot access my computer, they will have a momento of what I loved to do.
Thank you, that is a great validation of exactly what I do. I drive for hours in the country looking for photographic moments. If I really Feel It after editing I share, but it’s totally the journey!!
I do play golf and just wish I could play guitar… lol
-and that’s the truth. I do print some of my photos but the process is what brings me joy and satisfaction. Personally love to go on my photos journeys by myself and enjoy the whole process of editing. It is my choice of creative outlet.
I use my pics as screensavers a lot of times and have my coffee enjoying the photos.
Matt, that may have been the most important blog post you have ever written. It gives validation to all us who have been asked why we go on so many photo trips but never do anything with our photos. I no longer need to feel guilty if I don’t publish my photos on social media or try to sell my photos. Thank you.
Matt, I am with you and agree that I too enjoy the challenge of photography, be it taking photos of challenging subjects or the challenge of editing. My family helped me take the joy of looking at my photos beyond just me looking at them on my computer…they bought me a digital frame that is connected to the internet. The way it works is I upload my favorites to the Meural website then it wakes up each day and starts displaying my work on a 16 x 20 in frame. Pictures are timed to display for 10-15 seconds and the frame is located in a hallway visible from various parts of the house so I and others can enjoy looking at what makes me happy. It is often a conversation piece whenever people come by for a visit. I add captions to each photo to enhance the joy of viewing so others know something about what they are looking at or where it was taken.
Thank you Matt for helping me not feel like I’m wasting my time enjoying photography because it’s frequently just for me.
As I read this Matt, I thought about my wife. She makes cards and other paper crafts and loves doing that, but sometimes she feels guilty making things but no one wants them or appreciates the time she spent crafting.
Same thing….. it’s ok to do it because we enjoy doing it even if no one else sees the result.
Really good BLOG Matt! I do all the things you mentioned. But, also have made several photo books. The reason for that is that the photos are now hidden on our HD and the negatives are hidden in a drawer and very very seldom do we see them. But a book you can put on a table for everyone to leave through. Be it family members friends or visitors.
Just a thought.
Good post Matt and so relevant. I have often had the same thoughts! But I do publish ones that I feel are special on social media. Many of my friends, most of whom either don’t want to or maybe don’t have the time to travel enjoy seeing the world through my lens. I’ve actually had people tell me that! And that makes me feel wonderful to share nature, travel and my adventures with others.
Thank you for stating this so eloquently.
Thank you so much! Sometimes I think I’m such an oddball because I just like to shoot and edit for the fun of it most of the time. I spent several years taking photo classes for fun at our local community college, and bumbled onto a photography degree after I’d taken everything they offered. That was never my goal, but as soon as I received it people wanted to know when I’d be starting a business. But I don’t want the hassles of marketing myself and running a business. I just like to do the photography. Yes, it’s an expensive hobby and I’m not making it pay for itself. But other people have expensive hobbies just because they enjoy them, and this is mine. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone!
spot on, Matt
Have you been reading my mind Matt? I don’t play a musical Instrument but I do play golf (badly) and take photos (many) but I’ve never played in a tournament and, although I share some of my favourite photos on Instagram, I rarely print and never enter competitions. I just enjoy editing and looking at my work on my computer. Thanks for the validation.
Loved this answer!! I’ve often wondered too “What do I do with the photos after I take them? Why am I taking them? I enjoy it but then what? What do others do with their photos?” This really helps cull those thoughts into an answer. I am an amateur musician. Yes, I perform (in the “before time” pre-Covid). I don’t do it to perform, I do it to share it with others. Photography too. Thanks for this. It really did make a difference for me.
You mean I’m not alone??!!
You have nailed just how I feel about taking photos.
Thank you Matt for coming clean. Like you, I love photography, and share pieces of my work with people I love. I have entered competitions, but really just plain love taking photos and enjoying them with my family and close friends. Your courses have given me another avenue to work with and enjoy my photos. Life is too short to not enjoy what you love.
I have also had a few books of my photos printed but I hate to say it, I rarely look at them. My enjoyment comes from looking at the photos on my laptop and often reworking them in some way with some new knowledge I have obtained over time. Editing and using textures for backgrounds is my idea of art and what I enjoy most besides taking the photos. Thanks, Matt, for all you have taught me and for understanding my pleasure of just looking at and playing with the photos I don’t post.
My thoughts, exactly.
I loved the smell that came off a roll of film as you were loading it into the camera. I loved the smell of the chemicals in the dark room. I still love playing with a camera and how it feels in my hands.
As for taking pictures, there was the art school next to the engineering school and I chose the latter. We used to have two opposite colours. One was black and one was white.
My sincere thanks, Matt, for echoing what many of us have been saying (and thinking) for years. Welcome to the club!
Great post! I had already come to the conclusion that photography gives me a reason to travel, and not vice versa. It gives me something to focus on when out in the world, and allows me to relive the trip in many ways for years afterward. Now I can stop feeling guilty about not printing more!
My sincere thanks for echoing what many of us have been saying (and thinking) for years. Welcome to the club!
Hi Matt, I think like you that most people enjoy the journey and don’t worry about the destination.
I personally love prints, although the vast majority of my images never get to that point.
Most importantly for me is the act of photography including seeing the image, capturing the image and maximizing its potential.
Photography is something that allows me to escape and leave all other thoughts, worries, life situations etc., in another place and time, and gives me some peace.
Thanks for your thoughts.
Thanks Matt! I am guilty of asking you that queestion myself. Appreciate the honesty. One question…when are we golfing?
Thank you Matt ! I feel better now, because I’ve had the same question asked of me. “What do you do with all your photos?” My answer is “well I hope to sell them but I usually just give them away.” I do put some on Facebook and I also have a website but unfortunately I’m strictly an amateur! Like you I just spend hours editing, and viewing my photos and I enjoy that.
What you wrote is like I’m talking with a good friend. Thanks for saying out loud.
I get the most out of your tutorials, YouTube or where ever it is that you show up. Keep up your good work and I’ll eventually get to all of your programs as a learner of this great media, photography.
I get the same sense of satisfaction with my photography. I am a wedding photographer, and my favorite part of the whole process is the editing and seeing what I can create with the images. I’m also an oil painter and I get the same sense of satisfaction from editing photos as I do from painting on a canvas.
You know Matt, what you have said is so me. I love taking photos that please me – when I get it right – and I will re-shoot them until I do. I also love revisiting past images and reprocessing them with new found skills in LR and PS. I don’t need to print them to do that.
I have been asked by non-photography friends and acquaintances what I do with them, and you have given me the perfect response.
Absolutely brilliant! You summarized exactly my own approach to photography. I can’t tell you how many times I have spent hours out in the field trying to capture birds in flight or a breathtaking sunset or majestic panorama with not a soul in site. Just enjoying the experience and then going back to my computer spending hours culling and editing to eventually arrive at a small number of photos that I am truly proud of. No one else may ever even see them, but the process ws extremely rewarding.
Excellent thoughts !
I loved reading this, that just about sums up what I do with my photos! As I live in South Africa, I like to show people the beauty of my surroundings. I share some photos daily on a website, but that is about all. Thanks for this great and informative article, I love what you do 😊
Excellent article. I feel the same way about my photography. I enjoy the entire process and love looking at some of my nicer results. I also enjoy the fact that after many years I have finally assembled a collection of gear and software that makes the process much more reliable.