Recently I was visiting one of the online photography forum’s and was reading through some of the topics and reply’s. The question was asked: “Why are you a nature photographer?” This was a nature photography forum but I want to be clear this is not just about “nature” photography.
I wrote a post December 24, 2014 in which I attempted to explain this in a somewhat personal way. The post was titled. “What Photography Has Taught Me” and can be read here: http://bradmangas.com/what-photography-has-taught-me/
I began to write a reply to the question asked on the forum and quickly realized I had more to say than should be expressed in a typical reply. I found I had written what is now the post that follows.
I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that in the comments so far there is no mention of art. Most photographers these days may be uncomfortable with the “art” depiction, do not understand art or maybe have no interest in the creative expression and thus are not interested in it. As a result their photography would not have personal characteristics or expression but more pictures of things and places rather than artful creations of personal expression.
There is nothing at all wrong per se with pictures of things and places as opposed to personal expression through photographs, but it has led to what is now an apocalypse of “photographers”. I use the term apocalypse purposefully as I believe the technology and ease of use of such has become damaging to the creative nature that photography once was. Not damaging to photography or damaging to art, but damaging to the artful expression of photography. I think for most, an artful expression seems unnecessary in a photograph. Of course this is true of documentary types of photographs. But even then the creator has the ability to make choices as to how and what to document and leaves available a personal expression component.
To be able and then willing to express oneself through a chosen craft (in this case nature photography) takes a much deeper long term approach and one that I believe has slid by the wayside of the vast majority of today’s photographers. Anything that is slow, tedious and mutes instant recognition seems undesirable in this day and age. This can be seen daily on social media sites where there seems to be an obsession with posting pictures many times multiple per day of just about anything for the sole purpose of eliciting the almighty “like”. It is not easy or quick to create or express oneself in an art form and 99 percent of the time ends in less than adequate results known to the artist as failure. I believe the 99 percent failure rate is accurate and for good reason. You do not fail half the time you fail almost all the time. Failing should always be an acceptable outcome in the creative process. To fail at something should for the most part even be desirable and is in no way an end or stopping point. It is only when we quit does the learning, creating, expressive process end. I could not have written the preceding without much failure in my life. Thank goodness for unintended failure.
As I read the comments most were well placed with the most desirable reasons given being simply, it’s fun, I enjoy being in nature and my personal favorite: “Hate most people or Birds don’t talk”. I will clarify, I do not hate most people but, yes there is a but, I have no problem admitting I prefer solitude.
To create a photograph is to express oneself in an alternate medium. Why? I cannot answer such a question. What I can say is, if I did not, I would not be living my life the way I choose to live.