“He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.” -Victor Hugo

 

I am going to start a writing project here on the blog. As the title implies the content will be based on “Why Photography Matters”. This will be a multi-part essay and will include as of now an unknown number of parts.  Here is a quick explanation on why and how this came about.

The content of most photography related information, online media, print magazines, workshops, tours etc. is for the most part based on the technical aspect of photography or the tools themselves, gear and post processing hardware and software. Or with the case of tours it becomes about location. This is all fine and good, we all need to keep honing our technical skills striving for continual improvements and exploring new lands with new opportunities.

With all the information out there for those just starting in photography or those who have been doing it for years there is never a clear or concise answer as to, Why? Why do you take pictures? Why do you spend time looking at photos, working on photos, preparing photos, talking about photos, displaying photos, sharing, why, why, why does photography matter? I am well aware of the typical answers when asked this question of why. Such as, it’s fun I enjoy taking pictures, or I love the outdoors are very typical answers. Typical is not what this project is about. To say the least it is about the atypical answer. Not strange or odd reasons but the reasons that are hard to explain, such as; why do you love your pet? Many times an answer to a question like this ends with, I don’t know I just like it. Easy, but completely uninformative.

Why does photography matter is an essay without a clear ending. Like many philosophical questions the “answer” is not “the” answer but rather why does one believe in such a way or in such a manner. Many if not most times it is the process of exploring the “why” that leads to greater understanding of more meaningful questions. It may not have a clear beginning, middle, or end. I guess since this is the beginning entitled “Part 1” this will be the start. My hope is that this will be more of a journey through thoughts, opinions, experiences, and objectives. There will be quotes from noted photographers, writers, and artists of other crafts. My objective is not to repeat what has already been said by others but to expand on it in a simple yet personal way.

I do have a ulterior motive as well. As I have stated many times in other post’s, I purposely live in a somewhat solitude manner. I am much more comfortable being by myself than with others. I have no plans on changing my fundamental ways but, there are reasons the solitary life is limiting. That is not to say bad just limiting. I am well aware of my limitations, many of which I embrace whole heatedly. Some that I am willing to be more open minded about. I am not one who would voluntarily open up to strangers. With that said I have decided to do just that in the form of a presentation at the 2015 Kansas Sampler Festival this May. Not really a big deal even for me but, when I decided I would volunteer to give a talk I needed to decide what the talk would be about. Other local photographers will be doing the same on this weekend just as last year. I declined last year thinking I don’t want to stand up in front of others and talk about photography and so I didn’t. I have had time to think about this and to realize I do have things to say and experiences and opinions to share. As with most of these kinds of talks on photography techniques are a main subject. Slide shows with photographs the photographer has taken followed by the how too’s of their making. An educational talk on how others can do the same and what is needed to do so. Nothing wrong with that. When I put some thought into what to talk about technique of photography seemed boring and basically old news. There are countless articles, blog posts, and videos about how to take photographs. Why would I need to do the same? Obviously I do not need to do the same. There is where my differences of thought tend to take a sharp turn from the typical approach to the atypical.

I have a fundamental overriding feeling when it comes to photography. Whether my own photographs or others and that is, why? Why do I take pictures, why do you take pictures, why has anyone made photographs since Nicéphore Niépce successfully produced what is known as the first successful attempt in 1826 and is credited as being the inventor of photography.

This is the question or questions that, as the proverbial phrase goes, “keep me up at night.” There seemed no question that this is the only subject I would voluntarily speak about. Now that the decision has been made I realize, I may have no idea how to approach this. My hope is to instill not answers to these questions but more questions. Questions that may specifically make one wonder. To get the juices flowing so to speak and to approach their photography not from the technical direction but from a more personal direction. I may be opening a can of worms with this but I believe it is a can worth opening. There really is no wrong answer as to why do photographs matter, there is simply your answer. An answer that needs no reasons but needs at minimum, thoughts and understanding.

OK, so it has begun. Here is my approach. I will write a new part to this essay once per week minimum. There isn’t a specific day of the week set but I will not go more than 7 days without adding to this essay. That is the plan and that is the direction. The rest will be action. I do plan on sharing a photograph with each entry after all, this is a photography blog! There probably won’t be much about the photograph for the simple fact that this is not about “the” photograph as I have mentioned.

Thanks for taking time to not only read this but to keep tabs on what I am up too. Oh and by the way, there may be other posts mixed in over the next couple of months that are not part of this essay project. The journeys, experiences, and photographs that have always been part of this blog continue as well.

 

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Kansas

© Brad Mangas

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