What motivates you to make photographs? Motivations are so unique to each photographer and what brings them reward from the process. I have friends who find little personal reward from printing, which is a complete contrast with the reward I get from making a print that brings to fruition what I saw and felt, and what I wanted to say.
I was talking with a friend recently that said he would rather be outside than be inside printing, where for me both motivate the other. Going out and making photographs of nature makes me want to make prints that can communicate and express what I saw, and then in the process of making those prints, I am filled with awe and wonder at all that is contained in creation which drives me back into the field to make more photographs and the cycle repeats.
There is no right or wrong, that’s not the point of this musing. The point is to discover what motivates you! The things that motivate us seem easier to do, make it easier to endure the work or hardships required to attain our goal because it often doesn’t seem like work.
For me, sitting in front of the computer for hours working on one of my photos does not seem like work. Make no mistake, I am giving it intensive focus and effort, trying to tune my perception to tease out the essence of the subject and the light, and to work through the nearly limitless options that can be expressed through color and density correction, sharpening, masking, and more. It can be exhausting mentally, often requires obsessing over small details that actually make a big difference, and it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. For me the reward is worth it. Once I see in my mind’s eye what the photograph could be, it is as if I have no choice but to spend the time necessary to create that vision. The foreknowledge of what I can create makes the effort seem less like work than it is, and makes it easy to enjoy the journey.
What is sheer brutal drudgery for some is joy and rewarding for me. But what about you? What do you find most rewarding? How do you use that knowledge to improve your photography?
What don’t you enjoy? Are you putting off things that can help you grow just because you don’t enjoy them? What can you do to grow your skills in those areas to get better at them, and make them easier so that your dislike of that part doesn’t hinder your photographic goals? What could you learn if you just journeyed a little further to see what is over the next hill? Photography can be both fun and work, and if you neglect the work, you won’t keep growing.
The answers to these questions will be as unique as you are. The point is finding the things that motivate the pursuit of photography so you can lean into it and continue to grow and enjoy the art and craft of expressing yourself and the world around you though light and lens.