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Why I Love Photography

Some people, who just don’t know any better, consider photographers to be “failed artists”.  It’s not true.  Photographers are people who see the art that is inherent in reality.

Baby washing day at the preschool

Baby washing day at the preschool

All Forms of Photography Matter

True, not all photos make the cut and join the ranks of “art”.  Nor do they have to.  Documenting the lives of our children, families and taking the simple ‘I was here” snapshots are all important uses for cameras.  Personally, I get a certain form of satisfaction from these more mundane photographic activities.

Sometimes, a rare gem comes into being when I take photos of my little daughters and family and a simple snapshot crosses the threshold and becomes something I just adore looking at. Those photos are meaningful to me for both sentimental and artistic reasons.

Photo of a Man

My love, 8 years ago, on our very first all day outing.

 

Celeste in a vineyard surrounded by mustard flowers

Celeste in a vineyard surrounded by mustard flowers

 

Celeste at the Farmer's Market

Celeste at the Farmer’s Market

 

Baby Sunday

Baby Sunday

Which inspires my next thought…

People Who Love Photography Do it Because it Feels Good… and to Make Money

At the heart of all art forms, including photography, is the emotional response that comes from both the act of creation and the satisfaction of knowing that you have created something amazing.  Perhaps it’s only amazing to you, and that is really all that ultimately matters.  If what you create moves other people in some way, all the better.  I love when my images are noticed and receive some sort of positive feedback, but it’s not the main motivating factor for taking them.

Finding beauty in the mundane

Finding beauty in the mundane

While there is nothing at all wrong with commercial photography, I’ve tended to shy away from it.  I do sell some photos via stock image sites, which work on a per image approval basis, but I really don’t want to take money from individuals for photos.  I don’t want to get locked into always trying to please someone else and lose what drew me to photography in the first place.

As far as commercial images go, my vineyards sell the best.  I just happen to live in the Napa Valley.  Lucky me, I get to go take pretty pictures and earn money doing it.

Vineyard in the spring

Vineyard in the spring

 

Calistoga, California

Calistoga, California

 

Vineyard in Calistoga

Vineyard in Calistoga

 

St. Helena, California

St. Helena, California

Photographers as Artists

“Artists sometimes dress funny and tend to stay up late.” Ken Rockwell

That quote from Ken Rockwell (highly recommend you check out his site) really made me laugh, since it’s so true for me.  I’m not sure if I dress “funny” but I really don’t care that much about fashion like most women do.  Most of the time, clean and comfortable is all that matters to me.  OK…a bit of lip-gloss and face powder is part of my daily routine, but I don’t even blow-dry my hair anymore!

The Goodwill is my favorite place to shop for clothes.  Not because I’m some hipster, but because it’s cheap and I don’t have to worry about my clothes.  If my kids walk up with hands covered in something messy and grab at my shirt or pants, leaving my clothing stained forever, I’m only out like $5!  Unless I bought them on half-off day.

I think it’s common for creative people to be less encumbered by the dictates of popular culture, unless they are very young and just don’t know better yet.

The good old days

Self-portrait from the good old days of giving a crap about my “image”

The stay up late part has been a life-long affliction.  In my childhood I lost a lot of sleep to good books.  Now, I lose a lot of sleep to editing my photographs, creating content for my websites about photography (including this one), making Lightroom presets and other smaller activities such as writing for Light Stalking.  The time after my family goes to bed is my time.  Me.  Mine.

Sometimes I stay up till 4am.  On the nights when my toddler wakes up repeatedly, which is starting to dwindle suddenly thankfully, I feel so frustrated!  I savor her babyhood though.  It’s so fleeting and I bet that I will someday miss her little body cuddling on my lap, in the middle of the night, while I struggle to type with one hand.

Your Camera Doesn’t Matter

In yet another favorite Ken Rockwell article (can you tell I’m something of a disciple?) he argues that your camera doesn’t matter.  I agree, to a point.  I think that if you want to shoot ultra high-end stuff that will go into magazines and/or be blown up into huge prints, then yeah your camera matters.  Also, some forms of photography, such as sports photography, require an appropriate camera/lenses.

However, you really don’t need any certain type of camera to shoot great photos or to truly love taking them.  Case in point, I recently sold my Nikon D5000 for the Pentax Q.  The Pentax Q is a small mirrorless camera, with interchangeable lenses, that fits into the palm of your hand.  Here is my small, girly hand holding my new Pentax.

Pentax Q Camera

Pentax Q Camera

Since the birth of my 3rd child (and last…thanks to a nifty little procedure), I’ve found it nearly impossible to go out and take photos.  Dragging my kids around plus all their gear made dealing with a DSLR very difficult.  I finally decided that I just wanted to take photos dammit!  I can hang this camera around my neck and practically do my entire day with my camera ready at almost a moment’s notice.  I’m taking a lot of photos again and it’s a relief.

Amazingly, in spite of the fact that it has a smaller sensor than my Nikon DSLR did, the image quality is very good.  I’m loving the prime lens as a nice change.  It gives me an even bigger push to get the composition right in-camera and it’s a nice fast, sharp lens.

Why Do You Love Photography?

I’d love to hear (read) your thoughts.

5 Responses to Why I Love Photography

  1. Richard says:

    Rachael
    A worthwhile article. I’ve just been through a bad personal patch in my life (losing my only sibling) but found that snatching some moments with my camera (anywhere, anytime) was uplifting. Like you there are times when my regular (big) DSLR is just too cumbersome to carry with me, but I’ve found that popping a 50mm prime lens on my smaller original DSLR and going for a wander works wonders. Yes, it presents challenges but also produces some most pleasing results. Even at the end of my own garden or in a corner of my garage.

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks for commenting. I lost a newborn baby 4 years ago (my older daughter’s twin). My only comfort for quite a long time was walking/taking bus rides with my camera in San Francisco while my surviving baby (both born very prematurely) was still at UCSF.

      I wish you well.

      Rachael

  2. Glenn says:

    Rachael – As the proud owner of several thousand images that most likely wouldn’t make the cut, I still love to grab my DSLR or iPhone and snap away. I make some money at portrait work but, not much. And while I really enjoy it, I would rather just take pictures of flowers in my back yard or my grand kids playing in the dirt. It helps me relax and give me a creative outlet. Sure, it would be nice to make more money with my photography and to garner a lot of praise but, those thoughts rarely cross my mind as I am positioning myself for the best pov on a dew-covered, beautifully lit flower.
    Thanks for a great article…I will be back for more of your wit and wisdom.
    Take care!
    Glenn

    • Hi Glenn,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. It really is affirming to hear that there are others out there who could make more money with their photography but instead mostly just enjoy themselves.

      Rachael

  3. Virginia Karanimtsas Howard says:

    Rachel,
    A sweet and confirming honest article. Virginia

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