I have been thinking a bit about why we photograph. I think a little self-awareness here can help one find better and more soul-satisfying photography. A lot of photography is chasing, and I am tired of that, both from my work and what I see of others – chasing what other photographers are doing, chasing what is hot (from gear to software), chasing competitions, chasing camera club approval, chasing goals that come from our past and are not relevant today, and so it goes.
A good friend of mine, Chuck Summers, sometimes photographs for a "therapy" of sorts and I think that is pretty cool. He actually calls it his "macro therapy" and he goes out with just his camera and one lens, his macro lens, gets in close, and gets lost in a world of color, form, shapes and whatever he finds. He does this purely for himself.
One of my favorite types of photography is close-up and macro photography. For me, that means entering a different world, a new world from our day-to-day human-scale world. I feel limited with just a macro lens (I don't like being stuck with one focal length – see my blog at www.mirrorlessnature.com to see more about different focal lengths and close-ups), so I will shoot with wide-angle and telephotos up close. The series of photos seen here are shot up close and very personal with a fisheye lens literally next to a solitary bee's nest (also called a miner bee). I am bringing you into a world that most people never see, the world of a miner bee coming into her nest.
I am beginning to understand, and this is after a lifetime of photography, that my most satisfying work comes when I go into this close-up world as me and photograph what best connects there with me. Such as using a fisheye up close next to a miner bee's nest! This then makes my photography a reflection of my world. I am actually finding that now I sometimes say, "No", to a photograph when I feel it is too derivative of other work or if it tries too hard to chase something that my mind wants to chase rather than staying focused on what is important to me.
Saying, "No", is an important choice for photographers because it says you are aware of what works and does not work for a photograph. By recognizing a subject and scene as a "No", you are encouraged to move on to photos you can say, "Yes!" to.
I find the close-up world of nature fascinating, always. And of course, as a photographer, I want to share it, but what is important to me is not that I am simply sharing photos or subjects, but sharing a vision that is, good or bad, unique to me. That is my world and I truly do want to welcome others to it.
I think this can be true for all of us as photographers. Sharing the world as you see it is important, but this can only happen if you start thinking, "Welcome to my world", as you photograph rather than thinking things like, "I have to get this subject", "I have to get a better shot for display at the camera club", "I have to use my macro lens better so that [person] will be impressed", "I have to take as many photos as possible because I am only here a short time", "I have to get pictures that will impress an editor", and so on and on.
I have begun to realize that photography that connects best with me, and I have noticed, often connects well with others, is photography that truly brings us into a special world that is seen by that photographer. I think the challenge for all of us is to find ways to make our unique views of the world, which then become our world, connect with others through our photography.
For me, this is really important because of my feelings about nature. I think nature is very important for all of us. I want to bring people into the natural world as I see it through my photography and help them discover cool things there that I have discovered. I want to welcome people into my world through photography.