Photography can be anything for everyone.
It can be art, history, meditation/relaxation, escape, adventure, exploration, enlightenment, sport, or a soap box. This can be true for both photographer and viewer. The beauty of photography is that these reasons can be interwoven and mixed with any percentage to make each brick or stone along your path to say what you want it to say, or mean what you want it to mean. It is your experience, your world, and only yours, which is what makes your path in photography so different.
For some, the path itself may be very similar, or even the same, but the cobblestones are arranged in a different order and/or using any number or other aspects that I didn't mention, as they venture along their experiences. My path, as a photographer, started with the historical stone. I love to travel, and I wanted to take photos of the places I had been to show friends and family, and as a keepsake for years down the road to gaze upon and reminisce and daydream. This stone lead to exploration, the search for more daydreams and places to reminisce about. This lead to relaxation and escape as I started to find more and more places that allowed me to exhale and say, "ahhhh." As I started to get off of the beaten path, I got to see a lot of things that woke me up to how the "real world" is, which lead to my soap box, trying to get more people to see how difficult the world is for many people who are undeservedly suffering. Which lead me to enlightenment, as I use photography to help me become a better person. Recognizing how much love and how much people are willing to give regardless of how much or how little they may have for themselves, and how much I want to be like them.
Within this enlightenment and soap box, I try to maintain the same constant throughout the path: art. I may not have any one brick that may be exclusively 'art' as so many other photographers around the world have, but it is the common thread, the mortar if you will, that holds my bricks together. But it is also this stimulus that allows, no, forces my path to meander through my experiences. A straight path from A to B may be the quickest way, but there are so many more interesting stories to experience when the road zigs and zags. Likewise, the stories are more interesting when there is the artistic element intertwined in each turn.
It is also the artistic side that allows my style, and yours, to change over time, and even from shoot to shoot. There are so many different factors that happen in each photograph, that no matter how many times something has been photographed it will always be different than the ones before it. That is the individuality of each photo and each person. Theses are the things that I hope to explore together with you as we make our treks down our paths, and with a little deeper understanding of my reasons and experiences of my photographic journey. Together we can learn from each other, and I hope that we can inspire not only ourselves but the people and subjects around us.
To quote the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, "Everyday is a journey, and the journey itself home." Everyone is at a different point on their paths, some are just starting and others have been on their journey, if you will, for a long, long time. My hope is that this column will inform without teaching. By that I mean, I will not for the most part, be going through the numbers, exact shutter speeds, f-stops, and hyper-focal distances. (I may touch on them from time to time as each story may dictate its necessity.) That is being done everywhere in books, seminars, and online. Mr. Basho also said, "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought." When it comes to art, and especially photography in today's world, this quote is one of the keys for me. So let's start down our paths together and seek what the wise sought.
I also hope that this column can inspire without prejudice. It shouldn't matter where each of us is on our paths, they are just that, "OUR" paths. I hope that those who have been taking photos for years can get the same amount of inspiration as those who are just starting out. We're all under the same sun, same moon, and same clouds, and they don't care if you're taking a photo with a phone, a DSLR, or a disposable film camera. The only thing that matters is your own interaction with your experience and the building of new bricks for your path. Let's welcome these new experiences with open arms and let the art guide us down our paths.