At about the same time each December, the photography corners of the internet are littered with lists to crown the top selling photo equipment of the year. Rather than adding more of the same, I’m opting to detail what I love about being a photographer.
1) A photographer has contact with all kinds of people from various walks of life. Whether I’m leading a workshop, or engaged in a shoot, it’s always fascinating to hear about the amazing things other people are doing. Perhaps no better example than Malala Yousafzai who I met briefly during a portrait session. Although just 17 years old and of slight build, her presence is undeniably powerful. The magnitude of this young lady’s courage is difficult to comprehend. As a vocal advocate of women’s rights and education in Pakistan, she became a target of the Taliban. Despite being shot in the face and nearly dying, she made a miraculous recovery. Today, she shares her message with a global audience. She recently said, “Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, the youngest ever to receive the honor.
2) Helping students follow their own creative dreams is one of the biggest thrills of my photography career. Perhaps there is nothing so rewarding as seeing the “I got it!” face. Whether someone is learning manual exposure, or finally figuring out what a histogram is, these moments are precious to me.
3) I can’t tell you how many times friends or family members have said something like “I saw a spectacular sunrise the other night and thought of you.” This is probably not the kind of thing an accountant or lawyer hears at holidays. It feels good to be remembered, and even better when it’s for something beautiful.
4) Maybe it’s because I’m in New York, or perhaps it’s just the fast paced world we live in, but life keeps moving, and quickly! With my camera, I’m able to capture and re-live every moment no matter how fleeting. Looking back at my Lightroom catalog is like a visual journey through the last several years.
5) Every day holds the potential for a new adventure, business opportunity, or personal project. This is what gets me up at 5:30am, even on the weekends. The benefit is twofold, allowing me to live in the moment, and look forward to the future. Whatever I do today will have an effect on tomorrow. I believe in making your own luck, and remaining open enough to embracing uncertainty.
6) It’s an exciting time to be a photographer. With the advances in technology, cameras are smaller, lighter, and more feature rich than ever before. Couple this with the ability to instantly share with the world via the blog or social media, and it’s possible to make a real impact on the world through your lens.
7) I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to and learn about so many different cultures. Even when language was a barrier, the camera seemed to open the doors of understanding. This is why the first line of my bio is, “Through the lens I learn more about myself and the world around me”. Planet Earth may be large, but as human beings, we are more similar to each other than we initially realize. Photography allows one to see beyond lines on maps, and into the soul of people and places.
8) This year, I’ve had a chance to write more photo tutorials than ever before. My goal has always been to make each word count. When I first started out in photography, it was tough to find reliable information from a trusted source. To this day, there is still so much mis-information on the web. With these articles, I’ve worked to cut through the nonsense, strip away the unnecessary noise, and really get to the heart of each topic. Reading your feedback in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter has been very encouraging.
9) This is a season for giving, but through photography, the charitable spirit can remain year-round. There are so many ways to use one’s photography to make the world a better place. Take for example, the Rotten project by Joe Buglewicz. He photographs spoiled food items to bring awareness to waste. Proceeds from these print sales are donated to City Harvest in New York. In Japan, artist Munemasa Takahashi leads the Lost & Found Project, working to recover photos lost during the devastating tsunami and earthquake in 2011. He reports that “each photograph was washed, digitized, and numbered according to where it was found, and twenty thousand have been returned to their original owners.” Here in New York, I’ve donated framed prints to non-profit organizations and supported entrepreneurs around the world through Kiva loans. There’s no shortage of worthy causes, so you can choose one that matches your passion. The satisfaction you’ll receive from helping others with your photography is unparalleled.
What do you love about being a photographer? Share your thoughts in the comments. Happy Holidays!