By way of introduction my name is Lou Jones and I am a photographer with a studio in the Boston area. I have been doing commercial, editorial and fine art photography for a long time (www.fotojones.com). Assignments take me around the world. PicsArt asked me to write a monthly column about the vast photographic landscape. It is a huge undertaking but with your help it could be fun.
I have been taking pictures so long that the simplest questions are often overlooked. So I tried to think back to some of the things that got me interested in photography. So “why take pictures?” When I started out that query was a little easier to answer. Also, at that time I could name all the people who were direct competition. Now everybody is a photographer.
This video may better illustrate how much the avocation has escalated.
So if we have that much competition why do we want to contribute to the clutter?
To be creative
Since its inception photography has engaged some of the most creative minds. And some of the most bizarre, too.
And although it was under pressure in the early years to justify itself as an art form, most museums today have photography collections and understand its historic and aesthetic contributions. Social networking sites like PicsArt, Facebook, and Instagram have opened up new opportunities to showcase.
There are not many truly creative photographs being made. Most people just want to capture moments of their new baby, wedding, graduation, gathering, party, “selfie”, etc. Photography serves as the easiest and most convenient way to remember. You do not have to know how to spell RAW or PhotoShop to get competent results.
To be trendy
Photography has been popular since Kodak made it easy. But the digital revolution has made it accessible for all. The cameras are simpler, cheaper. More pictures are taken with cell phones than all cameras. It is a universal hobby. Anybody can do it. Even hipsters.
To tell stories
It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or an amateur. You don’t need formal training. But we can most accurately tell the big and little stories of our own lives, of those surrounding us and of those far away. The more we know about each other, the more we see, the better we understand and cope.
To get paid
Years ago I argued that I would take pictures for free if that was my only option, but my colleague said he quit, locked the door to his studio and went home each night to his family. He was also right. To him photography was just a job. Albeit a good one.
To record your life
Some people are clever and obsessive enough to integrate photography into every aspect of their lives. They take pictures of their travels, their ideas, their politics, food, dog, etc. They turn the camera inward. This may be personal, quirky, entertaining, serious, or funny. And the best camera for that just happens to be the one you have with you: DSLR, point & shoot, cell phone.
I have often been asked how I select my employees. I tell them I don’t seek people who want to take pictures. I seek people who have to take pictures. It is in their eyes. Souls who love the act and art of photography. It is part of their DNA.
Photographs can be documents but do NOT have to be accurate. Each of us sees the world through our own filter. Subjective. Everyone has their own reasons for taking pictures. All valid. But even so, photography is the world’s universal language. No need for translation.
Photos and Text By Lou Jones