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• Tawny Eagle • By Netkonnexion on Flickr
I love that photography gives lets me opportunity to indulge more than one passion at once. I love birds of prey and I love photography, the two passions are complementary.
There is so much in photography…
We all appreciate the variety of the photographic craft. The interest and experience differs for all of us – except we share the passion. Here are nine other things photographers can share.
The power to move
• Tank Man •
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Image taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press, from a sixth floor balcony of the Beijing Hotel. The Tiananmen Square protest was an iconic photograph that moved a generation.
There are so many things in modern life that grab our attention that it is easy to forget the most meaningful things. Photography has an exquisite power. It can both crystalise a story in an instant and move the world. The very existence of some modern photographs has moved people and created extraordinary outcomes. Photography has that power on a world scale, and a family scale. Photographers can use the power of photography to raise the emotional pitch, bring tears or move a generation.
If a picture is better than a thousand words, the power of photography to pass a message is absolute. It is amazing that I can say, “I love you!”, with a carefully thought out click of a button. With just the same determination I can express my anguish or make make someone’s heart ache at the beauty of nature. Each time I click the button I like to think about what I am trying to say. If my image tells a story, communicates some meaning, then it succeeds. Photographers are communicators and we all share that responsibility and privilege.
Bring people together
Even the simplest family snapshot is precious. Some of the most important events of my life have been preserved through photographs or because I held a camera and made an image. It is in those moments in which we feel so close to others that photography expresses itself most intimately. Family, friends, co-workers and correspondents across the world share an intimate connection through their presence on a photograph or the act of sharing a photograph. Photography has the power to knit people together.
Photography has an awesome power to remind us of the good, the bad and the ugly events and times in our world. An individual photograph can be manipulated to create fiction. However, the collective memory of horrors like the Nazi atrocities in the Second World War are kept alive by the wide spread of stark images and horrific documentation from diverse sources. We are reminded of the past in very real ways by our photography. Any one of us photographers could, at any moment, make the picture of the century. Take your camera with you everywhere. It may be a picture you make now. For your grandchildren it may be history.
The story of a moment, and much more
When the button is pushed a story is made in the instant of a second it takes for the exposure to form. So much can be captured in that moment. The story of an instant is somehow more powerful than an hour-long documentary. It sums up so much about the situation, the people and the detail.
• Dad and Harold Wilson •
My father (right hand side) after a meeting, pictured with Harold Wilson (centre) shortly before Wilson became Prime Minister. One shot, in an instant, tells both a family story and a national event.
The moment of creation in a photograph is both unique and a shared experience. That instant will never happen again, yet we all recognise at least some of the imperatives in that capture. As photographers we share the power to see and tell stories through our pictures.
So much of the photographic history of the world is about sharing. Collective experiences are seen in the most iconic photographs where historic memories are captured, right through to the humble wedding of your neighbour. At all levels in our society and in all aspects of our cultures we share our experiences with our friends, loved ones and comrades. Since the time of cave paintings humans have recorded collective events that draw the community together. Today our photographs continue help us to form communities and provide a focus for them. There is no better example than online photographic communities – great communities where a love of photography is shared with a passion.
Seldom do we think of the author when we see a photograph. We are focussed on the subject and the meaning we see in that image. Photography is a medium where the outcome matters more than who made the image. Despite race, religion, gender, colour, sexuality or legal status your picture can compete on a level with all the others. Photography is truly an open and classless pursuit. I love that we can be all equal and have our own point to make. Photographers the world over share an equality that surpasses many other aspects of our societies in an unequal world. I celebrate diversity, welcome it, and rejoice in the fact that I am part of a community of photographers worldwide with whom I can share a common interest.
The expression of love
There is nothing more special than love expressed between people. Photography shares with other visual arts the ability to help us express our love. But the immediacy of photography can bring alive the imperatives of a loving relationship with graphic explicitness. Weddings, the kiss, love pictures and even the boudoir are just a few of the myriads of ways we can express the joy of love through photography. If there is one thing we photographers should share and spread around it is love.
Of all the things we will gain from photography, keeping alive personal memories must be one of the most important. As we get older the fleeting moments of our youth, which seemed to pass so quickly, become very precious. As photographers we have a wonderful opportunity to preserve our memorable moments for ourselves, our loved ones and descendants. We should not spoil the moment just to be behind the camera. But, we should enjoy the moments we take to capture the memories so that in the future we may recapture our lives all the more vividly and share them once again with others. Take every opportunity to capture images of those you love and who mean a lot to you. Blurred or ill-conceived, harsh or badly exposed, you will treasure every one in the future.
These are just a few things…
Photographers can share and give so much to the world. If you have some others to add to my list please leave some comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts.
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