Being a photographer is more than just a hobby. It’s a transformational activity which encompasses everything from travel to relationships to taking financial control of your life. It has the potential to change everything, and it could change you for the better.
Few events in life lead to transformative change. And when they arrive, it’s the mark of a good character to take advantage of them. Stressful situations at work, relationship breakdowns and the death of somebody you love can all provide a different perspective on life that force you to change dramatically as a person. In all these events, there’s a silver lining – it’s a chance to learn something new about yourself and the nature of the world around you.
But sometimes, it would be nice to gain new insights without having to go through all that pain in the first place. Could photography be a way to do this? Ask any successful photographer, and they’ll tell you that their vocation changed their life. Photography helped them to be present and to enjoy the world, without having all of the worries of life regularly beat them down. Here’s how.
Photography Forces You To Live In The Moment
There’s an epidemic of anxiety raging right now in the Western world. The pressures of modern economic life prove to be too much for many people, causing them to ruminate on negative thoughts continually.
In short, people aren’t living in the moment. Instead, they’re thinking about who they might have offended, whether their children are safe and if they’re going to have a great future. Most of these things are out of their control, but they get into a habit of dwelling on them, over and over, and it can be painful.
Photography provides an escape. It demands that people focus on whatever has captured their attention, rather than on something else. Photography is all about paying attention, waiting for the precise moment to take the perfect shot, especially when doing live-action work. If you struggle to stay in the moment, getting behind the camera might help.
You See The Good In Ugliness
Mature photographers, like mature people, can sense the good and bad in things. Mature people, for instance, understand that nobody is perfect and that all people have flaws, no matter how revered. Seasoned photographers have a similar understanding, and can make even the most mundane objects beautiful and appealing.
People with a real appreciation for photography don’t want perfection. They want something that they can relate to, and that inspires. Perfectly edited photos of postcard settings might look pretty, but they rarely evoke a profound response in the viewer. To put it bluntly, they’re boring.
A great photographer can provide new perspectives on everyday objects. They look for hidden beauty in the world around them and capture it in a way that they can share with others. They never take anything for granted and practice gratitude through their work.
You Get To Travel More
Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2012 found that people who travelled a lot had higher levels of creativity. The people behind the study put this down to the need to integrate into new cultures. But is that what’s really going on?
Psychologists have known for a while that when people travel, their unconscious minds light up. All of a sudden, they have to process a vast amount of new information, such as the local geography, language, and customs. People tend to feel more tired when they go on holiday because their unconscious minds have to process so much new information. But it’s not all bad: this information can lead to bursts of creativity because it provides people with new perspectives on the world. Photography is the ideal excuse to go travelling, and while you’re on your journeys, you may find yourself producing your best work yet.
You Appreciate Nature
Getting out of the city and into nature should be a regular part of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s not something that many of us feel compelled to do. Photography, however, provides the perfect excuse to go on a hike through the wilderness, collecting photos as you go.
Many photographers who specialise in nature shots ultimately learn a lot about the natural world and our place in it. They see that nature is a much bigger force than civilization, providing them with a valuable perspective. Nature is eternal, but humanity is fragile. It’s insights like these that colour the work of the best photographers. They learn to appreciate the rawness and power of nature in a way that many people never get the chance to do.
You Accept Trial And Error
Becoming a great photographer isn’t something that happens overnight. It requires an enormous amount of trial and error, practice and hard work. But this is a good thing.
Trial and error is the best way to build a new skill. To begin with, not all of your shots will work. You may struggle for months to take photos of particularly tricky subjects, like products or food. But over time, you’ll figure out what works and make improvements. You won’t be limited to landscapes forever.
You’ll also experiment with different equipment, eventually settling on a setup that works for you. Some photographers like to be entirely digital, uploading their photos to the cloud while others prefer to print them out with cheap Canon ink. What you choose depends entirely on your personal style and what you think gives you the best results. Before you know what works, you need to try a whole bunch of different things, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Finally, you’ll have to work in many different conditions. You may never take photos in a controlled environment (such as a studio), and so you’ll always have to battle problematic conditions, including poor weather, low visibility, and blazing sunshine. Being a photographer can help you persevere through these problems – or better still, use them to your advantage.
You Feel More Connected To Others
Being able to do something that benefits other people is a great way to feel more fulfilled. And photography is always a skill that’s in demand. Photography provides you with opportunities to connect with other people that you wouldn’t otherwise have, opening the door to new relationships and new ways to add value to the lives of others.
Do you have skill taking pictures of people? If so, then you could be invaluable at weddings, family gatherings, Christmas parties, and holidays.
You Can Earn Extra Money
Being a great photographer is a rare skill – one that people are willing to pay good money for. The average wedding photographer can charge $2,000 a day, and potentially even more during peak season, providing them with a substantial income.
Getting to that level takes time. But if you have a passion for photography, it can be so worth it. Almost without realising it, your ability to create stunning photographs will improve, especially if you focus on people. Before you know it, you’ll have an impressive portfolio of work that you can use to sell your services to new clients. Thus, if you’re struggling with money, photography can open up a whole new way of generating income.
You Learn About Yourself
There’s a tendency among new photographers to want to emulate the best in the world. They see what the pros can do and imagine that they need to be like them to have success. But if you look more closely at the work of the top people, you quickly realise that there’s no set formula: each person is applying their own skill and personality to their work, and that’s what makes it so interesting.
By all means, nail the basics. But beyond that, photography is more an expression of one’s own feelings than a science of observation. Great photographers learn a lot about themselves in the process. They find out what their passions are, how they like to observe the world, and what they achieve when they take a great shot. They reflect on their own artistic experiences in a way that reveals more about themselves.
You Get Better At Telling Stories
Telling a story without words is just as much a skill as telling one with words. But it’s something that great photographers can do, seemingly without effort. There are plenty of examples from history of incredible stories told through photos. The Chinese protester standing up to a tank in Tiananmen Square, the napalm girl running from the bombs in the Vietnam war, and the images of the collapsing World Trade Centers towers all made their mark on the popular imagination of history.
Your stories will hopefully be a little less grim than those heart-wrenching examples, but they needn’t be any less compelling. When you get behind the camera, don’t just think about the technical details, concentrate on what the image might say to your intended audience. It’ll help you become a better storyteller and make your work all the more interesting.