So many people find joy, meaning, and power in photography. Here are eight stories (mine is the last) about how photography has shaped the lives of eight people. Enjoy.
1. We carry it with us as part of our identity.
“Ever since I was younger, I always had a camera with me, even if it was just a disposable plastic camera. During high school I took photography classes but still didn’t pursue that as a field of choice for college. I was actually originally a music major in college. It wasn’t until a friend realized how frustrated I was with music theory that she recommended I switch to photography. At that point in time I was photographing bands extremely often, as well as playing in bands (2 birds, 1 stone), so I made the switch and haven’t looked back since. My father and grandfather were both hobbyist photographers, so their enjoyment of the art lives on inside of me.” –Scott Wyden Kivowitz
2. It helps us connect with and inspire others.
“Personally, photography has always been a way of creating my vision into something tangible to share with others. This vision is very personal and varies from person to person, but always serves the soul. Being able to make photographs for a living is an incredibly special thing that I feel quite fortunate to have in my life. My father always told me growing up to do what I loved as my life’s work. I’ve always held onto that belief because it is very valuable and also honors his own life and legacy. My father instilled in me a love of history; by creating photographs to share with the world, you leave behind a little something of yourself as part of that history. This is true of many art forms, but the visual identity of photography is certainly one that can document, inspire, create, and support those around you like no other.” –Michael Kirchoff
3. It makes small things big and quiet voices loud.
“I have a drive to create, but choosing my medium came down to trial and error. I had tried darkroom photography and really loved the hands-on process. When I had to take digital classes, I didn’t feel that same connection. I needed something more. So I began building things. I discovered a love for creating every detail of an image. I could direct the viewer’s attention to precisely what I wanted, by creating just that. I love the way you can transform things through a camera lens- you can warp perspective, angles, light. The scenes I build aren’t as detailed as they sometimes appear- I complete them through the photographs I take. As far as my choice in miniature subjects- I like taking something fake and small and giving it life and a voice- through colors, angels, outsider perception- giving emotion and a sense of connection to an image of something that is worlds away from what you actually are. Aside from this drive, photography also serves as an outlet. I can express my anxieties in images, when words aren’t enough- without me having to be so open to saying, this is me, this is how I’m feeling. I can speak through my pictures.” –Jennifer Nichole Wells
4. It changes the way we see the world and ourselves.
“I suffer from depression and and lack any kind of confidence in myself, but when I pick up my camera the world kind of changes. I see things I wouldn’t normally see and create a memory to look at when I am down.” –Tony Rolls
5. It helps us cope and express emotion.
“The death of my father made me realize how valuable are the moments we spend with our beloved and how important is to capture those moments.
Photography helped me to express my self and emotions all in one small frame. The photo has more power when conveying ideas or emotions to people than words do.” –Abdulhameed Shamandour
6. It inspires us, excites us, and challenges us in surprising ways.
“There’s just something about a great photograph that has always attracted me. It was the landscape images I saw in my teens of the Yosemite Valley by Ansel Adams that first captured my imagination. That really planted the seed that one day I might like to get serious about photography. But for years I didn’t actually do anything about it.
Then, in 2008, after coming home from a vacation there myself, I was so disappointed with the pictures I took that I finally decided to take the leap. The following summer I bought my first DSLR and I decided that if I was going to spend that kind of money on equipment, it would be worth it to invest a little more to learn how to use it properly. I signed-up for an introduction to photography course at a local university. That course was an eye opener. It exposed me to not only the basic technical aspects, but so many different techniques and styles that I just wanted to keep learning.
Now, I can’t stop. I’m slowly working my way through their diploma program and I look forward to each new challenge. Though I do a little product photography for my work, at my age I don’t think I’m going to ever make it my full time profession. I’d classify myself as a very passionate hobbyist.” –Norman Frampton
7. It helps us expand our minds and experience life more fully.
“Photography allows me to talk to people I would not talk to otherwise, to explore places I would not go to otherwise and to look at things closely that I might not see if it was not to create an image. In order to make photographs I have met many interesting people and have talked my way into sports events and onto the decks of ships. I have spent many moonlit nights in remote locations to photograph landscapes at night. Photography has introduced me to many friends who share my passion of creating images. Photography opens the doors of life for me.” –Susanne Friedrich
8. It keeps us going.
Taking photos keeps me going every single day. It gives me something to do when I want to get away from my thoughts. It helps me see beauty. It drives me forward when it feels like nothing in my life is moving in the right direction. It centers me.
Thanks for reading. I hope you have a great New Year’s Day, and I hope that you will think about these stories as you look forward to 2015.