Why Photography?

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A number of people have asked me how I got interested in photography. For a few, the question has an unspoken emphasis: “How did you get *SO* interested in photography?”  My family and a few close friends know that I’ve gone through some mini “obsessions” in my life. Here are a few that come to mind:

1) BYU football (longstanding, ongoing, and perfectly appropriate)

2) Running (ended after completing a marathon, thankfully)

3) Landscaping (including a strong fascination with Japanese maple trees, snuffed out after our dog, kids, and winter killed off most of my precious trees)

4) Home design (still have a dream home floor plan on the back burner – waiting to see if we can ever afford to build it)

If you know me well, feel free to add to the obsession list in a comment.

But in answering the “why?” of my photography “obsession” there are elements that show me why this will be a lifelong pursuit.

The story starts simply enough: A couple brothers-in-law had pretty nice dSLR cameras and I was interested in the creative possibilities of photography as well as documenting the life of my family. In May 2010 I bought a Canon XSi and started reading a few books on exposure, light, technique, etc. It was super interesting and fun, and family and friends liked the photos I was taking. An old friend commented that I had “the eye” :). I also found that my kids’ sports events were even more enjoyable when I was on the sideline taking cool action photos that they and their friends liked using as facebook profile pictures. Photography seemed like a much more productive interest for me than video games or fantasy football.

But there was a fundamental shift that happened when I discovered landscape photography. First, there were a couple very special experiences during visits to Utah national parks (that I’ll describe in greater detail in future posts) that really opened up for me a stronger connection with the wonders of nature and the miracles of creation around us. It’s very hard to describe here, but these experiences helped me feel a much stronger appreciation for life and creation, my connection to everything else in this world, a better awareness of my limited perspective, and the importance of savoring this moment of life.

Many of my landscape images are of impressive, unique, and iconic locations that inspire awe and wonder. These are really cool places to visit. Although I’m relatively new to landscape photography and I have a lot to learn, I resonate with Ansel Adams when he said, “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” I hope my photography motivates others to get off the couch and get out into nature, to feel a stronger connection with the Source of all creation, and to seek out and appreciate all the goodness in life.

I’ve also found myself looking at my everyday environment in a different way, frequently looking for moments and scenes that would make a great image. And that’s the thing: in paying closer attention to what’s going on around me, I’ve noticed more and more the wonder inherent in simple, everyday moments. What I’m learning, and what photography is reinforcing for me, is that there are miracles of creation all around us, that every moment has within it the seeds of wonder, and that inspiration is waiting in a tree leaf in my backyard. (And it’s interesting that Photography has taught me to do this better than Psychology.)

So, my best answer to “Why photography?” is that it is a great reminder for me to savor life. Guy Tal, a landscape photographer whose work I greatly admire, stated it better than I can:

“A life of sustained fulfilment, discovery and beauty is far more satisfying than one of mundane meanderings interrupted by the occasional moment of fleeting bliss.”

I hope you’ll follow my photography blog posts and we can practice savoring together.

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