Have you ever wondered, what is it about photography that makes you willing to do anything despite how costly, uncomfortable, or difficult it is? The very practice of photography seems to be its reward. Why?
If you enjoy photography you know it’s not always because of money. Most of us entered the practice by taking pictures of the things that fascinated us. Then before we knew it, we wanted to do nothing else but photograph for the rest of our lives!
It is the enjoyment; the fun in photography that really makes it indulging. And whether you pursue photography as a hobby or full-time career, the reasons why it is fun remain the same.
1. Storytelling is Fun
Throughout history, humans have found storytelling to be an engaging pastime. People have traditionally gathered in places such as town squares and temples to interact and share their stories with one another.
Today’s ever-evolving technology has taken the art of storytelling to new levels and photography has become one of the most powerful means of communicating them. This is true for several reasons:
First, a camera empowers photographers to frame the world in a way they want it to be perceived. Cameras are not meant to show facts; rather, they are intended to show what the photographer sees as reality.
Of course, something “real” has to reflect the light rays necessary to produce an image. But the photographer will always have the most significant impact on the realities reflected by their pictures. And a good photographer knows how to forge images that reflect exactly what’s in his or her mind.
For example, whenever a photographer navigates through the viewfinder, he or she decides what should be considered significant and insignificant in a scene. In this way, the very act of finding the right composition is a manipulation of reality.
Photographers also alter reality with their choice of camera settings such as aperture and shutter speed.
They can choose to immobilize their subject(s) with fast shutter speeds and reveal narratives that are otherwise impossible to observe. Or they can choose to obscure their subject(s) by capturing their movements at different points in time with longer shutter speeds.
Second, images are a universal form of language. Unlike speaking and writing humans are born with the ability to see and visually comprehend. Therefore regardless of the race, culture, or language, all viewers can interpret images.
Third, images are subjective. When we see a picture we can interpret it the way we want, we give it meaning based on our life experiences and therefore make it our own. This personalization makes images lasting and memorable when compared to other forms of communication.
Lastly, the evolution of technology has made photography an instrumental force in the way we tell stories. Today, we no longer have to wait for our images to be developed before we can see them.
In addition, thanks to the internet, we now have the ability to share our stories across the world within minutes of capturing them. Our generation’s access to instant images and sharing has made photography more exciting than ever.
2. There’s Something About Chasing the Light
Finding the best light for your pictures is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in photography.
Have you ever looked at a scene and known that the light is perfect? Your pupils start to dilate, and your heart begins to race.
Your palms start to sweat, and you start feeling physically agitated. You get your camera ready and start taking pictures.
The entire world begins to fade, and all you can think about is getting that perfect composition to go with that perfect light.
That’s definitely how I felt when I saw the second rainbow appear slowly in the background as I was taking this picture in Glacier National Park.
The whole process can be stimulating. Why?
In photography, you chase fleeting moments with no certainty that you will get the image you want. The moment you see that perfect light illuminating your scene, your brain releases dopamine signaling that the reward you are chasing is within reach.
Scientific studies have shown that our neurons release higher levels of dopamine when we are chasing after uncertain rewards compared to certain ones. This uncertainty is the reason why photography is so fun.
Chasing images that we may never capture produces high levels of dopamine that keep us coming back for more.
3. Discovery Is Exciting
It is the human’s innate sense of adventure that has always led to discoveries and some of the world’s greatest inventions. In photography, this trait is the reason we keep finding new subjects even at locations that’s been exhaustively covered.
Whether you are a portrait, street, or landscape photographer, there is always that innate drive to explore and seek new things to photograph.
Every time a photographer discovers new subject(s) or a new way to photograph them there’s always that rush of exhilaration.
This feeling can be gratifying, and it is one reason why photographers travel great distances to find unique subjects and compositions.
4. You Get Butterflies When Your Ideas Come to Life
Like any artist, a photographer mulls over different compositional ideas before turning them into images. And one of the biggest challenges in photography is getting an image exactly the way you visualized it.
It is not uncommon for an image to come out looking imperfect compared to what the photographer had in mind. However, when the shot looks just as the photographer imagined it, it’s always a thrill.
There is fulfillment is seeing your ideas come to life. And a photographer will go to great lengths to make this happen. This fulfillment explains why you can shoot the same subject for years in an attempt to perfect it without getting tired.
Your audiences won’t always appreciate how much you pour your heart into your work. Yet you labor for years perfecting it. For what reason? For the pure joy of turning your ideas into reality.
5. Photography Immortalizes Our Memories
A camera helps us preserve and share the things we care about. It empowers us to immortalize moments that would otherwise be lost in our memories.
Photography enables us to capture fleeting moments as they unfold and store them for posterity.
It captures life’s important moments and allows us to share them with family and friends who were not with us when they unfolded. When photographed, fleeting moments become a more permanent part of our history.
Photographs also allow us to record our adventures and relive them once we are old. It is much easier to remember vivid details of our escapades if we kept photographic records of them.
Images can make us feel the same emotions we did when we captured the photograph. It can transport us to a specific point in time and let us feel the same sentiments once again.
Also, photographs allow us to tell history from our point of view. We take pictures using our personal experiences and emotions. In this way, photography allows us to tell stories the way we perceive them. We get to frame time and history the way we see fit.
6. Technology Is Fascinating
Our fascination with technology comes down to our psychological makeup.
As humans, we have an ingrained curiosity for understanding and controlling our environment. And technology has been one of the main tools we use to satisfy this need.
Technology gives us a sense of control by providing us different ways to manipulate the world around us. It expands our world and its possibilities.
Whether we use it for practicality or entertainment, as soon as we discover new technology, we imagine the various ways in which it can transform our lives.
What is more fascinating than using a camera that can immobilize the world with the press of a button? Or a lens that can capture even the faintest stars?
With a camera, we have the power to frame the world how we perceive it. Through it, we can capture moments that are otherwise invisible to the human eye or add an artistic approach to an otherwise dull scene.
Through photography we become co-creators, deciding how our viewers will see the world.
7. There’s Joy in Learning
Humans generally derive pleasure from mastery. This gratification is why most of us will learn how to play an instrument or a particular sport even if we don’t have a specific end game in mind.
We do these things with the simple goal of building skills and getting better at something. We do it to cultivate our self-confidence and self-efficacy.
Also, when you attempt to learn or master a skill, you stretch your mind to its limits. And, though it sounds counterintuitive, most of these moments will be the happiest of your life.
Much of our happiness as human beings come from the sense of accomplishment we derive from acquiring and perfecting a skill.
Notice that when you are learning a craft that you’re passionate about, no matter how tedious, the quality of your life will improve regardless of external conditions.
You direct your energy at getting better at it while everything else disappears into the background. Many of the things you thought you wanted in your life will all of a sudden seem frivolous.
This has certainly happened to me with photography. Things that I used to want, like new clothes and shoes, slowly stopped being relevant.
When you spend your time doing something you believe is worthwhile, you begin to find contentment in things that never satisfied you before.
Also, when we devote our time learning about the things that interest us, we get a sense of control over our lives. This sense of gratification is independent of any rewards that the craft may bring.
With this backdrop, you can begin to understand why college students who pick a major with an open mind tend to be happier than those who make the selection with a specific end goal in mind.
Happiness and learning go hand in hand. It is only through learning that we can truly elevate our lives and the lives of those around us.
8. Community is Key to Happiness
If you are a photographer, you’ll often find yourself engaging with other people such as your fellow photographers, subject(s), and mentors. Such connections can develop into lasting friendships and help you become part of a community.
Being a part of a community helps us build our identities and knowledge of who we are as people. We often choose a community that has the same values and passions that we do.
By interacting with like-minded individuals, we feel a sense of validation. This validation increases our self-esteem and gives us the confidence to be true to ourselves.
In addition, being a part of a community reminds us that we are not alone. It gives us a place to learn, share and connect with others. It mirrors to us how universal our worries, concerns, joys, and aspirations are. The connections and friendships we make through photography are one of the reasons why it’s fun and worthwhile.
9. There Is Happiness in Finding Your Flow
There is a correlation between finding our flow and being truly happy.
When we’re in the flow, we get absorbed in what we are doing to the point that we don’t realize the passage of time. We become intensely focused in the present moment, and we don’t allow any distractions from elsewhere to set in.
This kind of focus often happens when we are taking photos. It’s not uncommon that we become lost in finding new subjects and compositions. Hours of shooting will often feel like minutes. In this state, the tasks we are performing feel as though they are happening on their own.
Many photographers will find themselves in the flow which is what makes photography unique compared to most other professions or hobbies. We often find ourselves in sync with our surroundings. This usually yields peace and contentment in our lives as photographers.
10. Purpose is Happiness
We all want to feel that our efforts are contributing something to society and that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s what brings us fulfillment in what we do. And photography is a great way to achieve that feeling.
The act of creating art is an easy way to feel part of something greater. When you create art, you get that feeling of serving the world. And serving others is essential to a meaningful life.
Also, the permanency of our creations can provide us with a feeling that we are serving a bigger purpose. The images that we take are lasting and more permanent than ourselves. They are likely to continue to exist long after we are gone.
The quality of our lives is not dependent solely on happiness, but on the means of how we achieve that happiness. Photography allows us to do something worthwhile. Through it, we can develop goals that contribute to a fulfilling existence and a meaningful life.
11. Photography Makes Us Fall in Love With Life
With all the beauty and adventure that comes with photography, you cannot help but learn to appreciate life in its entirety.
When you look at the world through your viewfinder and capture breathtaking moments, you realize just how beautiful the world can be.
Meeting new people, making new friends and learning new cultures all contribute to developing a love for life.
Loving life becomes effortless when it’s filled with beauty, connection, and adventure. It just comes naturally.
All said, there are much beauty and value that photography can add to our lives. I encourage you to go out and capture the world. Record all the beauty and special moments around you. Allow yourself to imagine, and you’ll realize how amazing photography can be.