While filtering through thousands of photographs I’ve taken over the last couple of years, it occurred to me, I’ve taken THOUSANDS OF PHOTOGRAPHS. Hundreds of thousands, maybe a million if I had to venture a guess! My photography career has now spanned two decades and some MAJOR technological advances that I never would have DREAMED of back when I was starting out. The romantic darkroom days have long been replaced by long hours parked in front of a monitor, culling, editing, tweaking and ultimately sharing those images with my clients. There have been lots and lots of evolutions of my craft over the years, but one thing has remained the same.
I love taking photographs.
But why? I’m not sure I ever really asked myself that question. People always ask me HOW I became a photographer, and I’ve got my quick and ready response for that. There’s also been ample time spent pondering the BUSINESS side of photography. The usual stuff- how to work smarter not harder, how to stand out in a sea of photographers, how to create images that will sell…blah blah blah…boring. My whole identity has been tied to photography for as long as I remember. “This is my friend Suzanne, the photographer,” has been a popular introduction for years.
But WHY photography?? What is about photography that stole my heart and became my chosen form of creative expression?
Clearly, I’m a visual person. Every art form that I enjoy creating is VISUAL art. So that answer is too easy. It’s more than that.
My brother once told me, “Definition is the soul of existence. If it cannot be defined, it does not exist.”
Photography is defined as
the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (as film or an optical sensor)
Although, I’ve always preferred the Latin root definition. WRITING WITH LIGHT.
That says it all, doesn’t it? We are telling stories, with light. We are capturing memories, with light. We are documenting lives, events, fleeting moments in time. WITH LIGHT.
I love the light. I love everything about it. When the setting sun dances on a calm lake, sparkling like a million diamonds tumbling from the sky. Or when the warm, morning glow skips past my window as a friendly alert that a new day is dawning. Then there are the shadows, that always accompany the light, so much depth in the darkness.
As a photographer, I am obsessed with the light. To be good photographer, you sort of have to be obsessed. The light has a special relationship with everything it touches, and in order to capture those things, those people, those places, those moments, we have to understand those relationships.
The light is the first thing I notice everywhere I go. And I’ve often wondered, in a ‘chicken or the egg sort of way’, was it my attraction to the light that created my love of photography or the other way around? I suppose at this stage, it doesn’t really matter. But I’ve always enjoyed chasing the light, literally & figuratively, and its taken me to some very interesting places.
By following the light, I’ve photographed a zillion faces. Ok, maybe not a zillion, but its up there. And I remember EVERY ONE. In my mind, in the visual landscape that I call my brain, I remember them. Because every face belongs to a spirit, an individual, a human being that has touched my life even if for just that brief moment when I trigger that shutter. And then, POOF! that face magically takes root in my garden of memories forever.
Behind every face, is a story. I may not know the whole story, but I find peace in the fact that there is one. And as a photographer, by capturing that moment, I get to tell a little piece of it.
One of my FAVORITE parts about the type of photography that I’ve specialized in for the last 10 or so years is when I get to see the photographs actually fulfilling their purpose of telling their story, out in the open, where they can be heard and enjoyed. Not living in our phone or stuck in the vast wilderness of a hard drive somewhere.
When I enter a client’s home and see the memories we made together gracing their walls, proudly displayed, all I see is LOVE. In that moment, its not about “I took that, I’m awesome.”
It’s more, YES. Everyone gets to enjoy the story. The beautiful story of families being born and babies turning into big kids and everything in between. Its that relationship between the light and the spirit, frozen in time for us to gaze at and cherish any time we want.
As far as I can tell, I am a photographer because I have to be. It’s who I am.
It’s the radiant energy in my heart, and the light of my spirit, that create the PHOTOGRAPHS I take.
So maybe its as simple as that.
I am a SOUL PHOTOGRAPHER… and you’ll find me where the light is.