I ask people on my tours and workshops the following questions. "Do you remember when you picked up your first camera?" and "What does photography mean to you?"
The answers, well, they are as diverse as the people that come on my tours and workshops. Some started taking photos for personal reasons, some out of personal tragedy as therapy, some pick it up to get themselves outside to get exercise, while some just like expressing themselves artistically, or in my case, I first picked up my camera when my baby brother was born, and then later in my life as a way to keep myself busy at night while I traveled for work.
While I appreciate listening to everyone's answers, hearing their own personal journey... what i really enjoy is seeing all these strangers work together to share their knowledge and ideas... whether they shoot Nikon, 4/3rds or Canon, whether they are seasoned photographers that sell prints, or just picked up a camera, each helping each other on their respective personal growth to create great images.
Then, after 7 to 14 days, perfect strangers part ways as friends... friendships that remain long after their time they spent with me... and I see it on social media, and enjoy when they travel back together on one of my tours or workshops.
You see, for me, photography isn't always about taking photos, its about the people you meet, in front of your camera, and beside you. Its about the experiences that we all enjoy while we travel.
Some of the most memorable experiences I have ever had while on a photography tour or workshop had nothing to do with a camera... but it had everything to do with a personal connection I made with another human being.
I remember sitting in a meadow in the Yukon waiting for the sun to paint the autumn colours with someone that was travelling with me for the first time... our conversation turned to our families, and discovering our common ground... that person has now travelled with me four times. A friendship has been forged and we talk all the time even though he is a 5 hour flight away from me...
I remember talking to an Eagle hunter in western Mongolia through a translator... that one eye opening conversation, after the camera was put away, forever changed my outlook on different cultures around the globe.
Photography for me has become a personal journey. A vessel by which I give myself permission to travel the globe and enrich my life. The photos i take along the way are amazing opportunities, and i love to share them all with you... teaching you is an honor and I love to see the looks of amazement on all of your faces when you take photos you are proud of; but its the relationships that i have forged, and the visual memories that I will keep with me always. These are the things that really matter to me... and the camera, it has come to mean more to me than just a way to capture a moment.
Only you can answer the question, "what does photography mean to you". I encourage you to think about it...
When you ponder what you really get out of taking photos in your neighborhood or some exotic location, I think you might be surprised just what and who photography has brought to your life.
Have a great day everyone,