When is photography worth it

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by elmartinj, May 9, 2018.

  1. elmartinj

    elmartinj Member

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    So, I decided to just put this out there because it's been a little nuissance in the back of my head for a month or so. I started onto film photography a year ago out of curiosity and a little to honor my father (lost him through 2016). And I've been happilly shooting and discovering things on the path. At first I took my film to a lab. Then, I started developing. And it's been a hell of a journey, bit of a lonely one, since in this country, there's significantly less shooters I figure.

    But I've also encountered myself with the burden of feeling it to be a little meaningless. Sometimes, even, a little dark, since I've encountered a few problems along the way of taking an image. The thing is, I somehow feel I can't stop doing it because I've been liking it so much and since my temper is a little obsessive and I tend to really get into things (getting cameras, shooting, developing, repeating). . And here I come with my question: Why/when is it worth it? When is an image worth the trouble? Especially while doing it without an intention to sell it. It's not like I think it's not worth it, but I guess my reasons are personal and adhere to my story. I'd like to know yours.
     
  2. P.johnson14

    P.johnson14 Subscriber

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    It lowers my blood pressure and gets my mind off of working 60hrs a week. If I get a good shot, great. If not, hey, what did I learn and how will I apply that learning.
     
  3. TonyB65

    TonyB65 Member

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    It's only worth it if you're getting something positive out of it. I started shooting film again about 18 months ago, and co-incidentally, partially in memory of my father also, who was a keen film photographer who built his own darkroom etc. He passed away over 20 years ago so me taking up shooting film seemed fitting, even after all that time, though it wasn't the only reason. I now love shooting film, and have been on a journey like you, learning to develop and now am going to start wet printing. Is it worth it? well for me it is, I'm enjoying it far more than digital photography, which left me cold after a few years, not enough of a challenge, too clinical in appearance and just wasn't leaving me fulfilled in any meaningful way. Shooting film is far more of a craft, much more challenging in getting the results you want, but when I do I feel I've really worked for it, it's a risk reward thing.
    I'm now getting great results, shooting Medium format and occasionally large format, and love every minute of it. I imagine my father smiling down on me now, especially as even though we have digital, I'm doing what he loved. So for me I'm getting loads out of it, I shoot less but get more, I feel much more connected to my photos, they mean much more to me, because I've sweated to get them. Who can say whether its worth it for you? you need to find meaning in what you're doing, if you don't feel connected to it you should give it up and do something else, shooting film is too much of a commitment to do it half-heartedly. I hope you do feel connected and engaged in it, because that's what really matters in my opinion.
     
  4. slackercrurster

    slackercrurster Member

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    OP...I do street and social doc photography. It is like fishing, you can throw in a line, but no guarantee you will get anything.

    If you don't feel it is worth it swap hobbies. I can't say photography is always enjoyable. With me it is hard work. But if freezing time is in your blood, then you are stuck.
     
  5. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    It is worth it to me simply because I like to look at my photos. Sometimes it is enjoyable planning how I will make the photo.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi OP

    its only worth it if you choose to make it worth it. its like anything.
    there really is no value you can put on the process. like anything,
    it takes time and effort.
    if you are enjoying yourself isn't that worth it ?

    for me, i don't know if any of it is worth it. i can go out
    and make exposures and develop them and maybe print or scan them
    but IDK for the past handful of years its just somehting i do out of habit.. not so much
    out of finding value in it.
     
  7. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Member

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    Developing film doesn't really mean anything. Or taking it digitally.
    To me it is only worth it, if I want to print it.
    Sales has nothing to do with worth it. I have seen crapshots for sale or as paid photography. Sales and photography are irrelevant.
     
  8. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    jnanian stated it well. It will be enjoyable and worthwhile if you choose to make it so.
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    You mentioned in another thread that you are a mathematician.
    Most likely then you will understand a mathematical analogy.
    I get value from the process of observing something and then using photographic tools to render that something into a photographic result, where the result itself is interesting/beautiful/intriguing/informative/....
    Some of the joy and satisfaction results from when the rendering is done in an elegant manner.
    Just as a mathematical proof is inherently more satisfying if it is an elegant proof.
    Much of the value of photography is subjective, but everyone - mathematicians included - gain value from the subjective.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    elmartinj

    elmartinj Member

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    Thank you for your replies, I've found them to be very enriching.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    elmartinj

    elmartinj Member

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    Hadn't thought of that. I think that's a wonderful perspective :smile:
     
  12. Billy Axeman

    Billy Axeman Subscriber

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    Long term, photography can serve as a steady thread in your life to which you can return at any moment if you need calm, notably when you are doing it already for some time, and part of it has become routine.

    Also, after you gained experience, it is rewarding to be able to produce beautiful pictures, knowing that not everybody can achieve the same result because you invested your time getting skilled.

    Two things must be avoided in life: asking yourself if what you are doing is useful, and reading the news.
     
  13. Kino

    Kino Subscriber

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    I find photography to be pointless and irritating when I find myself overly concerned how others will judge my work.

    When I do it for the satisfaction of ordered processes, and my own personal gratification, it returns to being pleasurable (and i do better work).
     
  14. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I find the self-improvement is worth it. The ego-boosts are nice.
     
  15. slackercrurster

    slackercrurster Member

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    OP...the bored photogs problem is that he has no reason to shoot. You can only get so much satisfaction in saying 'I shoot film.' Especially if your reality is; you seldom do shoot film. It does not matter if you shoot film or digital, having a great project is very important to the photog. A project gives a photog direction and purpose. A project can showcase the photogs talents. Many great photogs are known for landmark projects they have done. I'd advise any bored photogs to find a project and devote themselves to it.
     
  16. Billy Axeman

    Billy Axeman Subscriber

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    Too much emphasis on projects. A project is good when it comes natural, but too often people think you can only be a serious photographer with a project (or several), because they are telling everybody what kind of projects they are doing. So it is much better not to have a project or give your activities another name.
     
  17. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I think it's always worth it, for a variety of reasons.

    1- It's a pursuit in which learning is never ending. No one knows everything about photography. The desire to keep learning about it is good for the mind, as well as the soul (especially as one ages).

    2- As we've trained our eyes for finding photographs, we've also trained them to be more aware of the world. We're better at noticing our surroundings than people who don't deal in visual language. Detail, contrast, symmetry, etc. jump out at us. We see tension and harmony, often in juxtaposition.

    3- Every once in awhile, we're gifted with a photograph which is visually pleasing, both to ourselves and others. The satisfaction derived from creating something of lasting aesthetic value, with our own hands, is immeasurable. It's something most of the world never experiences.
     
  18. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    if it's not worth it, why are people doing hit for almost 200 years?
     
  19. Nige

    Nige Member

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    A common fishing statement is... When you go fishing, catching something is a bonus! Something like that.
     
  20. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I have been involved with the art, technique, calling, or any other description you care to name it since around 1962. The emotional sensation I get from it varies from pure satisfaction to utter despair and is it worth it? YES it is. I can retreat in to my darkroom which doubles up as an office where I can use chemicals to make prints, both B&W and colour or swing around and do the same on my computer. Turn on the radio and immerse myself into another world.

    I do it mainly for pure enjoyment but recently I have become involved with our industrial heritage, principally the works and historical artifacts of the great British Victorian Engineer, George Stevenson and have found a new outlet for my skills. Yes they are mainly record images but what a terrific amount of information I have learned about the workings of his mind and how skillful he was. This was a man who had only basic education and no formal training in engineering, either civil or mechanical, just plain common sense of how things could be done. He transformed the world with his locomotives, bridges, and other civil and mechanical engineering masterpieces. In all senses of the word a true genius!

    Without photography this would have never happened to me.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
  21. Ste_S

    Ste_S Member

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    I think you're overthinking it to be honest. Do you enjoy photography ? If so then carry on, it's meaning is something that gives you happiness.

    Most people here can emphasise with being a little obsessive - there's nothing wrong with this as long it's not detrimental to other things in your life.
     
  22. ReginaldSMith

    ReginaldSMith Subscriber

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    WOW- - - I very well could have said those EXACT words!

    Often at night, I daydream about a photo I want to make, or hope to find to shoot. I have taken some of those dreams and built that photo at just the right location.

    I can and do spend hours looking at my photos. Not just analysing them, although I do that too, but remembering what's on the photograph. It gives me roughly the same feelings as reading a great novel. The photos are stories, and often many are connected by certain ideas I had at the time.

    We're all passing the time as we wait for death to arrive. I find looking at photos to be as good a way to pass that time as any other.
     
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