Why We Make Pictures

My friend Scott Tansey asked “instead of focusing on HOW we make images, I would like this conversation to explore WHY we make images.”

Thanks Scott, I think this is a fascinating topic and we can all likely learn from each other. I think some photographers simply shoot for the money and to me that is very sad. Way back in my days in newspaper I witnessed colleagues who would never touch a camera unless they were on the clock. I vowed back then that if I ever felt that it would be time to do something else.
I think other photographers find that through photography they can promote and elevate a cause that they truly believe in. So many photographers seem to have gotten their start photographing for NGO’s etc.
Others were likely given photography as a choice between two evils. Many friends became war photographers to document without “direct” involvement in the conflict. Many died in that process so in the end there was direct involvement.
I would love to hear from others as to why we all make images. For me personally I feel that I can communicate my visual experiences that remain with defiance to words. Words have a specific meaning and sometimes that is too confining. I was trying to explain a Yiddish word yesterday and realized that Yiddish is a language where the absolute translation doesn’t truly convey the meaning.
The physical act of  photography forces me into the moment and makes me look and think more than once, utilizing all of my senses and likely some new ones, increasing my own capacity for appreciation and understanding of the world around me.
I use the phrase photo therapy and I believe in it. Photography not only becomes an emotional response but it helps me personally explore my entire life and quite possibly lives before and after.
Through the camera I may also convey the sensation and emotional weight of the subject without any conventional boundary. By controlling time frozen we  allow viewers to examine that which attracts us for often indescribable reasons for an extended period of time. In essence we freeze time to give us more time to examine and understand.
It is through photography that I can tap into  memory and emotions that become part of my own personal psychic landscape. So why do you make images? Fill me in………

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