In my very amateur knowledge of photography, I would say there are two schools of approach to photography: Technology and Technicality, and Intuition and Luck. Most photographers have probably studied both of these approaches and find themselves on a spectrum of somewhere between the two. I would say since my point-and-shoot camera is also set on the AUTO button, I definitely subscribe to the latter. I love that photography is something I am still learning how to do, and also a medium for learning about my world.
Then there is the audience and purpose of photography: when it comes to my son, I am the audience and the purpose is largely for me. The photography is for the love and preservation of the subject in that moment. I can see photos of him a thousand times and show them off to others, but still, I am the one that has the true connection to the image.
There are great photographers that work in the press that are unsung heroes. I was inspired today by an NPR story on New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks. The story describes Hicks' work photographing untold stories of unknown victims in the Middle East and in Somalia. While the rest of the nation focuses on our bumbling economy here at home: our wealth of money and resources seemingly freezing, Hicks' photo tells a different story of what happens when there simply is no economy.
Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
While Michelangelo also said, “A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it,” this type of suffering is certainly not beautiful and even painful to those of us who are not subjected to this kind of thing. But maybe because of Hicks' work, we will no longer fail to hear and see it, and the beautiful thing will be the action his work can evoke: empathy and compassion for the rest of humanity,
rather than the self-serving politics we typically seek in our country.
The best photographers view the world with their eyes and minds wide open. Because of this, they are the eyes for the rest of us who are blinded by comfort or self-interest to the plights of others. They show us the true beauty of nature than constantly renews and remakes itself, rather than the transient superfluities created by man. In a frame they have the power to evoke emotions: sometimes those emotions are indulgent and sometimes they move us to change.