When was the last time you can remember having fun with your photography? Not the joy of landing a photography job or the excitement of nailing that one photo, but rather childlike fun while shooting.
For many, photography is a job that pays the mortgage, puts food on the table, and keeps the lights on. While these photographers enjoy their work as an attorney or engineer may like the work they do, these photographers do it because they can make a living doing it and it’s something that is enjoyable to them. There is nothing wrong with that in the least bit. However, for many, photography is a side business or merely a hobby that they enjoy pursuing in their spare time.
Recently while reading the numerous articles here at Fstoppers, I began to notice how many of the articles were focused on gaining followers or clients, the best gear, you need to do this to improve your images, and so on. Of course, these articles are terrifically written by my fellow Fstoppers writers, and I enjoy reading and learning from them myself. My issue is not with these articles. No, it is more with the photography community that seems to be driven either by a focus on business or being the best.
What I noticed is how few of the articles, and for that matter, the readers’ comments to the articles, focus on the fun and excitement that can come with photography. Sure talking about new gear can be exciting as can learning a new Photoshop technique. Yet there is little discussion on the fun encountered while shooting. Photography can be a solo experience much of the time, and I recently wrote an article about why I joined my local chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers. One key reason was to experience the fun of being around other photographers. While this has been an excellent experience for me, it has not entirely addressed that childlike fun that I mentioned at the beginning of this article.
The childlike fun I’m referring to is the enjoyment or excitement that occurs naturally when one is pursuing an activity. Remember playing with your childhood friends on a summer day? You didn’t think I’m doing this because this will make me better. No, you did it because it was fun, it made you excited and made you laugh. You couldn’t wait to get out there with your friends.
This brings me to reason for the lead image to this article and the catalyst for this article. The image is of our family dog Zach that I recently photographed with the help of my wife and my 15-year-old daughter. There was no reason I needed to photograph Zach. He didn’t request a headshot. I didn’t need an image of a dog for any client, nor was I testing a new lighting setup. I’m not looking to enter the world of pet photography and from the quality of the image should I attempt to enter that world.
The reason for the picture was merely to have some fun with Zach, my wife, and my daughter. We were hanging out in the house on a winter evening, and I was kind of looking for something to do when Zach walked into the room, and I had the idea of photographing him. After a little persuading of my wife and daughter, we were in the studio attempting to photograph Zach.
Zach is a great dog, but since he’s a rescue dog, he doesn’t have the basic dog training mastered. This lack of training for Zach led the three of us to some rather unique attempts to get Zach in the correct position, or indeed any position that I could photograph. With my daughter being the talent handler, my wife being the grip, and of course, me being the shooter it was like a three ring circus. The amount of confusion from all of us barking orders at poor Zach became hilarious for all of us. Zach didn’t seem to mind the tennis ball and the cheese we tried to bribe him with. Later when we viewed the many near-miss images, and the completely missed images lead to another period of laughter and joy.
The more I think about photography, and what I want out of my photography, the more I realize I need to involve more fun times in my shooting. Don’t get me wrong, I find pleasure in the business side and improving my images, but I think having more fun with other people is going to make me a better photographer and person.
I’m sure many of you have some stories of times when you simply had fun with your photography. Why not relive those times by sharing the story with the Fstoppers community?