Whether you've just bought your first camera, or you've been taking pictures for decades, taking a picture that matters, matters. So, what was your last creation that did?
The aims of our photography has evolved over the years. Where once we were satisfied with an intimate family reception of positivity to our prints, now it seems anything short of tens of thousands of likes, a few hundred comments, and numerous meaningless awards will suffice. That said, your personal reaction and feelings toward one of your photographs is not to be disregarded, and sometimes, it can completely eclipse the white noise of social media, whether it's a roaring success or it slipped quietly into the void.
Sometimes, these images come in the form of photojournalism; sometimes, they capture a moment that resonated with you; and sometimes, it's an image of a loved one. Whatever the reason, if you're lucky, you capture an image that matters. To whom it matters isn't necessarily the point — although mattering to the photographer who took it is fairly central — but rather that it matters at all is the focus. So, my question to you is: what was the last photo you took that mattered? I'll give you some of my own examples.
My grandad has been a keen footballer all his life, playing in local teams (and scoring he'll be quick to add) as late as 56 years old. In his younger years, he played for Earlsmead FC, a team in London, and as you can see in the top photo, won the league in 1951. To his and my surprise, in 2017, we found that the team still exists, so I contacted them. To compound the surprise, the owner of the team is the grandson of the owner from when my grandad was in the squad. They were thrilled to hear that my grandad was still alive and kicking and invited him down for a game. It was a great day: the team had a shirt (jersey) made up for him, and Grandad enjoyed every second.
But there was a moment where everything became poignant for me, a palpable nostalgia is the only way I can articulate the feeling, really. More accurately, it was an acute awareness of time. I was standing behind my grandad, a man who was 88 at the time, watching a team he used to play for, on a pitch he used to play on. The moment felt important, so I snapped it. The picture is average at best — I hold it in no high regard, technically speaking — but it matters to me. I look at it and see a man who had his go and was forced aside by time, now an onlooker. It's become an important photograph to me, and for that reason, it matters.
Of over 100,000 photographs I have taken, this average, rather flat, dull (to most) photograph is one of my most memorable to me. It's one of my own shots that is part of an elite club of just a handful of pictures I have created that haven't faded away from my attention or affection.
So, whether you captured a moment you treasure, or you were lucky enough to immortalize an instant that meant a lot to someone else, share it in the comments below along with the story. There are no wrong answers and absolutely no criticism necessary, constructive or otherwise. It doesn't have to be a portrait, it doesn't have to be compositionally flawless, and it doesn't have to be recent; it just has to matter. What is an image you created that really mattered to you or somebody else?