Why I Shoot
May 21, 2014
I've spent a lot of time thinking about my reasons for taking photos, as well as my reasons for sharing them. There seems to be this idea among the self-declared purists of photography that if you aren't just shooting for the love of the craft, and for the sake of the art, that you are somehow damaging the sanctity of photography and wasting your time. No matter how much time I spend going through possible reasons this could be true, I never find any.
What I do find, is that every time I mention the difficulty of making money from photography—something I love—someone will come along and say that I should simply "do it because I love it." They say this to me as if I haven't been doing so all along, or as if one can't simultaneously love something and make money from it.
Many people have asked me in the past if I'd consider moving into wedding photography, or fashion photography, and my answer has always been no. The reason for their question is usually because they know there's money to be made in those specific facets of photography, but I have never considered taking either route with my work. That's because those types of photography have never interested me in a way that would motivate me to do it on a regular basis, even for pay. I think both types of photography are beautiful and take a ton of talent, but that statement can be applied to any photography, really. The defining factor for me has always been the love. I can't commit to doing weddings or fashion full-time if it means condemning my loves of street photography and music photography to a sometime flirtation.
I love photography, honestly and truly. It really is a lot of things for me. It's a form of communication–a way to speak to a large audience in a way that requires no vocabulary. My cityscapes are love letters to New York, sent in self-addressed, stamped envelopes. I love the city so much, and photography lets me continue to see it with eyes of wonder. Not only that, but I always hope that each time I share an image that someone will look up from their day to day business and feel some of that wonder for themselves. When it happens, it's one of the best feelings.
I went to my first concert in 2005, three years before I picked up my first SLR. It was crowded and loud...and I loved every second. I'm from one of the most crowded cities in the US, and I usually shy away from large groups and noise, but there's something different in the air at a concert. Just about everyone has a common agenda in that they all want to enjoy some live music, and that really sets it apart from other crowded moments, like being on a subway. The atmosphere is automatically more welcoming, and what's better, there's a soundtrack.
It would be 7 years before I'd set foot in a music venue with a camera, but I knew that it was something I wanted to do. Much like my love of New York, my love of music is long-standing. If I could think of a way to bottle that energy and put it on a shelf for all to see, surely photography was the right avenue to take. Not only that, but it was another way to reciprocate the love each artist put into their performances.
It's a dream of mine to have my work grace the pages of Rolling Stone or any other magazine someday. Naturally, that is something I'd want to be paid for, but it's also something I would absolutely love.
So don't tell me that I should do it for the love, because I do. I do that every day, and nothing would make me happier than sharing my point of view with the biggest audiences possible. Don't make anyone feel bad for wanting recognition or pay for something that they do well, because love of the art and the ability to be compensated for creating art should not be mutually exclusive.