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We, as humans, take more pictures now than we ever have. We visually document more things in a day than have ever been documented in the whole of humanity.

For example: “In 2014, according to Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report, people uploaded an average of 1.8 billion digital images every single day. That’s 657 billion photos per year. Another way to think about it: Every two minutes, humans take more photos than ever existed in total 150 years ago.” (source The Atlantic)

What are we taking pictures of and is it really photography? Since the market saturation of smart phones that have better cameras than most people could have obtained even 15 years ago we take more pictures than ever before.

What are we taking pictures of? Go through the pictures on your phone right now, it’s okay I’ll wait……….A lot of stuff that seemed important at the time? Screenshots? Stuff you thought was cool? It’s alright, it’s your camera take pictures of what’s important to you. The question is, what is photography.

If we just make photos for the sake of making photos that’s one thing. It’s when you start making photos that make you feel something, that is photography, to me at least.

Deep down when you look at photography, it is a bit of magic. Take a film photograph. A lightproof box, holding some light sensitive chemicals applied to a thin strip of plastic is exposed through the mechanical process of light, that originated from our Sun or artificial source. Those photons, that act as both a wave and a particle, bounce off the subject at different wavelengths (color) that then is passed through and is focused by a series of curved and shaped glass in a barrel that is restricted from it’s full opening, past a curtain that opens from anywhere from 8 seconds to 1/4000th of a second letting in just that amount of light to hit the chemicals. Those chemicals are then exposed to other chemicals fixing the image on the plastic.

How a camera works – dSLR

This process is pretty much the same for digital, just replace the chemicals with photosensitive sensors that interpret, via a computer, the light that is reaching the sensor. It really is magic that it works at all, and you get to freeze time with the push of a button. That arrangement of light and subject will never exist again as it did when you took the picture. -Mind blown-


Photography has only recently been considered a form of art. When the concept of photography first came along it was derided as a lazy form of painting. You just capture images of things you see. With the early equipment, it was hard to even create an image that was true to life. Painting was the preferred method for capturing still life.

As history has moved along, pictures, I would include moving images in here also, since it’s just taking a bunch of pictures really fast, has been accepted as a form of art, it’s the digital side that is slowly gaining acceptance. On par with film.

So we have a lot of pictures from a lot of photographers making a lot of photography. What comes to mind when you think of photography? News images from a war zone? Beautiful landscapes from Ansel Adams, Fine art black and white images? Why don’t we consider the picture I took of some tomatoes at the grocery store to ask my wife if they were the right kind Photography?

I think we have to separate photos into at least two categories. Capital “P” photography and lower case “P” photography. Let me explain.

When you take a picture that has a meaning to you. Whatever the subject, that is Photography. When you take a picture to convey information or to help you remember a note you wrote down, that is photography. Make sense yet? No, yeah me too.

Like any other art form Photography is subjective, what you like and what elicits an emotional response from you, might not do the same for someone else. I can look at a Picasso and not really be moved or even care all that much, but show me impressionist paintings from the Renaissance masters and I usually can find the beauty in it. Same thing for photos.

Some people really like gritty, in your face street photography, some enjoy epic landscapes. I enjoy images that capture some of the ordinary everyday life. Images that posses a lived in feel. Old abandoned buildings and broken down cars get me every time. I want to know the story of the people who occupied those spaces.

So what is photography? It’s whatever you want it to be. Regardless of the medium being film, digital, alternative process. It’s not the camera, vintage film camera, modern digital, smart phone, whatever. Or even how the image is presented to us, either print or on a screen. Photography and what makes it art or even just something special is totally in the eye of the beholder, much like beauty.