By Nancy Hill
Everybody has a camera, so why should you bother taking pictures? Let someone else worry about shooting the family reunion, the kids, the sports. You can always ask them for prints. Right?
Maybe not. You could be missing out on a lot if you settle for someone else’s photos instead of learning to take good pictures yourself. Here are 10 reasons why it’s well worth the effort to learn to take good photographs yourself.
1. Photographs are personal. Only you know how you see the world.
Everyone views the world differently. Your perspective is unique. Your sister will not capture your family reunion like you would. She will focus on the kids, while you like how many generations are in your family. Your best friend with her fancy camera does sweeping landscapes. You were with her on the shoot. While she was fussing with her tripod, you were fascinated by the kids fishing with their mother. She never even thought to look. Only you can capture the world you live in. Leaving it up to anyone else will mean your vision is lost.
2. Photographs provide an historical record.
Maybe all those Little League games you go to seem tedious after a while, but 20 years from now, your kids will love looking at those pictures, recalling their glory moments (and they will remember some), the kids on their teams, and the coach who kept believing in them. Same goes for other things in your life. Taking photos of your house will remind you of what you once valued, and what your tastes were. Cars change, woods give way to roads, property is sub-divided, old homes are torn down. Having photos of how things are now will give you a record when things “ain’t what they used to be.”
3. Taking photographs will kick your brain into a creative mode.
Simply by looking through the camera and deciding what part of the scene in front of you belongs in the picture will kick your creative side into action. The more you shoot, the more your creativity will come out. It’s a wonderful part of you. Let it play.
4. Photography is great therapy.
This is close to number 3, but it goes beyond creativity. Photography can help you see the world differently. If you’re upset, grab your camera and go out looking for beauty. You’ll find it. If you’re down, spend an hour shooting photographs – of anything – your house, your yard, your city, flowers, animals. Life through a camera lens is full of wonder. Focusing on how the world around you looks can also help break through your negative thoughts.
5. Photography is a great way to make new friends.
Photographers – amateurs, hobbyists, and pros alike – love to talk about photography. You’ll never lack for company if you join a photography club. You’ll also learn a lot more about photography by someone who takes good photographs than you’ll ever learn in a book.
6. Photography is a way to share your life with others.
Sometimes it’s hard to talk to family members. Just because you share relatives doesn’t mean you have much in common. Sharing your photographs with them is a good way to break through barriers, to show someone what’s important in your life. You can also share travel photographs with groups interested in the area you visited. The photos you took of soil eroded around a river might be just what a environmental group needs to get a grant to save the area. The possibilities are endless.
7. Photography is a gift you can give others.
Cards with your photographs on them make great gifts, and a calendar of family photos is a perfect present for your parents who have everything they could possibly want or need. Getting cards and calendars made has never been easier; you can even have it done online. You can also use your photographs on mouse pads, shirts, mugs, and even postage stamps. What could be more personal?
8. Photography will improve your web site and/or blog.
Your words alone aren’t likely to keep people on your web site for very long, so you need to include graphics. You can always use someone else’s work, but your own will be easier, more personal, and say a lot about you. Don’t overlook the power of a good photograph. It can take your web site to a new level.
9. Photography brings accolades.
Your images might not make you famous, but being known as someone who takes good pictures is a real self-esteem builder. It’s great to hear, “Wow! That’s beautiful! Can I get a copy?” Even a simple, “You take such good photographs. How do you do it?” makes the effort worth while. Praise is good. None of us can get enough of it.
10. Photography can bring in money.
Yep, it’s true. Take good photographs, and chances are you can pick up some extra cash. Whether it’s taking your neighbor’s kid’s high school senior pictures, winning a little cash in a photo contest, or selling your cards on a web site, photography can bring in some extra cash. Maybe someone backs into your neighbor’s fence and they need a photo for court. Who knows, maybe you’ll get so good your work will be published in newspapers or magazines some day. You could start small. Lots of magazines, especially women’s magazines, pay $25-50 for cute kid shots. There are lots of possibilities.
The more you learn about photography, the better your photographs will be. The better they are, the more confidence you’ll have – not just in your photographs, but in yourself. Don’t waste another minute — Grab your camera and start shooting!