Posted by: David Vernon | November 23, 2009

A Passion for the Image

Miles To Go

I have a couple things to get out there this week – and a ton of new images from last week – and I’m multi-tasking out the wazoo today but…

Don, the elder statesman of sorts over at Lighting Essential, has put up a wonderful post on passion in your work as photographers. I’ve quoted a piece of it here, a piece that we as photographers sometimes are referred to. I kept extending and extending the quote and then I realized I was leaving you nothing to read on his site. It really makes you think – about how hard you work at your craft and how it comes from the heart. And how it’s about so much more then the camera in your hands.

“I recently read on a forum this statement “…anyone with some knowledge of Photoshop can take any old crappy picture and make it great.” I was simply stunned (yeah, like them interwebs don’t continue to stun… I should be used to it). I think that statement summed up a lot of young approaches to photography. And by young I am not referring to chronological age, but the amount of time that one has spent working their craft. It is a shame. No other art form seems to have that low self-image from the artists that create it.

Imagine a musician showing up on a gig without having practiced or played his instrument for a year or two. (“Anyone with some knowledge of ProTools can record shit and make it really great.”)

Imagine a poet telling an interviewer “oh, I just write stuff down and then type it up over coffee while watching the soaps. (“Anyone with some knowledge of Word can type up shit, hit “Auto-Summarize” and have it sound pretty good.”)

Or imagine a world-class cook telling you “I rarely cook anything. It’s Taco Bell and Panda Express for me. Occasionally I make weenies and eat them with mustard. (“Anyone with some knowledge of a Wok can cook up gourmet food with world class appeal. Just add ‘sun dried’ tomatoes!)

Put me in the skeptical column when talking to the above ‘experts’.

Musicians play every day. For hours and hours. Poets write all the time, and we see maybe 2% of what they do. Cooks… well, they cook. A lot.

I am a photographer. I make images. I use tools to do that. Cameras and lenses, lights and the sun, film and bytes, papers, chemistry, inks, and a whole studio full of gear that helps me do one thing… make the best pictures I can. If it doesn’t help me make images, I don’t really need it. But tools are merely a medium for capturing, they are not the art. Without a camera, I cannot make a photograph. But without the best camera, I can still make a photograph that I love. I love my iPhone camera, and my little red Kodak P&S.

I take photographs with them. I make snapshots with them. I record moments and places to share with my daughter with them. I make pictures that help me relive the workshops or the shoot with that great model, and without any muss or fuss. They are capturing devices that let me make photographs everywhere, anytime and without thinking about anything but the image. They are practice tools for seeing.”

And what does it come down to?

“Passion. A passion for the medium of photography. A passion for the captured moment. A passion for connecting with people, the still image and a passion for perfection of the craft.

It’s all passion, baby. Without it, there are no tears, no desperate longing, no amazing joy no glow of success. Without passion there is no striving. When the road gets hard, the gear goes up on Craigs List. And the challenges are many, and they come at all levels. Without something driving you to get from where you are to where you want to be, the climb can be more difficult than imagined.”

We tend to do a lot of reflecting here in the week upcoming here in the US of A. So reflect on Don’s words and your passion for what you do. And come up shooting.


  1. Thanks David.

    We were discussing passion at a recent lunch here in Phoenix. Seems that so many times that after it turns from passionate art to ‘work’ the love of the image gets lost. In my experience, the ones who love photographs and the making of them are the ones that remain happy even if the ‘work’ is less than exciting.

    In order to make photographs one has to be able to SEE instead of LOOK at the world. And in that moment of ‘Seeing” there is so much to flood the senses that making the image catches and holds that thrill… hopefully transferring it somewhat to the beholder.

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