The Photographers responsibility to awe

The Photographers responsibility to awe

Every now and then something in your conscious life validates what has lingered in your subconscious or has been one of those innate things you’ve always held as true. It’s a feeling like discovering a flower bed has blossomed, exploded with color since you last passed. You’d paid no mind to the green buds and held no expectations of the sprouts and shoots. You enjoy a spontaneous,  jubilant moment of discovery.

Sometimes as photographers we can get locked into what we do. We can get caught in our niche’s (or ruts) or become too mechanical. That’s somewhere near the point you’ve lost the essence of “that feeling”; The passion, vision, or inspiration.

Your work should inspire (you should at least aspire to inspire), it should have the ability to take the viewer on a journey or to a rapturous place. The journey or place can be subjective to the viewer, that’s perfectly acceptable and should be expected. Echoing the message of Jason Silva (see below,) I state this to you the photographer “We have the responsibility to awe.”

The awe in a photographers work can come from “just” the photo itself or (often) the photos subject. Your capture of an infant with it’s mother can provide a moment of awe to grandma. Your capture of a storm front making its way over the landscape could mean a million things to a million people but only you as the photographer have the ability to craft that image to inspire awe in such a way.

The masters appear to create awe just by bringing their eye to the viewfinder. The rest of us, on the other hand, must toil. We labor toward understanding the singular moment of capture that will inspire. Seeing that moment may be easy, being prepared to bring it back for the rest of the world isn’t always as easy. Sometimes you can prepare for the unexpected, maybe just by learning from a previous surprise is preparation enough. Regardless, it’s what we should strive for, a labor we should embrace.

You can love appreciate your own photographs, however keep in mind that awe is not truly transferable. It can be easy to fall in love with your own work, trap that it is. They are personal, they are you. It’s when others see themselves in your work, then you have something.

Here’s a wonderful video from Jason Silva (@JasonSilva ) if you need “just a little more.”