Friday, February 27, 2009


Passion is essential to all art forms. Regardless of whether it's painting, music, building something, sculpture, photography, or anything else, it's the passion in what we do that transfers our thoughts and emotions into the outcome of our efforts. Passion helps us to realize our vision and achieve our goals.

In my opinion, passion is very necessary to achieving success (however you define success) in your photography. If you're not passionate about what you're shooting, you're probably going to end up with less successful results that you envisioned.

Finding subjects that you're passionate about is one of the easiest ways to improve your photography because passion makes you explore your subjects more and try harder to accurately express the impact that they have on you.

Here's a perfect example. Last autumn we were going through a patch of bad weather so I didn't get many chances to get out and do photography. One day when the weather cleared, I went out to shoot. I didn't really have anything in mind, I just went for a hike and wanted to try to make some nice pictures. As I was walking, I wasn't seeing anything that inspired me. There were just bare trees and fallen leaves everywhere.

After being out for about an hour I was thinking to myself, "Great hike, but I haven't taken a single nice picture yet". I wanted to take nice pictures, but nothing was motivating me. Finally I came across a rock that had some nicely colored leaves that had fallen on it in a nice pattern, so I started to take pictures of it. An angle here, an angle there. Then I started reviewing the pictures. They sucked.

When I thought about it, I realized that I didn't give a damn about that rock and I knew that I would never use those pictures for anything. They were pointless. I had no passion whatsoever for that subject and that lack of passion transferred directly into my pictures. I was just trying to "take some nice pictures" regardless of how I felt about the subject.

Contrary to that day with the rock, one day when I was out taking care of some business I ran across a dilapidated barn in a field that was definitely past its best days. It had holes in the roof and sides, broken windows, shattered doors, vines growing inside, etc. I thought to myself, "This is great! I can take so many great shots of this barn"! I proceeded to spend about an hour walking around it shooting all different kinds of shots and angles, and they turned out to be some of the standout pictures in my library.

Without even really thinking about it, it dawned on me that I like taking pictures of old abandoned buildings. They interest me. I think about what they were once used for. What happened to them? Who left it here? Why is it still here? What's inside? What would happen if some nice sunlight shined through that broken window late in the day? In other words, I have passion for that subject. I want to explore it and take pictures of it to transfer those same emotions into photos that others can look at.

In photography, you need to find subjects that inspire you...that make you say "Wow!"....that you can't wait to get out and shoot. You have to find subjects that make you want to explore them from different angles, in different lighting, in different seasons, etc. When you strike on these subjects and themes, go shoot! You'll probably see that your pictures are much more interesting and effective than when you shoot something that you don't care about.

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