Why I do it

I live in pursuit of grasping whatever truth I can. 

Let’s get this sorted! I am generally NOT a fan of the bland 'blah blah’ which is the nature of most mission statements. Regardless, I did once see one, from a rather famous coffee shop, which included ‘We have to make sufficient profit to provide our customers with the service they deserve’. I think that statement is a fully grasped, simple truth.

However, there is more! What follows is just a little more about the philosophy of why I take photographs.

Photography is full of interesting choices. Very often these are contradictions with resulting compromises and trade-offs.

Often, I will grab the camera and just start shooting. To quote Wayne Gretzky, the great ice hockey player, ‘I find that I miss 100% of the shots which I don’t take’. Those shots taken immediately, with little thought, often yield good results. They are shots I might have missed if I hadn't acted quickly. However, the very best shots often need a deal of thought, some experiment, and come when you slow down, take a breath, think about the situation, explore and walk around it, take a break, look and think again, and possibly find some of the honest truth of a person or a situation. 

I have not especially liked it when people have suggested that I am left-brained, suggesting that I live in the realm of logic. It is probably an easy conclusion as I have spent a good amount of my working life as a teacher of mathematics and computing. However, tests have confirmed my belief that I live equally in the two halves of my brain, that I am equally in touch with the more emotional and creative side. And! To me, this is one of the fascinations of photography, the need to live in the both sides of your brain simultaneously and, as a generalisation, to do so equally. You do have to exercise calm, calculated control of the machine in your hands whilst not losing sight of the need to create the best image. It needs an equal grasp of the technical and the artistic to tell the best story possible.

That, to me is another large part of the fascination of photography. Many times I have said that the number one rule for taking beautiful photographs is to point your camera at beautiful things. However, it is not given for most of us to point our cameras at The Taj Mahal, or at Halle Berry, or whatever else might take your fancy, on a daily basis. Therefore, there must be more to photography than simply pointing the camera at the beautiful. It seems to me that part of the ‘art’, or the ‘craft’, of photography must be to present the subject in the best way possible. Hopefully we can do that in an interesting, even thought provoking, possibly unusual and even beautiful way. As with other ‘arts’, much of this might be achieved by finding some truth.

Supporting this view, in conversations with others, I have found that I myself very much judge my own photographs by whether or not I think I made the best of the situation. Sometimes others might think a photograph is very good, when I myself am actually dissatisfied. This is usually because I think there was a better photograph which I could have taken.

Above is just a small part of 'why'. In summary, photography is a fascinating challenge on all sorts of levels, a challenge to be present and to live as much in the head and heart as each photographic opportunity demands.

Richard Messenger- photomessenger