Have you ever looked through a photo album and marveled over particular pictures? Have you ever gazed upon a particular photo and considered it so uniquely attractive that you wished all your photography could be of that quality? Maybe you get a thrill from capturing a moment in time and preserving it for eternity. Maybe you just like going places and taking free mementos of your travels. Maybe you ought to consider taking up photography a little more permanently if you find yourself agreeing with any of these ideas.
There is much truth to the saying that pictures speak a thousand words. Johann Zahn laid down the first design for a camera in 1685, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce used his newly devised heliography to produce the world’s earliest surviving photograph in 1825 and in 1840 Alexander Walcott devised the first camera that produced lasting photographs – i.e. ones that did not fade quickly. Since then, photography has depicted history, culture, landscapes, wildlife and a rich host of other fields and is a key to understanding our past, our present and in many cases our future as well.
Think about photographs you have taken yourself or photos of yourself that were taken by other people. What moments did you seek to capture and preserve? What do the photos tell you about yourself and your surroundings? Do they tell you anything about your life in that moment in time? Perhaps you’re blowing out the candles on your first birthday cake.
Maybe you’re graduating from university after years of hard work. Maybe you’re getting married. You could be celebrating any significant milestone in your life or career. Now think how you would feel if you had no pictorial remembrances of those times. The significance of photography becomes crystal clear. Some people may feel that photographs of loved ones who have passed away keeps their memory alive in a way that few other methods can. Others will instantly relive the happiest times of their life when they see just a single photo of it.
While photographs help to preserve the best moments of our lives, they have other uses too. Photographs are an excellent means of education and opening our eyes to the world around us.
We may see exotic beaches and picturesque villages around the world in travel brochures and decide that we want to visit them for ourselves.
We may see photos of warzones or famines and be so moved that we resolve to make charitable donations to help those who are suffering. Alternatively, we may see photos of athletes winning races, which then leads us to read up about them and discover they have overcome enormous personal struggles to succeed, thereby inspiring us.
Furthermore, photography preserves not only our own memories, but also history. We can look at photos of bygone eras stretching back to the Victorian age and learn the lessons of the past. In some cases, photography is a key means of preserving history which is otherwise lost. Many historical monuments, buildings and artefacts have been lost over the years and no longer exist save for their photographic legacies.
Aside from the practical benefits of preservation and education, photography can bring great personal benefits as well. In moments of sadness or ill health photographs, be they ones you have taken yourself or ones featured in magazines and online, can bring colors and comfort to a troubled soul.
They can direct your attention elsewhere as well as provide inspiration and ideas as to your next holiday destination, day out or shopping trip. Certain types of photography, most especially those depicting the countryside; lush, rolling hills, winding streams and green fields, can evoke feelings of tranquility and peace which can aid in combating stress and other negative emotions.
Photography is a form of art. It is a creative process. To borrow a phrase, photography can get the creative juices flowing within us. Once we have created something, we automatically feel a sense of accomplishment. Creativity is also very good for improving one’s self-esteem. Ultimately, the quality of the photograph is immaterial. The sense of creating something and achievement is what matters. And, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
Apart from psychological benefits, there are also numerous physical advantages to taking up photography as a hobby or career. To begin with, photography will mostly require us to go outside into the fresh air and, often, the sunshine. Searching for ideal locations and subjects brings exercise with it, regardless of how near or how far you travel from home. It is also possible that photographing your
town and/or the surrounding areas and viewing the pictures afterwards will teach you something about your home that you didn’t know previously. Photography offers a fresh perspective on even the most mundane of topics. For those people who want to exercise more but find it a chore or boring, taking a camera and looking for suitable subjects for photographs can make all the difference.
Finally, photography can provide friendship. There are numerous ways of meeting people via photography. First, there is social media. Even something as simple as a like or a comment on a Facebook or Twitter photo can lead to friendly interactions with like-minded people. Additionally, there is the option of joining this photography course or message forum groups, either online or in your area. Often these provide opportunities to meet like-minded people, to exchange photographs and stories and to make new friends.
Ultimately, photography is a wonderful means of viewing the world through – literally – a different lens, of preserving our memories and our history, of self-improvement and meeting new people. It is also a means of channeling our creative sides and the best thing about it is that everyone can do it, including you!
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