Focus on what’s important

Focus on what’s important… pun intended. I’m not addressing lens focus or how to get sharp images. I’m sorry if that is your main concern right now in photography. If that is the case just google search tutorials on autofocus, zone focusing or micro-adjustments. When I state ‘focus’ what I’m expressing concern about is what’s the purpose, meaning, emotion or reason for your photographs. What is the function of your photographs aside from displaying an aesthetically pleasing visual?

Ask yourself this question, “what do you want people to do when they see your photographs?” What do you want them to feel, or do physically? Do you want your viewers to think, contemplate, buy something, hold, share, remember, cry, question, act, like, thumb-scroll, start a discussion or print? What do you want viewers of your photos to do? It’s a question very few of us photographers ask or think about outside of commercial work. Outside of commercial photography we hardly ever think about the viewer, why should we when our work is personal? But if we’re honest with ourselves most of us want recognition, praise or some form of an ego boost. As a photographer we mainly think about ourselves and the subject matter, never the viewer outside of commercial work.

So what is important about your work, your practice, your photography? Are you taking photographs for an archive, historical purposes, to sell some clothes or promote a notable course? If so great, but what about the photograph? Is it the main focus to be a vessel for another function or purpose? Let me put it this way, a wedding photographer is capturing a special moment, so their clients can remember their special day (simplifying). A fashion photographer is photographing apparel to help sell it (simplifying). A forensic photographer is taking photographs for analysis, evidence and for historic reference in a case (simplifying). The photograph is just a vessel, a form of medium that is documenting something for a specific purpose or function. So what are you photographing for? What is the purpose or function of your photographs and who wants that?

What are you trying to express or share? Where do you want your photos final resting place to be? On a social media platform or frame on a wall? What would a plaque next to your work say? I hope it’s not something like “My photographs are capturing the human condition” what a clique and derivative statement. If we are honest with ourselves somewhere in there is our ego that wants recognition and praise. So what do you take photographs for, honestly and truthfully?

The interesting thing is what you deem important within your photography practice is. If its making money, selling work, getting more likes, selling your work in a gallery, having your work printed in a publication or to put in your family album. Whatever it is, it’s noble to you. I only hope that whatever you do, whatever you capture there is integrity in it. There is purpose and meaning, even if the purpose is to be meaningless, there is still the intention. I hope when you physically press that shutter button your focusing on what is important.

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