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Your photographic legacy: realizing your power as a photo maker

The post Your Photographic Legacy: Realizing Your Power as a photo-maker first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Adam Welch.

I have had trouble approaching the subject and I remain uncertain even when I am typing. How can I start talking about such distant echoing ideas? I already know that you and I have a common thread: photography.

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I further assume that if you read this, you are a person who regularly takes photos. Maybe that is the perfect way to start; by knowing that you are a cameraman, just like me.

Because we are the same, I hope you understand what it means to be "a photographer" at a time when cameras are everywhere. Do you understand the power that you hold? It is the magnitude of this power that we will discuss.

With a little luck, these simple truths about our craft will not be anything new. Hopefully these ideas will be a soft reminder of the role you play in the photographic legacy.

On the other hand, if you have forgotten these facts or if you have never thought of them, today is a particularly important day for you.

Respect for work … respect for yourself

It is curious paradoxical that photography can be so incredibly personal and yet so impersonal. This is especially true for digital photography when often the work we produce remains essentially intangible and often untouchable.

Where other makers physically intersect with each other through drawing, painting, sculpting or cutting, we are only in a shared unique character. We use a machine to bring our expressions to life. We cannot touch what we capture with a sense of directness, and yet photography has become one of the most effective methods to bridge what we see with what we feel.

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As photographers, we need to understand the sheer craziness and complexity of what we do on a basic level. Our work is partly science, partly soul, partly philosophy and as such must be respected for the beautiful eccentric visual art that it really is.

Furthermore, you must have enormous respect for yourself and your fellow photography practitioners. Not by any sense of superiority, but rather by a sense of companionship.

We compete on occasion, for sure. We sometimes envy or criticize each other. Because the internet is internet, it is fairly easy to disassemble the work of others instead of building it up. We are only human. Yet it remains a fact that we will achieve more through positive attitudes and tasteful criticism than through thoughtless criticism and negativity.

I can assure you that we are all in this madness together.

Photography is the servant of history

Imagine a few historical images in mind. Ali is about Frazier. That child is running away from a napalm strike in Vietnam. The aftermath at Kent State. A lonely man staring into a tank in Beijing. Einstein sticks out his tongue in front of the camera.

All these moments, in a positive or negative sense, have solidified in history through photos. Photography carries monumental weight to bring awareness to the beauty and horrors that are present in the human condition.

It is undeniable that photography is the greatest asset for documenting the history the world has ever known.

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Each photo was taken by a man or woman who was present exactly at the time that these events took place. Just to be clear: the presence of a camera has been the catalyst for social, political and ecological changes for almost two centuries.

Where would we be without the pictures that take us into action and change the way we think about the world?

Photographers can strike anywhere with one photo.

Possessing the ability to potentially influence the entire course of civilization through what we do should fill us with a certain amount of pride, wonder, and ultimately a sense of concern. Think about that the next time you turn off your camera.

You can make a difference at any time and place through your photography.

You represent every photographer

If you tolerate me, I think it's necessary to tell a quick story about a friend of my woodworker; a story that in my opinion was the reason that I wrote this article.

A few weeks ago I witnessed a rather nasty situation on social media between my friend and another woodworker. Without injecting my own opinion, it was clear that the attitude towards my friend was generally rejected by most commentators.

I was fascinated (and comforted) by the fact that what seemed to shock people the most was the blatant lack of respect shown by one craftsman to another.

My thoughts immediately changed to the way we as photographers behave, both online and offline, and how that behavior influences the public perception of photographers.

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As cameras become more and more available to the masses, it is important to understand that we are all practitioners of an art form that dates back to the early 19th century. That is quite the legacy. What I mean by this is that the way we deal with our subjects and our environment while practicing our profession can be just as important as the photos we produce.

I witnessed moving "flying stones" at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, so their recordings could not be replicated. On countless occasions I have seen how cars were taken by bears behind a person who parked on the highway.

Perhaps most alarming of all, I have shockingly observed pretentious attitudes by professional photographers on those who are deemed "below" their perceived level of skill.

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Be courteous and respectful towards others, especially fellow photographers. Always be prepared to pass on what knowledge you have about the vehicle. Keep in mind that we are stewards of our art and tend to bring in many generations of photo makers.

Never fall victim to the kind of indifferent behavior that would belittle the legacy of photography.

Final thoughts ….

So what's the endgame here?

The keyword is ' realization & # 39 ;.

Realize that the role that photography plays in the world cannot be exaggerated, and your part in that story is just as important.

The way we approach photography is broadly a reflection of how we approach life and each has a similar outcome.

Keep in mind that you always remember the impact of the photos you take and how far the way you take those photos really goes. Photos carry a unique duality that occupies a cloudy space between other art forms.

Our cameras can create, record and even change history, but without you a camera is just a camera.

Consider the power that you have as a photographer and use it accordingly.

The post Your Photographic Legacy: Realizing Your Power as a photo-maker first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Adam Welch.

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