Finding My Purpose In Photography

Ashcroft Ghost Town, Aspen, Colorado

Ashcroft Ghost Town, Aspen, Colorado

Lately I have been thinking about the world of photography, which has exploded in the last 5 years because of technology and accessibility of the tools that are used to create a compelling images. Today more people are using some sort of camera and it also seems that everyone is calling themselves a photographer.   But the bigger question to ask is why? 

What makes people buy a camera and start photographing? Is it because of the ease or is it because of they want to share their world? I have asked this question many times to myself. Why do I photograph what I do and why do I spend endless hours of practice and education to be able to do this craft to the best of my ability?

When I sat with this question my first thought was to look at what type of photography I do because I believe there may lie the answer to why.

There are many genres of photography from portraits, landscapes, abstracts, street photography, pets, nature, wildlife, weddings, events, sports, macro, flowers, cats, cars, and I even know a photographer who built his business photographing snowflakes Don Komarechka from Canada. The first answer would be we photograph what we are most interested in or drawn to. But then the question still remains, why? Why are we spending so much time on this particular subject? Why do we want to do it better? Why do we want to share our vision? What is the purpose to diving in so deep and spending so much of our valuable time and money to create a single photograph?

I got my answer when I did my first article for the Draft Horse Journal back in June. I wrote an article about how farmers use what we call a "jerk line" to better communicate with their draft horses when plowing a field. This is a very old tradition that is fading  and has now become one of those old crafts similar to blacksmithing, pottery, or working with wood. 

What answered my question or purpose of why I love to photograph was brought to focus on the day my husband and I received the magazine in the mail and took a copy to the farmer so he could see the article. Keep in mind I am not fluent in the language of Dutch and particularly the dialect that they speak in the countryside of Belgium so my husband does all the talking as I sit and observe reactions through body language. And Josh could not read the english words and would have to have the article translated but the images in the magazine spoke volumes to him.

 We were sitting with the older couple as they turned page after page of beautiful photographs of draft horses, I began to see the delight in both of their eyes. They were enjoying the beautiful images of draft horses in the form of beautiful magazine.  But it was when they came to their article in the magazine that made me realize why I love doing the work I do.

When the couple turned the page to the article I wrote about them I witnessed  a very special moment. The old farmer's wife was filled with pride as she saw her husband's photograph in print, the article was evidence that what he has dedicated most of his life to, training draft horses to work, mattered not only to him and her but to others who enjoy this kind of work. His wife looked at him and he at her and I could read in their body language that this article confirmed to them that all the time, dedication, and sacrifice was worth it all.

At that moment I also realized that the time, practice, money, and educationI I do for my craft was worth the effort because they were showing me how valuable it was to them and how I could use this craft to serve others.

What I love to photograph can find it's way to someone else who also has a deep connection with the subject, wether it be an image of nature, a landscape of a place they dream of going, a passion they have dedicated their life to, or someone or something they love, it stirs a deep feeling within in us that maybe what we do and love has a purpose and place in this world.

Working on a craft that can serve others gives you more satisfaction and feeling of purpose than anything you could ever do just for yourself. We all have unique gifts, stories, and skills but finding a way to use them to bring value to others is what makes all the time and sacrifice worth it.

Here are a few images of Josh, the Belgian farmer whom the article was writing about.

Josh explaining about the Jerk Line method

Josh explaining about the Jerk Line method

Josh plowing using the Jerk Line

Josh plowing using the Jerk Line

Josh with his young Clydesdale who is in training

Josh with his young Clydesdale who is in training

Josh teaching the horse how to pull 

Josh teaching the horse how to pull 

If your interested in reading my articles  you can go to The Draft Horse Journal website.