A friend once asked me if my view of the world is limited by my propensity to photograph it. She was concerned that perhaps I was missing some of it by hiding behind the lens, and hence missing experiences – which is why I travel in the first place. I thought about her comment for a bit. My immediate response was that yes, perhaps I did miss some experiences. But upon further reflection I believe that in a lot of ways I see more and experience more. How?
When I travel I have to become a part of life to really capture the moments I see. Sometimes I have to stand back and just observe, but this is a good thing too, it allows time for introspection. A foreigner might also not always be welcome as a participant in local traditions, so observation is a good thing. But mostly I think that I see and experience more with a camera attached to the end of my arm (where it can usually be found if I ask where I put it last!).
It is the cries of joy and laughter had by the models as they view their picture. The camaraderie it provides friends. It is the serious pose that turns into fits of giggles.
It encourages me to seek out experiences and scenes. It gives a purpose to my endless need to explore. It helps direct this exploration. It humbles me. It excites me. It helps satisfy my zeal for learning. It has me observing from different angles, times and positions. It is the detail and the big picture.
I love photography because it is helping me to constantly evolve and develop my own visual style. It is exciting! It is like learning to stand up on a surfboard for the first time, or climbing to the top of a mountain and seeing more.
Last but not least, it is the ability to illustrate what my words can only hope for.