What Makes Photographers Happy?


I have read that there are 12 states of happiness. What they are, or how “happiness” is determined and is then defined, is beyond me, but I did find a short article that said to be happy people need to “anticipate with pleasure, savor the moment, express happiness, and reflect on happy memories”.

I know there are times and things that make me happy. Nevertheless, there are moments that no matter what my surroundings are, or the circumstances, I am just not happy. And I am sure I am not the only one that gets in a bad mood (or good mood for that matter) without knowing why.

I doubt one can find any studies on the states of happiness for photographers. So while readers think about what makes them happy I’m going to delve into that mysterious state.  Is it happiness about how things like camera equipment make them feel, or about how circumstances such as creating a good photograph make them feel? Most photographers are devastated when they receive a poor review on a picture, so there is lots of ego involved in their happiness. And I know that sitting around with other photographers talking about anything photographic is just plain blissful for me.

I don’t know any social scientists that I can call up, and I haven’t discussed happiness with any philosophers. However, I have always felt that photographers have a culture of their own. There are those who might argue that concept, but I am absolutely convinced that it is so. I constantly interact with other photographers in online forums, blogs, or talk to them personally, and those photographers are always ready and willing to tell me when they are happy or not.

Some are actually more interested in the technology of photography then the actual process of making pictures. I recall a guy that was happiest when he found a problem with a piece of photography equipment. He delighted in making test after test to find if a particular camera matched what the manufacturer or other photographers claimed. I’m disappointed when something doesn’t work as described, but this fellow would actually be down right cheery.

I had a friend that spent all his spare time wandering back roads. He’d show up at my shop with a grin as wide as all outdoors and stick his ipad or ipone on the counter for me to scroll through and happily describe how he photographed that hawk on the wire, the owl on a fence post or that eagle fishing on the river bank. What made him happy weren’t his pictures as much as his process of making pictures.

I know photographers that are continually changing equipment. Not because they find problems with what they own, or because their equipment is limiting, but because they read something, or talked to someone, about a new addition from their manufacturer of choice, and can’t live with out it. They excitedly talk about how wonderful that new piece of equipment is. I know their choices don’t so much meet a practical need as an emotional one, but they make it easy for me, and anyone else they talk to, to observe how darned happy they are with their new camera, or lens, and with, for that matter, everything they own.

This exciting medium has many levels and outlets to make one happy. There are portrait photographers, wildlife photographers, scenic and landscape photographers, sports photographers, baby photographers, those that specialize in plant photography and, of course, many more, each with differing sets of skills, and, to my mind, their own states of happiness. I don’t know if photographers have twelve states of happiness, or only the four I found in that short article, but I will say that I meet lots of people that are happy to be doing photography, and being involved with it in their own, very personal, way.

Care to comment on what makes ya happy?

My website is at www.enmanscamera.com

8 responses to “What Makes Photographers Happy?

  1. I’ve always found photography to be a technical process, more so than most other artistic expressions. I’m not sure if it’s that technical aspect or the artistic part that makes photographers happy but it’s probably a combination. At least for me it is.


  2. My happiness is perhaps in some cases the exact opposite of what Jane Lurie described. I prefer results that exceed or even completely differ from any preconceptions I may have had. It’s when this happens that I feel myself entranced by all of the possibilities that photograph offers.


    • I get your point Martin. Yet I would add, it might also be when both as Jane wrote, “I conceived in my head” and as you wrote “results that exceed or even completely differ from any preconceptions. That come together “technically and artistically” for you as oneowner wrote.


  3. There are so many aspects about photography that make me happy I had to think about it a few days and come back to your post. The equipment is great fun. I love researching it and reading reviews, daydreaming about owning some unattainable piece. The process of being out in nature searching for the shot, be it landscape or wildlife. I love the post processing, editing job. So fun to see what you can do with software. Love talking with and interacting with other photographers about photography. Have made great friends online and off with photography. Just can’t narrow it down.


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