What makes us photographers happy?       

Today four of us sat in my shop drinking coffee and talking about photography. The subjects were constantly moving and jumping without hesitation from topic to topic.

I mentioned the soon to be introduced Nikon D6, Brian talked about a problem he had with a flash at his last wedding, Drew was talking about some lens to camera adaptors he was looking for and Bob mentioned that he lusted after the Nikon mirrorless cameras two tourists were using and of course, lots of talk about each of our latest photography outings. The topics rose and drifted off as our discussions wandered on.

After Bob and Brian left, Drew stayed to help me change batteries in the cameras I will be taking to the big used camera sale in Vancouver next week and I thought about how much I enjoyed the banter.

With regards to my feelings I’ll repost this article I wrote back in 2016.

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

I doubt one will find any studies on the “states of happiness” for photographers. So while readers are now thinking about what makes them happy I’m going to delve into that mysterious state.

Is it happiness about things like camera equipment, or about the circumstances such as creating a good photograph? Most photographers are devastated when they receive a poor review on a picture, so I guess there is lots of ego involved in our happiness.

I know that sitting around with other photographers talking about photography 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 we photographers have a culture of our own. There are those who might argue that opinion, 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 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 knew a phtographer that spent 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 iPhone 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 always serve a practical need and are more emotional, 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, pet photographers, those that specialize in plant or bird 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.

Hey photographers, care to comment on what makes ya happy?

3 responses to “What makes us photographers happy?       

  1. Hah fab post N-man! I am happy with 2 new lenses I recently purchased and am loving making pictures with them. It makes me happy thinking about photography, reading books on it, talking to others about it, and I am most happy when I’m out with my pal on a shooting trip. I don’t suffer with gear acquisition syndrome thankfully!

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  2. Gear acquisition can make me instantly happy, but it’s a shallow, short-lived feeling followed by buyer’s remorse.

    Walking around somewhere really beautiful with boring light makes me happy, because I’m out and about and scouting for possibilities, but it’s not sustainable and I’m left wanting for more.

    Snapping pics with no plan is fun sometimes, but when I’m reviewing the pics I’m often left wondering what I was thinking when I see those poorly thought out images and very few keepers. It is disheartening, but I try to take some learning experience from it.

    What makes me really happy is when I’m deliberate about my photos and everything works according to plan. The equipment works the way I expect it to, I come to the location when there is good light, and the image I’ve contrived in my head unfolds in front of me in camera and later in post processing.

    For me it doesn’t always work if I only attempt part of the formula. To find happiness requires a bit more effort for me, but I find that it’s sustained and more fulfilling that way.

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