First and foremost, it’s a creative outlet, something I desperately need. Photography is not as time consuming as writing. It’s done not while barricaded in an office walled off from the world, not with fictional characters or only after months or years of research. Unlike writing, you don’t need to dedicate yourself to a monk-like existence – at least where novel-length works are concerned, the only sort of writing I’ve ever really wished to do – to accomplish it. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be a writer when I grow up. But it seems that writers must be willing to step off the merry-go-round that is life long enough to write something, and I’d still rather be living it than writing about it.
Photography is not as messy as painting. The clean-up is certainly easier, and the cost of the requisite trial and error process that comes with finding your style and polishing your craft is surely less as well. I like to say you can’t count cost when pursuing art – or any creative passion, for that matter –but the reality, at least for me, is that it must also be about keeping overhead down. I can’t afford to pursue an expensive hobby… yet if it’s a passion, I can’t afford not to.
Photography gives me that, in its simplest form. For the cost of a single roll of film – about $7.50 with tax – I can paint with light and shadow 36 pictures, and if, after spending another $15 bucks to have them developed and transferred to a high resolution CD, I have nothing that resembles the vision I had in my minds’ eye when I started, I can try again. And what have I really lost? I’ve probably learned something in the process, discovered some interesting new place and new people, maybe even shared the experience with others like myself, content to slow things down and pursue the countless beautiful images this world still offers, even in places one least
expects to find them. And if I’ve shared that experience with someone special, perhaps the journey has been more a blessing than the image I first imagined.
Hence, my second reason… although truth be told, it was actually this that first lead me to realize photography as an art form. Forming ‘Level 5 Photography’allowed me to formally invest in something my wife has had an interest in since long before we met, but never seriously pursued. She has always set her own pursuits aside for her family, always supported my career and my dreams, such as they were, at the expense of her own. By investing in her photography and encouraging her to pursue her dream, I’m able to be more present in our relationship, having discovered that increasingly rare thing in marriage called a mutual interest.
I’ve known for some time now that we make a good team, her and I. Sure, that involves friction and discord at times, a necessary evil if ever there was one…but for once we’ve found something we’re equally passionate about, something we can share and pursue together. I believe that as we grow and develop individually as photographers and as artists, so do we grow closer as partners. And that, to me, is priceless… as beautiful a vision as any we’ll ever capture on film.
I suppose if there’s one thing I hope to share with others through Level 5 Photography, it’s just that. Beautiful images come and go, after all… but a beautiful relationship – a beautiful love – leaves a legacy that endures.
The third reason is for the pure escape of it. Photography is an excuse to leave the daily grind and the laundry list of responsibilities and expectations we’ve collected like the burrs that cling to our clothing as we pass through the drying fields of our Fall, at least for a precious little while. Photography – at least the way I intend to do it as long as I have my will – gets us out again to stretch legs and lungs, to ford streams and climb mountains, to not just seek the beautiful things but to see the beauty in everything.
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