The Purpose of Photography

Photography is an art form that lets you express your innermost thoughts and emotions- those selfies you took in middle school, aren’t.

By: Lily Knopp

Photography is a beautiful art form to capture moments in time. But often the meaning of photography gets lost. The first purpose of taking a picture is to have a reminder or recording of an event. But if this event had no meaning to begin with, then its objective becomes redundant. The second objective of photography is to evoke an emotional response or feeling. When you show someone a photo your goal is to strengthen an emotion relating to a prevalent story. This emotion could be elation, caused by proof of an accomplished goal in a photo, or grief from a photo of a missed friend. Photos must be taken with the intent of achieving a goal similar to this or the picture adheres to neither of these objectives.

The lack of this notion is most prevalent in mobile photography. I’m talking about selfies, candid photos, and classic Instagram posts with models in perfect lighting, perfect poses, and the “I’ve got my life together” look. Not only was I indifferent to taking exuberant amounts of pictures with my middle school friends, but I came to regret the heavily filtered ones that I didn’t despise at the time. Pictures and selfies are a great way to capture memories of special moments with friends and family, but in copious amounts, pictures distract from building memories to connect to the pictures. No one is going to remember what happened in a zoomed-in picture of you and a friend from middle school with the background barely visible. These photos have no response besides recalling a blurry memory that is empty of discernment and additionally lacks the two objectives of photography.

However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t wish I had more pictures with my close friends, in fact over nearly nine years of friendship, I only have 82 pictures and videos combined of my best friend and me together, that’s less than ten pictures a year. Taking fewer photos meant that we were on our phones less which gave us the opportunity to talk and bond more. I love capturing memories to help me remember enjoyable times, but they shouldn’t be forced or taken for no other reason than to update someone outside of your group on what is happening.

Many people dislike seeing themselves in pictures, and I’m no different. I would much rather prefer to be on the other side of the camera; digital photography is my domain. I began my photography career only taking pictures of nature, there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, three-fourths of my competition photos that got me into National Fine Arts were of nature. But it makes me feel so delighted to take pictures of my friends embracing a family friend at a wedding after months of living a thousand miles away or throwing a frisbee across a field with laughter and witty banter in the air or making my stubborn tomboy friend smile as she meets the gaze of my camera capturing her in a beautiful dress.

My point is, don’t let a phone or camera get in between building relationships with those around you. Take as many pictures as you’d like but don’t let them interrupt the moment. Pictures should make you smile, and not force you out of a moment to fake that “I’ve got my life together” smile. It’s important to spend more time making memories than sharing false ones.