Why Do We Take Photos?

Why do we take photos? What is the appeal that makes photographers continue to take photos?

Professionals do it to get paid. It’s how they pay the bills. It’s how they put food on the table. It’s how they take care of their families. But, they also have a love for photography. It’s that love that drives photographers to keep shooting pictures. So, I guess the real question is, why do we love it? Here are some of my reasons.

Capture Memories

How many times have you gone to a friend or family member’s home and picked up a photo album? Were you able to go through that album without smiling at least once? Probably not. If you’re like me, you probably turned through the pages of that photo album and re-lived some of the memories you saw in the pictures. I’m sure you said things like, “I remember this!” or “We had so much fun here!” It didn’t matter that the photos were probably taken by an amateur photographer. The photos did the job of capturing those memories.

Capture Moments

Moments happen all the time and they can happen fast. A kitten pouncing on a ball of yarn. A wave crashing against the shore. The swing from a batter at a baseball game. Photography freezes these moments so we can take the time to enjoy them.

why i photograph

photo by Daniel Zedda

Tell Stories

Have you ever seen a photograph that just made you stop and look? Many times, the subject of a photo is so powerful, it doesn’t matter if it was taken by a professional or amateur photographer. The stories these photos tell can sometimes have the ability to overshadow any technical ability of the photographer. These stories can be happy, sad, and any number of other emotions. Think of photos of Olympic medalists at that moment of victory. Think of photos of tragedies such as natural disasters and war. These stories can also be more personal, such as the photos taken at your wedding.

Communicate With Others

You’ve heard the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s very true. Professional and amateur photographers alike have the ability to express themselves through their images. When someone looks at one of your photos, they are able to see something exactly the way you saw it. Photography can convey ideas in a very artistic, visual, and creative way.

Improving as a Photographer

I’m sure you can agree with many of the things I’ve written about our love of photography. I also feel it’s safe to say that many photographers wish they could improve their ability with a camera. All of us have looked at photos we’ve taken, compared to photos others have taken of the same or similar subject matter. We may have asked ourselves, “How did they get their photos to look so much better than mine?” How many times have you taken a photo only to be disappointed with the outcome? It can be frustrating sometimes.

photographer at work

photo by Barb Ignatius

We have a drive to get better and, as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. We may shoot 100 photos and find one that we think is absolutely amazing. It’s that one photo that keeps us shooting. It’s that one photo that inspires us to try to do it again.

So get out your camera and go capture some memories! Go capture the moments that happen around you! Tell stories with your images! Continually improve your photography! Most importantly, share your images with others. Because your photography can inspire others as well.

As always, Happy shooting!

About the Author:
Jason Pryor writes for jasonpryorphotography.com. You can find more info about him, view his work, and learn more about improving your photography on the site.

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12 responses to “Why Do We Take Photos?”

  1. Excellent…..enjoyed reading this. Well said, good point. Great opening line: “Professionals do it to get paid.”…thanks Rob

  2. John Gaylord says:

    There’s another significant but perhaps less obvious reason: photographers see things that other people don’t see, we see things through the camera that cannot be observed with the naked eye, and we organize our images within a frame as artists do. Photographic image making can be a creative process of discovery and revelation as much as it is a medium of communication.

  3. Jason Pryor says:

    Hey guys! I’m Jason, the author of this article. I’m glad you liked it!

    Rob – I’m happy you liked my comment about professionals doing it to get pain. I didn’t want it to come off as sounding condescending. I hope no one thinks that they don’t also do it for the love of their craft. But, the bottom line is that it does pay the bills, LOL!

    John – Excellent point! I am a strong believer that photos take just as much creativity as creating a painting from scratch. In some ways, it’s more creative. When painting, you have the freedom to create anything. In photography, you have to work with the scene you’re presented with.

    Thanks for the comments!

  4. Jason Pryor says:

    I meant they get “paid”. Not “pain”. Though, sometimes that’s the case too, haha!

  5. Chris says:

    “When someone looks at one of your photos, they are able to see something exactly the way you saw it.” – Well, that is an ideal situation. Come to think of it, not even. You see, meaning in art is a two-way street. Even if I succeed in expressing with a photo 100% of what I had in mind (in terms of mood, emotion, expression), at least 25-30% of viewers see something else. Because we bring our own thoughts and emotions into art.

  6. sophie says:

    When was this article written? I want to cite something in this for an essay

  7. Jason Pryor says:

    Hi, Sophie. I’m the original author of this article. You can find it on my website http://www.JasonPryorPhotography.com along with the original date published. I’m flattered to have my work used in an essay!

  8. Jason Pryor says:

    Or, I guess I could make it easy on you and tell you. It was originally published on my site on July 16, 2012. If you quote the source, please quote me and my website. Not this site. This site just took my article and posted it. I’m fine with that. It’s brought a little traffic to my site. But if used in another published work or essay, I would appreciate the credit. After all, I wrote it, lol!

  9. aunt b says:

    I am using this in a speech. i will quote your site. i will credit you :) :)

  10. Michael says:

    Perhaps these are more examples of the above yet worthy of consideration:




    Interim media (capture pose for painting…)

    Risk avoidance (collision, extreme conditions…)

    Basis for artistic expansion (morphing, mashup, fantasy… Photoshop)

  11. Matthew says:

    The BIGGER question is this :
    Why do we CONTINUE to take photos?
    After the initial uhm and ahhs. of my photography reentry (I was with film, then stopped and picked up with digital a Casio EX100 compact just 4 yrs ago), I got bored. I think my works are ok (www.instagram.com/Matthew77ask)
    Just that after taking and processing on my snapseed on my phone – and posting on fb IG…
    then what …?
    No more meaning…

  12. Kris says:

    I really enjoyed your article on why you love photography. I agree that there are many reasons to take photos – it’s an art form for me! And I found myself nodding in agreement with a lot of what you said.

    It was awesome to read these words about the joys of being an aerial photographer and taking pictures. Thanks for writing this piece!

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