Happy World Photography Day! This is like a birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve all at once for us, because for 24h the whole day is celebrating what we’re all so passionate about: photography!
To join the celebrations, besides our month-long Value The Creators campaign, we thought we’d reflect on why we love photography, and why it’s so important for all of us to keep doing what we do. We only listed 5 reasons, but there as so, so, so many more – tell us why you think photography is important in the comments!
1. A visual legacy
Ah, sweet memories. Most of us will have sat down at least once with relatives to look at pictures taken during our childhood, and usually this leads to photos from older generations, long before we were born and of people we might never have met.
Photographs, aside from leading to intimate moments like those ones, also document all the moments that happened that are worth remembering (even those we might not think are) – whether they’re unique occasions, like a birthday party or a wedding, or everyday scenes that only have meaning for the people who were present at the time.
Without those pictures, would we still remember that childhood friend, that water fight, that holiday house? We might, but with photography, we can make sure we don’t forget any of it.
2. A new perspective
I used to go through life barely looking at things around me. Especially in a society where we tend to be looking down at our phone screens more than at the world around us, I know I was definitely guilty of taking things for granted. It wasn’t until I became interested in photography that I learned to see things more than to look at them. It completely shifted my perspective on life!
Photography has the power to open our eyes to the wonders of the world around us, and to force us to start noticing things we’d never seen before – the way the sunlight hits a tree, an interesting angle on a building, faces in a crowd… Something that has the power to change the way we experience life on an everyday basis is definitely valuable, important, and needed.
3. A permanent truth
Things change so quickly around us. Buildings are built, other are torn down, and everything that came before us could easily be forgotten if it weren’t for photographs. Photography has been around for almost 200 years, and has helped document every aspect of history: buildings, historical figures, wars, and other elements that have shaped the world we know today.
Throughout the years, photography has helped us preserve the world’s history, and pass it on to the following generations. These pictures help raise awareness, and teach us lessons. But, on top of that, photography holds a special power: while stories may be told orally, or books may be written about events, photography is the only tool that allows stories to be told truthfully – as historical photographs are unlikely to be tempered with. The knowledge and certainty we can gain from photographs are endless, just like the knowledge certainty we must keep passing on.
4. Universal experiences
We all have very different lives, live in different parts of the world, and go through completely different experiences every day. Are you likely to ever find out what the top of Mount Everest looks like without climbing it? Can you picture what the Grand Canyon looks like if you don’t have the money to travel? Will you ever be able to imagine what it feels like to attend the World Cup final? Thanks to photography, we all can. Especially in our digital day and age, all we have to do is log into our social media accounts to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes – and for free!
Photography disregards social classes, financial situations, physical abilities (I don’t know if you could climb Mount Everest, but I have a feeling I couldn’t), and instead universalises all experiences and allows everyone to go through them in their own way. This sounds pretty magical to me!
5. A visual voice
Finally, there’s no denying that art can carry messages and communicate them to its viewers. Whether artists are looking to transcribe a feeling, a story, or a thought, their art forms can often be used as strong platforms for self-expression. But no art form is quite as direct as photography. It might take a while for a viewer to get the message when it comes to certain pieces, but a photograph is also likely to cause a direct emotional reaction in the viewer. A picture is truly worth a thousand words.
But pictures can also help give a voice to those who don’t have one – or struggle to express it. With projects such as Humans of New York, or Nevertheless She Persisted, photographers can use their visual form of expression to help raise awareness of other people’s experiences and thoughts, which we might never be able to hear otherwise. This gives certain groups or minorities a chance to tell their own stories, or even rectify their narrative if it tends to be twisted in the media.
The work of a photographer can then be as external as internal, and a valuable weapon of expression in the world we live in.
So with all that power in mind, and to celebrate World Photography Day yourself, grab your camera, head outside, and get shooting!