Whenever we travel we end up spending a lot of time reflecting—on both our own work, and photography in general. On this latest trip I found myself thinking about a shoot we did in 2010, and how one simple word from a boy captured so much about photography that it blew my mind.
This shoot was for Ronald McDonald House, a charity that provides housing and support for families with sick kids. Our subjects were Jeremy and his mother. Jeremy sadly has a brain tumor, and had been visiting the local children’s hospital for treatment. We were taking the first family portraits they had ever had together, so it was a special event. That day we decided to bring along our Fuji Instax, to take a few instant photos.
Like any boy, Jeremy was far more interested in playing than being still and having photos taken. But the Instax caught his attention, and stopped him for a moment. We took a shot, and handed him the blank photo.
He watched intently as the image slowly appeared, and then whispered one word that has changed my perspective on photography ever since: “Magic”.
See, photography can be taken for granted. It’s easier than ever to take a photo, and the effort involved is sometimes nothing more than the press of a button. So it makes sense that we would forget to appreciate just how incredible the process really is.
But when you think about it, photography is pure magic. It gives you the ability to literally freeze an instant in time, and keep it forever. That’s practically wizardry.
The magic goes much deeper. Those images can connect to thousands, if not millions, of people around the world, and make them actually feel something. You have a real ability to impact the world with your photographs. Is that not completely mind-blowing?
Here’s the thing. I think that photographs can have the most impact if the photographer understands the magic. When you appreciate the power of an image, you know that you can communicate with the world through it. And that’s the first step to actually achieving that level of connection!
Today, take a few moments to think deeply about your photography, and the magic involved. Maybe it’s the things I talked about. Perhaps the magic occurs when you are able to get people to open up, and your images capture their real selves. Or maybe it’s how taking photos helps you to see the world in a completely new way, and opens your eyes to things you never noticed before.
Just remember to never take photography for granted. We’re all very lucky to get to enjoy it, and all its magic!