Creativity Exercise: Your WHY

We're not going to be shooting or editing this week, but I promise, this still will be a photography exercise! Instead of exploring the practical side of photography, we’re going to dig deep within ourselves and figure out our WHY.

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Do you remember why you first picked up your camera? Why did you first want to learn photography? Why did you want to start improving your art? Why did you want to make pictures?

There is NO right answer or no better answer to this question. Everyone’s answer will be different. The idea is to think back, look within yourself and remember WHY you started on this journey.

Why do you pick up your camera now? Why do you want to keep making pictures? Has your WHY changed at all?

Are you aware of your why when you’re shooting? Is it something you’ve thought about before? Sometimes we aren’t aware of our why so reflecting back and looking deep within ourselves can help clarify it for you.

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For me, like so many others, it wasn’t until after my children were born that I started to revisit photography (I took a few classes in high school but never pursed it beyond that) and dove head first into learning as much as I could. But my initial WHY wasn’t to capture my children, it was to become a good enough photographer to set up a business. I started on my photography journey after my second son was born after we had his professional baby photos taken. I remember looking at the images in our online gallery and thinking ‘I could do that!’ It wasn’t just the pictures I thought I could take, but the business I thought I could run that would allow me to work for myself and have the flexibility to be home with my children. My husband thought I could as well and thankfully supported me on my mission to learn everything I could both about photography and also about running a photography business.

I gave myself the deadline of my son’s first birthday to learn as much as I could and to decide if it was a business idea I wanted to pursue. During that time I studied and read and watched everything I could get my hands on, and of course started shooting, shooting, and shooting some more. The more I practiced and made images of my boys, my why started to change to include capturing their childhood. I wanted to remember absolutely everything! From our everyday to the special occasions to the big trips overseas to the local trips to the park. I had my camera around my neck ALL THE TIME…it was pretty much a permanent accessory. Part of it was that I was learning and wanted to shoot and practice as much as I could, but the other part of it was that it was my WHY at the time and I truly did want to capture everything.

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Fast forward five years to today and my business is successfully running and I no longer carry my camera around with me all the time. Once again my why has changed. I’m okay (mostly) with missing moments as long as I’m being present. I still want to capture my children’s childhood for all of us to remember, but capturing every single day is not something I feel the need to do anymore (I don’t see another 365 project in my near future!). I therefore shoot with a lot more intention now and need to really be inspired by the moment, light, composition, etc to pick up my camera. When the need to create strikes, I also like to create just for me now, whether it be a self portrait, still life or a scenario I’ve set up. My why now is to create art and capture our everyday, ordinary lives while making images that make us feel something. This is my why for both my personal shooting, but also for my clients.

It’s also too easy to get caught up in our everyday lives, in our shooting and editing, in social media trends and fads and we forget about our why and start shooting for others instead. Once you know what your why is, write it down. Think about it often. Remember it every time you pick up the camera. Knowing your own WHY will help you shoot with more intention. It will help you make pictures that speak to you. It help define your own style. It will be your voice.

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If you’d like to share your WHY with us, we’d love to hear it so please tag us with an image and your why on Instagram with #unscriptedmentoring.

- Jenny