A few years ago, in a paper with a message of computer programming for everyone instead of just for the professionals, I wrote a few lines about what it means to me to be a hobby photographer. I think, they quite well describe why I like being a photographer:
One of the authors of this paper considers himself to be a passionate photographer. He also happens to have an affection for London where naturally, he takes a lot of photos. Taking photos in London could be considered completely senseless. Virtually any landmark of the city has been photographed numerous times already, both by hobbyists as well as by professional photographers. One could therefore argue that nobody has to do so themselves anymore, as “professional solutions” already do exist. However, for a passionate photographer, taking photos in London remains to be rewarding for a number of reasons.
(1) Knowing existing photos of specific subjects which might be hard to photograph in a certain manner, can be considered a challenge to try to take a similar photo which means hypothesizing about how the photo was created in terms of time of the day, weather, lens, camera settings and post processing. But it is not only trying to copy the work of others. One couls also find satisfaction in (2) trying to capture a subject in a different way than usual, which could, for example, mean finding new perspectives, creating creative compositions or trying to capture it in special lighting situations. Especially in very public places like in the city of London, a challenging and therefore rewarding undertaking might also be (3) trying to find subjects which have not been photographed before or which at least are not among the typical photographic clichés. This typically implies deviating from the typical paths a tourist would take.
Being a passionate hobby photographer therefore means one is engaged in exploring two areas. On the one hand, one is the place someone is taking photos of. While roaming around, trying to find interesting subjects or perspectives, waiting for certain situations or considering different kinds of lighting, one explores even a common tourist hot spot quite differently than the average tourist. On the other hand, one also explores the technology behind taking photos, when to use which kind of lens, how to set up the camera, and how to post process the photos. In exploring both the subject of photography as well as the architecture of photography, one is improving one’s skills in both areas. The outcome of this process, which in itself is rewarding, is not just a copy of what others have done professionally, but also is a product of ones own creativity.