Inner Reflection: The What vs The Why

Hello CanonBloggers! First off, I’d like to thank Jason for the flattering acceptance of my offer to guest blog this post. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most eloquent when it comes to introductions, so for those of you who aren’t familiar with myself or PhotographyBB, I’m Dave Seeram, Editor of the PhotographyBB Online Magazine. As I am sure most of you are aware, Jason has been a contributing author for the PhotographyBB Online Magazine since our first year (now into our third). I thought that after all the hard work Jason has done for us and the entire photo-community, this would be a small opportunity to give back to Jason what he has done for us.

Jason’s first ever article with us was a great little piece on “Considering the Why” in photography. Since I am downright neurotic when it comes to symmetry, it’s only fitting that my first posting here should revisit this important consideration.

Content is Important, But…

When taking photos, we as photographers often neglect to consider why we are shooting as opposed to what we are shooting. This is especially true for beginners who are understandably more concerned with camera settings, which shooting mode they should be in, getting the correct white balance, metering modes, and a whole plethora of factors which made all of our heads spin when we first got started. However, even the more practiced photographers sometimes lapse and put greater emphasis on what they are shooting rather than why.

What you consciously decide to photograph is undoubtedly important. Why you decide to shoot it may be a conscious decision, but sometimes the contrary. When we examine the ‘why’ behind the scene, it is that point when we begin creating truly compelling photographs. Why are you shooting this subject? It could be to make a statement, to tell a story, or simply because you felt that it would make a good photograph. If we dig deeper, we can ask ourselves why do we want to make this particular statement, why do we want to tell this particular story, or even why do we want to take photos in the first place?


Photography is certainly a communicative art form. On some level, with every photo that we take, we are looking to communicate something to our viewers. Consciously deciding to examine the why behind the photo starts to help us creatively find the best possible way to communicate with our images. Once the why becomes clear to us, our photos become more engaging to our viewers.

The ability to evoke emotion through the capturing of a split second in time is truly a magical gift. I get asked the question quite often, “How can I improve my photography?” There was a point where I would have said something like, “Learn about exposure and camera settings, know your gear, and practice like there is no tomorrow.” While these things are fundamentally important, if you really want to push your photography (and yourself) to new heights, take a brief moment to consider the why before you press the¬†shutter button. When you come to a conscious understanding of why you are making that particular photo, that is how you will achieve improvement in your craft. Next time you are out shooting, ask yourself the question; I guarantee you will have a more rewarding photographic experience. Keep shooting, keep practicing, and happy photographing folks!

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