Rant: I Love Photography

Rant: I Love Photography

It might sound strange to use the verb “Love” in the title of a rant. But here goes.

I love photography.

Why am I telling you this? Isn’t it self-obvious? Don’t we all love photography? The answer is no. There is a percentage of photographers who hate photography. They do not appreciate photography. They do not consume photography. They don’t look at photo books or photo magazines. They hate the guy with the iPhone taking Instagram shots. They hate the guy who just bought the D4 because they don’t have one. They hate people using digital because film is what real artists use. They hate photographers who embrace social media because images should stand on their own. They hate Getty, Corbis, the AP, day rates, photo editors, assistants, rental houses, camera stores, point-and-shoots, iPads, zoom lenses, padded camera straps, wheeled suitcases, younger photographers, older photographers. The photo of so-and-so on the cover of whatever it’s called sucks. That guy copied the other guy, he sucks. Terry Richardson sucks. Chuck Close sucks. Vincent Laforet hasn’t taken a still in 17 years. Kodak hasn’t been managed well since the 70s. Blah, blah, blah.

I love photography. Let me show you why.

This was my favorite image of 2011 shot by Rich Lam for Getty Images during the rioting that occurred after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. It’s amazing. It’s a crazy juxtaposition of love amidst protest, which was such a dominant theme this year. As many people have commented, it’s a modern day From Here to Eternity. You look at it and you think, “What the hell is going on?” And then you hear the back story and it’s even more amazing that it happened and someone was there to capture it. I’d like to hang it on my wall.

Rüdiger Nehmzow took these incredible photos of clouds from an open door of a plane. Who does that? He’s not complaining about Terry Richardson. He’s too busy creating amazing photos. Speaking of which…

People say the guy has no talent. They hate the on-camera flash. But you know what? That’s Terry Richardson‘s thing. That’s what he does. Do you have a thing? Are you known for your visual style? Sure, maybe you could have taken better photos of Lady Gaga if you had access. But you didn’t. Terry did because he built a reputation and a career. And this photo happens to have some Italian chick with a big nose washing her face and smiling, oh and by the way, she’s an incredibly creative and talented mega star. I was in Tokyo over the New Year’s drinking a coffee in a bookstore, and I flipped through the entire book. Hey man, she was born that way.

This is perhaps the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life from the Mainichi Shinbun (literally “Daily Newspaper”). It’s a black wall of water crashing over a seawall from the Tohoku earthquake that killed nearly 16,000 people. I saw a stupid Matt Damon movie called “Hereafter” that had a CGI tsunami. Then I saw video of the real thing, and I was speechless. A tsunami isn’t a wave. It’s a wall.

My high school hired me to take a series of portraits of Bay Area alumni, so I hired my buddy Max Morse to assist me. Here was the set up shot. I really like it. I posted it on his Facebook wall, and he made it his profile picture. I once made a photo that Missy McLamb took of me into my Facebook profile picture. She commented back that it was the highest compliment. I didn’t fully grok what she meant at the time, but now I do.

2011 marked the ten year anniversary of September 11. I live a few blocks from Ground Zero, so I walked down with my camera hoping to make an iconic shot. But it was cloudy as all hell, and I couldn’t see the towers of light piercing into the night sky. Then I see Eric Thayer‘s photo. Where was I? How much more uplifting could a ten year anniversary photo of 9/11 be?

Reuter’s journalist Barry Malone captured this image near Somalia. The juxtaposition is boggling. Guy in suit. Dead cow that is so starved it looks like a leather jacket. And craziest of all, he’s using an iPad as a camera — a scene that couldn’t have existed until last year since the iPad 2 came out in the Spring. Since then, I’ve seen this all the time. In fact, my father uses his iPad as a camera.

Protests were happening everywhere from Wall Street to Tahrir Square. And in Greece where economic issues are abound, Nodas Stylianidis captured this self-immolation photo, which of course, reminds me of Malcolm Browne‘s photo from Vietnam.

Peggy Sirota took these funny photos of comedian Ken Jeong photo bombing super model Kate Upton. I wrote a blog about it. People got upset. Said it was gross. Said it was demeaning. But I laughed when I saw the photos. It made me happy. It’s poking fun at the very things that are supposed to be demeaning. Are you trying to convince me that this is perpetuating negative stereotypes?

My high school classmate Tina and I share a stupid on-going exchange about Nicolas Cage, who has had his share of problems. When my birthday rolled around, she didn’t resort to the typical “happy birthday, allen!” wall post. No, no. She made a composite. It’s some sort of horse head nebula. With a cupcake. And Nic Cage’s floating head atop the cupcake. It’s amazing. This photo, by the way, is perpetuating negative stereotypes of Nic Cage Nebula Cupcake photos.

I love photography.

There’s a teenager in Japan named Natsumi Hayashi. She had some average Canon DSLR, but she came up with this concept to take self-portraits that look like she’s levitating. She takes a few hundred images jumping up and down and trying to strike the right pose. She has a Facebook Fan Page and lots of people take homage shots, but they’re just jumping in the air. They don’t levitate. They don’t jump 100 times for the perfect image. They don’t do it over the course of a few years to make it their own. She’s just a girl with a camera, and then all of a sudden she got a gallery show and a 5D, and I was really psyched for her. Her photos inspired me to levitate, and what could be a greater gift?

I love photography.

Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez of the US Air Force took this photo of a Special Operations dog jumping out of a plane. I’ve seen a few images similar to this. It’s amazing. It’s amazing that a dog helped Seal Team 6 kill Osama bin Laden. It’s amazing that dogs jump out of planes with people. It’s amazing that military personnel are there to photograph this stuff, and even more amazing that it gets published.

Tony Cenicola humorously photograped a chicken to accompany a New York Times article on cooking with chicken skin. On the Lens blog, reader Carol J. Adams commented:

“Not only has the Times featured a misogynistic image, they are now celebrating it by discussing it in a blog? This is the sexual politics of meat; it is about sexualizing the dead flesh of an animal by associating it with women’s bodies. It is anti-woman, it is anti-animal; it’s a pathetic, dated, sensibility. All around the world meat companies have beaten you to this. This is a new low for the Times. Beheaded female bodies as attractive? Just who do you think you are eating?”

ScottA responded:

“@Carol J. Adams – Your comment does not hold weight with its own blatant disrespect for the male form that is Burt Reynolds. Why your mind took an innocent image of a chicken, and associated it with a female body is beyond me.”

It is a chicken, right? I dunno, I get confused between people and chicken sometimes.

While some photographers complain about stolen images, security and thumbnail sizes, editor Alan Taylor went in the opposite direction. In 2008, he created the Boston Globe’s “The Big Picture” which was one big page of lots of incredible photos that were 990 pixels wide. No tiny thumbnails, no watermarks, no Flash, no bullshit slideshows that were only developed to create page inventory against which to sell ads. Nope. The Big Picture was about showcasing photography, and it’s glorious.

He was so successful that The Atlantic hired him away in early 2011 to start In Focus, which continues the large format tradition.

My friend Caroline doesn’t own a camera. She keeps using the crappy camera on her Blackberry. But it doesn’t matter. It’s not always about the quality of the image, or the composition, or the lighting. Sometimes it’s just about the people in the image and the feeling that it elicits. She went back home to Chicago this summer and had brunch with her mom. Someone took a photo with that crappy little cellphone, and now they can remember that brunch forever.

My best friend got married in September, and I took this photo of him hugging his father at the rehearsal dinner. It’s a pretty crappy photo. The light was really orange, and this was the best I could do with the white balance. His father’s face is obscured, but it’s an honest photo.

Last week, his father passed away following heart surgery. I knew his father for 20 years. I saw my first snow at their house over Christmas break in 1994, where I also did my first snow angel at the age of 18. I spent hours at the piano while his father played the guitar. I spent hours at the computer looking at all his father’s flower photos. Tell me that this is a shitty photo. (It is) Tell me that you could have done better. (You could have) Tell me that I didn’t need a $5000 camera to capture this. (I didn’t) Then tell me how I would feel without this photo, and tell me how photography sucks.

The business of photography is undergoing massive change. People who used to make a ton of money aren’t making the same money any more. Amateurs are giving away photos for free. I totally get it.

But listen. There are so many more incredible photos today than there ever were. And more people consume more photography than they ever did thanks to things like Facebook, Instagram, iPads, blogs, and “best of” compilations. This is the golden age of photography. Everyone takes photos now, and there is inspiration all around us. History is being made, and we’re capturing it.

I love photography.

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Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 258 comments for this article
  1. maria at 10:21 am

    I really hope people read this blog. One of the best I’ve ever read 🙂 thanks! I really just want to grab my camera and go take pictures right now and I miss that feeling.

  2. Mike at 10:35 am

    Thanks for this. It’s probably the most enjoyable rant I’ve read in a long time. Photography, unfortunately, is not a universal haven from greed, jealousy, and self-righteousness, nor can we expect it to be. Luckily for those of us who do love photography, it’s easy to block out the haters and pick up our cameras.

  3. Jessica at 11:02 am

    🙂 Luv this, thanks for sharing! It’s so easy to get caught up in all the bs of the industry. I know I could use this reminder from time to time.

  4. Matteo at 11:08 am

    Too many haters out there! And you are probably aware how many they are: I hear/read on a daily basis so many complaints by “established” (and narrow minded) photographers on how one should refrain from this activity these days. Yet new opportunities abound for those who love 🙂

  5. DLuker at 11:13 am

    Thank you for writing this down & putting it out there. I wish I could be so articulate. I’m going to share it on G+. I’m going to bookmark it & give the URL to particularly hateful haters. If you’re ever in Atlanta, let me buy you a drink!

  6. Simon Brown at 11:16 am

    Thanks Allen, Please, rant away. We photographers sometimes don’t express this sheer joy and passion for what we do enough.

    I too love photography. That’s why I’m a photographer not a lawyer or banker or checkout operator. That’s why I’ve just written a review of An Inner Silence for my blog. That’s why I need to build some more bookshelves, but then where do I hang the prints? That’s why I’ve always got some type of camera with me. And forty-five years since I was first given a camera that love of photography just keeps getting better.

    By the way, the photograph of your friend and his father is perfect, it tells the story.

  7. Michelle Kane at 11:39 am

    Fabulous and thoughtful piece, Allen. You’ve eloquently summed up in a perfectly straightforward manner what I’ve been thinking for a long time. Awesome post!

  8. John at 11:52 am

    I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much I love this blog entry. You say so many things that I think to myself so often but have never voiced and you’ve said them much better than I could have. I love photography too, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing about your love for it.

  9. Sophie at 11:57 am

    Thoughtful and heartening, Allen, one wouldn’t expect any less from someone who flosses daily 🙂 AND YET: one of my clients told me this week that i’d have a lot more work if my rates were less than half of where they are now. Tell me where the opportunity is in that statement? Work three times as much to earn what I did 3 years ago? I’m not combative, I’m confused. I love images, but the daily slog to earn a living as a photographer is different than where you sit, running a great company. Or so it seems to me.

  10. Ray Carcases at 12:04 pm


    I agree with most of what you said but I don’t have a problem with Terry Richardson because of his style, he’s just a gross human being as noted here: http://jezebel.com/5494634/meet-terry-richardson-the-worlds-most-fked-up-fashion-photographer

    More importantly, there are always people who will be negative because negativity is an excuse for not going as far as you want to. I’m glad you showed people that are just creating stuff whether paid or personal work.

  11. Grant Meeks at 12:06 pm

    Awesome. Awesome blog post. I share your thoughts and love photography as well, and it is great to hear others do as well.

    @ScottWilliams Love doesn’t have to be all butterflies and rainbows. A boyfriend comforting his girlfriend who just got trampled isn’t love? To me that is the ultimate gesture of love, to stay with someone, to comfort them when they are down, both metaphorically, and in this case literally.

  12. Katrina Lee at 12:08 pm

    In an accessible way, you have managed to speak a profound truth that needs to be acknowledged in not only this industry, but in our global community. Hate only begets hate. Rather than spending time hating on others for “taking” what you think is yours. Get busy making something your own.

    “Any great art work … revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world – the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.”
    ― Leonard Bernstein

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  14. Pam Kelso at 1:14 pm

    Great Rant.

    As for the first image – I guess an accurate caption goes a long way. Sans the correct knowledge of the shot I would have said: The two people overcome with sexual passion at the conclusion of a game is an incredible shot. I think that the Gustav Klimit image of a kiss would come closer to floating my boat.

    I don’t see what the issue is with chicken. If you know how packed they are with antibiotics and steroids you wouldn’t want to eat one anyway. Imagine this – if that picture was a woman the breasts would go all the way from the sternum to the hips! Genius of genetic alteration! Most of her comments come from books like this – http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Politics-Meat-Feminist-vegetarian-Anniversary/dp/1441173285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328031022&sr=1-1

    I love people shots of those in your life that is why I have a whole gallery of them right here on this site. http://f32images.photoshelter.com/gallery/Life-lived-Forward/G0000flnrZaDFthg/P0000q1L0DgkdkZM

    Sophie had good comments and I echo them. Something else, with all the cross-pollination of blogs, twitter, facebook, myspace and now G+ it is easy to read one post on someone’s any of the above and assume that you know enough about them to label them a ‘hater’ or a ‘lover’. I have enough “about me” online in 2 blogs (one personal one professional), twitter, Photoshelter, Viewbook, Zenfolio, Blurb and now G+ that to read and understand all of that would take a couple of 8to5 weeks – and I am just one person out there among many that are using social media. How many of us read just one persons comments on something and try to find out why they feel that way. If you don’t take to time to do that every time your read a post and label someone, you are probably going to be mis-informed about what the person is about, or possibly, even what they are referring to.

    Another good read is The Unwanted Gaze – interesting stuff on copyright stuff.

    I love the images and comments Alan, but like Sophie there really is two sides, or more, to this, like the one comment points out captions are really necessary.

  15. Allen Murabayashi Author at 1:23 pm

    @sophie, i have no doubt that running a photo business is difficult. but so was building photoshelter from scratch. we didn’t inherit the business, and it wasn’t easy building it. it took a vision, lots of hard work, and marketing to the right type of client to be successful. that said, the daily difficulties of running any business shouldn’t distort your appreciation of photography. we were all attracted to photography at some point in our lives (for me, it was junior high), but i’m pretty certain that 100% of photographers never went into the profession because they thought they’d make a ton of money.

  16. Mike at 2:16 pm

    I was ambivalent until the last photo. It brought tears to my eyes. I think you could have done the entire blog just off that photo. That took it to the core of it all. Thanks for the post.

  17. Emily at 2:41 pm

    thank you, thank you, thank you.
    There are so many pissed off, angry, indignant photographers out there. They feel threatened and insecure and cannot find the joy that you have so eloquently stated here.
    This IS the golden age of photography.
    I’m one of the momtogs — mammarazzi, mwac, whatever else they call us.
    I’m so tired of the freaked out watermarking, the paranoid searches for “stolen” images, the militant orders to not crop or alter photographs. Getting your art stolen or changed sucks, but so does the terrible angry tone of all the photographers out there these days.
    Thanks so much for writing an uplifting post and pointing out all the ways a photo can be important and wonderful, no matter if it’s a “crappy” picture or not.

  18. Beth Olson at 2:50 pm

    I have never read anything about photography that so perfectly captures my feelings about photography! It’s an utterly maddening experience trying to work with people who have been doing this for so long they can no longer register the awe inspiring thing that we are all a part of.
    This is perfect. Thank you!

  19. William Thomas at 2:56 pm

    I don’t remember taking the time to leave a comment on a blog, ever. I needed to take a moment to say “wow”, and thank you for the perspective. I spend all day and night looking at photos. PJ on the iPad, wedding photos at work, instagram photos while waiting on line at the grocery, and as many photo books that I can get my hand on. Still, I fall victim of being snide about my peers and obnoxiously pointing out fauxtographers on Facebook. This article grounded me a bit, and my god is it inspiring.

    This is a must read for everyone in the business. Cheers.

  20. Andrea Johnson at 3:20 pm

    This captures my sentiments perfectly, and reignited the feelings of loving the art of light all over again. Looking at photos can be just as good as being the person to capture a photo; thank you for reminding me of that.

  21. Chris at 3:51 pm

    Lovely post. And you are so right.

    Photography should be one of the things that brings people together, not push them apart.

    Best to avoid the trends, avoid the moaners, and just go out and take pictures.

  22. Christine Ferullo at 3:58 pm

    Allen….one word….AWESOME!!!! Thank you for a beautifully written & visually exciting reminder of why it’s so important to look past all of the bull$^!t and remember why I got into this profession to begin with! I LOVE this post!!! Almost as much as I love photography! Thanks for sharing!


  23. Richard Hamm at 4:29 pm

    Man I needed this today. Awesome read. I’d like to add, don’t hate the layoffs, paycuts, benefit cuts. Don’t hate the crappy equipment your forced to use or the ridiculous hours. Don’t hate. Remember. Remember the job you love and strive to make it like that again.
    I’ve also never understood the hatred of newbiews. Like we didn’t all start shooting sunsets and cute pictures.

  24. Dave at 5:18 pm

    Love this post! Great photos come from the heart. I’m tired of all the hating too. There are 6 billion of us on the planet, we’re all going to do it differently.

  25. Phil at 5:42 pm

    Scott Williams comment above … Talk about someone randomly proving your point … Doesnt matter what actually happened … (love, violence, trampling, paramedics) … Let the viewer interpret the pic anyway they want … Love it!
    Loved the chicken … Visions of Kramer and Neumann
    Great article … I love photography and photographers toooo …

  26. Ken at 7:33 pm

    Wonderful story! I recall shooting with a model out on a farm. She brought her little dog and by the end of the shoot he was happy to curled up in my lap in the pickup truck. We must have shot a hundred of them together.

    A week later the little dog was run over…she was so grateful for the photos… Life is precious whether the two or four footed kind..

  27. Jeff Sipper at 7:55 pm

    Great post. Whenever I see photographers complain, (and I’m guilty of it as well) I just try and remind them (and myself) that we aren’t digging ditches. We get to make photos for a living. A majority of the photography that has permeated the blogosphere in the past 3-5 years has been pretty average. Not many newer photographers have any deference for the photos that have come before them, plus they think everything is “AMAZING!” They’ve obviously never seen pics of the caliber you posted.

  28. Stacie at 8:03 pm

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    I could prattle on more but you nailed it and it is a wonderful WONDERFUL essay. Except for the chicken. That kind of creeps me out in some weird way.

  29. Pingback: Rant: I love Photography (A blog post from Allen Murabayashi that has really inspired me as of 5 minutes ago….lol) « brittanyannephotography
  30. Sophie at 9:59 pm

    Thanks for your reply, Allen. Yes, you undoubtedly worked hard — very hard — and you had a great vision over that dinner back in 2005. Now you’re ensconced as an industry leader. [Coincidentally, was in NYC today and noticed your lovely offices overlooking Union Square. Nice.] What differs, I guess, is that you moved into a space (in the world, non on USW) that didn’t exist, and have built a giant of a business. 70,000 photographers paying a MINIUM of $10 per month? That’s brilliant. You’ve succeeded where others may have tried by having a superb product, and because you recognized a need.

    Photographers didn’t go into photography to be rich, of course. Drive or walk through any upscale neighborhood in this country, and chances are you’ll see the homes of very few photographers. We became photographers for many of the reasons you so eloquently “ranted” about today — and after doing ONLY photography for 30 years I’m amazed I made it this far, and am no less happy now than when I started that I had the privilege of interpreting our world through a viewfinder.

    So yes, I love photography. But it is very hard, even on a daily basis, as one looks at one’s work, compares it to the flood of great work out there, feels downward pressure on pricing, etc etc etc. I suppose that’s the price one pays for choosing life with a camera.

    In any case, thanks again for the post, and for your response to my comment.

    ~ s

  31. Heather at 11:19 pm

    I rarely comment on blogs, but this post is compelling. I LOVE photography too. I need to endeavor to get my head out of my butt more often and create more of what i love and worry less about what other people are doing. Thank you.

  32. Nick at 11:28 pm

    Wow, awesome read. If you’re not having fun doing photography, you’re not doing it right. And coincidentally, the first person who ALWAYS comes to mind in regards to fun is Terry Richardson. Like you said, a lot of people don’t like him, but he has a style, energy, and an ability to connect with the subjects he shoots that you don’t see every day. Terry was one the first pros who convinced me when I was first getting started 3 years ago that it’s not about the gear, either!

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  35. Elizabeth Schoenborn at 12:12 am

    Fabulous rant and spectacular photo compilation…thanks for keeping the fire burning! I love my Canon 40D…approaching 15,000 pics in two years…and always thrilled to capture a few of those special moments that don’t come along very often.

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  38. Jim Colton at 1:21 am

    Great post Allen…spot on….photography has always been a part of my life and always will be….and yes, I love photography as well. There is nothing quite like having a visceral reaction to an image…news, sports, art….it doesn’t matter. I’ve always said that “For a picture to be effective…it has to be affective.” And great photography will always affect me…but it is especially true when it come to family. I cherish the photos I have with my dad (who inspired me to get into this business) knowing they are my only visual record of times passed…and moments that will live in my heart…always.

  39. Jack Thomas at 1:56 am

    “Tell me that this is a shitty photo. (It is) Tell me that you could have done better. (You could have) Tell me that I didn’t need a $5000 camera to capture this. (I didn’t) Then tell me how I would feel without this photo, and tell me how photography sucks.”

    This, to me, said it all. What an absolutely fantastic blog! And I don’t read blogs! It was as if you were looking into my mind and dragging out the very essence of how I feel about photography and photographers.
    Every photographer should read this….and be humbled by it. Thank you so much, Allen.

  40. Jonny at 2:26 am

    What a brilliant, heartfelt, and terrific post. I love good writing about as much as I do good photography. What you were able to articulate about photography is everything I’d ever want to say. I seriously appreciate your thoughtful words and excellent reminder as to what’s important in this industry. Very inspiring to a young photographer like myself.

    Thank you!

  41. Luke Robinson at 4:22 am

    This is great stuff. So well said. We live in a land of plenty (photography-wise) and there’s no point in trying to belittle people. Or, to paraphrase Louis CK, “Everything is amazing, and nobody’s happy.”

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  43. R.A.P. Maduro at 5:42 am

    This is the kind of thinking that got me in photography in first place. by no means I’m a pro shooter just an enthusiast of this art and reading your article made me realize it once more, i do love photography and the pic of the son with his dad is just what i try to capture that is the style im looking forward to achieve is the meaning of the moment the translation of that piece of time and space that stays 4ever not only for the people on the pic but for the casual viewer as well. thanks for sharing this.

  44. Toby Deveson at 6:21 am

    I use film. I am passionate about it. I am sad about the state of analogue photography. I get frustrated, even cross about it. I have an exhibition coming up which I will be using to sing the praises of film. I have no intention of switching to digital, it is just not my voice.

    It would be too easy to go on to say I hate digital, to blame it. This blog is a perfect, timely reminder that above and beyond everything we are all photographers. Of why I started taking photographs in the first place, of the joy and love of ‘writing with light’.

    Thank you for this, a great read – incredibly uplifting and inspiring,

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  46. Angel at 12:08 pm

    A friend if mine posted this link on fb. This is the first time I’ve heard or seen your blog. This article is awesome. I live photography as well and this explains how I feel about it. People like you and those you wrote about inspire me to be a better photographer. Love what you are doing here.

  47. Laura Morita-Yeun at 12:21 pm

    I seriously totally loved reading this post. It made me cry, and I’m not really a crier. And it made me laugh, and I AM a laugher. Thank you so much. It was well written, the pictures rocked, and I am now inclined to go out there and levitate over a posed, uncooked chicken, while holding a picture of Nicolas Cage on a cupcake. I love photography. Thank you.

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  49. Cari Berry at 12:34 pm

    Wow, what a fabulous post!! Thanks for reminding me that I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY too. Although with all my grumbling about pricing and competition and the destruction of the industry by the MWAC and such, I forgot somehow. This is a great motivation for me to let go of all that negative energy and focus again on just LOVING photography in all its forms. Maybe that will lead to a year of major inspiration and growth for me. Thanks for this awesome lesson….

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  51. Ed Clavel at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing Allen! It is a true testament of passion and creativity to the lens no matter what format or conditions – it’s all about making sure it is captured and shared with the rest of world…

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  53. brittany at 1:54 pm

    my favorite part was comedian Ken Jeong photo bombing super model Kate Upton. and people who said it was demeaning. but a super model looking like she is about to get banged by some guy on a beach, that isnt demeaning? lol people need to lighten up

  54. Mandy Blake at 2:49 pm

    I use my iPhone every day to capture those moments with my kids that would be gone if I took the time to get out the “big guns” every time. They are not always the best quality, but they fill my heart with joy and make the memories last.
    Thank you loving photography like I do!

  55. Renate at 5:55 pm

    Whatever one’s opinion on the subject matter, your ‘rant’ is passionate and beautiful, very much in line with its topic, the love of photography…

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  57. Christy at 10:27 pm

    Wow, I was getting discouraged because I love photography so much, but always feel like I will never be able to master it or take really good photos. Now I know that I have been ok all along. Thank you.

  58. Jo Blackwell at 7:59 am

    Great post – thanks. For me, it’s the fact that your friend will look at that photo and feel his father’s form under his hands, remember the emotions he was experiencing at the instant the shutter clicked and feel his father’s love as expressed at that moment. Absolutely priceless now that his father has gone.

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  61. Hugo at 12:27 pm

    Great Rant! I just love taking photos… i love capturing those memories that will be somehow forgotten in my brain, but that would come alive once i look at a picture.

  62. Tom Anderson at 2:55 pm

    I followed a link to your blog, Allen, from an AnimotoPro tweet and I’m truly glad that I did! I’ve heard this rant from some older photographers from time to time but from one 66 year old computer trainer turned photographer…I agree with what you’ve said. I heard it in the computer industry in Silicon Valley for 30 years. Same rant different products. Computer mmory was $50,000 a byte and now it’s nearly free…how can we make a living on that they said. But yet the industry still lives and thrives and so do good photographers. We have to remember that we are illustrators and story tellers first and picture-takers second. How a person feels when they view a photograph makes all the difference. We have the ability to show only what helps the story. An Emmy winning videographer friend of mine once said, “It doesn’t have to be, it just has to look like it is.” When I shoot a landscape I do my best and I only have to please me. But when I shoot a wedding or gathering of people I try to see them through the eyes of a loved one. And the bonus is if they like the pictures they will buy them.

  63. Adam Silver at 5:57 pm

    Long time ago I worked for a small newspaper in the Bay Ara.. my boss – the managing editor was a Harvard educated totally socialist hippie.. His favorite word for things that he REALLY like was “Brill” I adopted it and only use it sparingly, to keep it elevated… that being said..

    that sir was Brill.


  64. Viva at 8:20 am

    I’m an amateur who is captivated by the visual. Thanks for the rant. Sometimes it’s all about capturing a memory – even with a cellphone.

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  69. Sophie Carr at 4:59 pm

    Fantastic piece Allen – very uplifting. The chicken made me laugh; so much of it did. Now I have to share it. And tomorrow and forever more I will take more photos – I love photography!

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  72. Bill Sharon at 11:35 pm

    Fantastic posting, Allen! Took me a few days to get to it … Wow! The range of vision and emotion is sooo inspiring. The last photo and story was a perfect ending and poignantly brings to focus that it really is all about who is in the picture. Thanks for an inspiring read!

  73. David Smith at 1:51 am

    Allen. You are both amazing and inspirational, Keep motivating us old photogs to never stop. I promise to keep FEELING the passion of photographing and befriending people worldwide as a result of a camera around my neck and your love of photography. Your rant inspires me even more! Cheers!

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  77. Dan at 4:27 am

    I agree with the sentiment of this article – now is a great time for photography!

    I’d like to make one pedantic comment if I could, though – I don’t know exactly how old Natsumi Hayashi (the levitating girl from Japan) is, but I know for sure that she is not a teenager 😀

  78. Brian Masserman at 11:41 am

    I hate it and love it at the same time. Such a thin line. As a pro for 25 years, I get it!
    Reinventing oneself is key to enduring a love/hate career in this field. One can only hope there is more love than hate, however

  79. Danika at 12:03 pm

    Hey allen, You have no idea how I needed something like this this morning! It means so much to me that someone understands. I’m really struggling with photography. I’m in school right now, but it cost me a lot to get here. I woke up one morning, decided to quit everything, my home, my university, my love to get to do this. I now work 30 hours a week on top of my 40 hour school week to be able to afford the best education I can in this subject. after three days of working for more then 18 hours a day and less then 4hours of sleep a night, for some, photography just isn’t worth it. But to me it is, and to know that I’m not crazy, to know that some people out there are as crazy as me for photography gives me hope that I’m not wasting my time, and that my dreams of changing the world one picture at a time may one day come true. Thank You Thak you, Thank you!

  80. Ruth Bilowus Butler at 12:09 pm

    I love your style – you’re a petri dish of creativity! You remind me of the happy accidents of photography. when I first began taking photos in the 70’s I developed film to discover one negative was, I thought, defective. The man in the doorway had no head! He was smoking, turned his head towards his left shoulder into the shadow – the smoke plume from his cigarette replaced his head. wow – I then loved photography too. Les Krims was my instructor. I think that photo got me the only A in his class. Cindy Sherman who was two years behind me though got all the fame – she deserves.

    I’m your new fan.

  81. Ely at 6:25 am

    Thank you! Reading your article – while contemplating what camera to get – reminded me of the most important thing about photography (to me at least): the subject/object. Yes, the technical specificities do make a difference, but looking at that image of your friend hugging his father, I was deeply touched. I believe there’s no use having the fanciest equipment on earth, if you can’t frame a shot that says something special.

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  89. Naveen at 9:34 am

    thank you so much… for writing this.. can’t thank you enough for this…so true that it just blew me away and made me realize many points where my attitude is wrong…

  90. Renee at 9:56 am

    Thank you for a great read. And @ Sophie, I totally get where you are coming from. Allen, the photo of your friend hugging his dad really pulled at my heartstrings. As a wedding photographer (who definitely IS earning less than I did two years ago), its my job to capture special moments, not just the key shots like first kiss,the cake cutting etc The family shots may be stock standard shots, but my couples cherish them more than anything. . I noticed one of my brides put a shot that I had taken of her grandmother kissing her after the ceremony on her facebook page.. Underneath my image it said ” rest in peace nan, you will be missed” it brought tears to my eyes. I remembered the brides nan, and I had the honour of capturing that moment. I love my what I do and am honoured to be chosen to capture these moments. How lucky am I.. Thanks again for a great read 🙂

  91. Jenny at 10:12 am

    YES!! Thank you for writing this blog. I am SO FREAKING SICK of all the pro photog WHINERS carrying on about how photography is in this downhill slide, and they just don’t feel special anymore because any “mom-with-a-camera” can now take great pictures all by herself. A person whose blog I follow has started asking questions on her Facebook page about what people think about various things….and all of these questions are coming from her own insecurity—that always have this really negative, gonna-protect-what-is-mine vibe. But you, she started out as the much reviled MWAC. Photography’s evolution was pushed forward by the amateurs, by the independent photo cowboys who just wanted to see what they could do, and they shared it with the rest of the world. Photography is no discipline for snobs. It never was.

    So, it’s nice to read this. Really nice.

  92. Tirish Manoury at 10:16 am

    Lovely article! Tweeted, facebook’d, everything!
    I love photography, I love what it is. And I am learning just to take better picture more quickly.
    I think Professionals aren’t threaten by amateurs and by photography being accessible. Not everyone want to buy expensive gear or carry heavy gear with them, Not everyone want to go and measure the temperature colour and so on… c:
    I find it very nice now that people can capture moments and share throughout the world.

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  94. Sannetta Marsh Photogrpahy at 12:12 am

    A+MAZING! I for one am sick of the attitude you have to be proficient in Photoshop to be a great photographer, or the notion you have a certain number of bookings to even BE a photographer or the idea you have to be making six figures in your photography business to be successful. So many people need to understand one thing, I do it for the love of it. The sheer thrill of capturing that smile, those eyes, that dimple, those hands, that wrinkle, that innocence, that frown, that tear, that kiss, that embrace, that magic moment….when you LOVE to capture these things (and more) in a photograph and YOU ACTUALLY DO, you LOVE photography! Plain and simple. Thanks for not over complicating what photography is.
    Photography defined is this.
    “The art or practice of taking and processing photographs.”

  95. Tasha at 12:30 am

    I LOVE photography and your article made me smile to read your passion and thanks for sharing these great images. Although I am an amateur, I can’t stop looking at every moment and thinking of how it should be captured and the story it could tell… I love street photography and human interest… I don’t think I could ever get sick of watching people go about their daily lives…..

  96. AlohaKarina at 3:35 pm

    This is the best article about photography I think I have ever read. I loved it so much, I reblogged it–with my own introduction. I thank you for writing what the rest of us have always felt, but were too nervous to say out loud to the “pros” who openly disdain the simpler images.


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  98. Amanda at 7:19 am

    I have bookmarked this to read again, again, and again. I hope all photographers take a moment to read this post. It may just give them a fresh perspective. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  99. john emrys at 11:47 am

    This couldn’t be more timely. At a point where people are already debating the “resurgence of film,” they’re missing the point. Stop whining; just get out there. Producing an original piece is still possible. I have to believe that.

    Ten points to you for an incredible rant, Allen.

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  102. Peter Stjerne Klinkvort at 1:33 pm

    The best rant ever, so down right true. The wedding photo of father and son, closes up beautifully the article. Tears to the eye did occur.

  103. Laura Cook at 5:16 pm

    Thank you so much for this post/rant/uplifting photo essay! Some of my favourite images of recent months in there and also some little gems I had not seen. Beyond that though you have just captured the love of images for the stories they tell, the windows to the world they open, the laughter (and tears) they can evoke. I love photography too.

  104. Kyera at 6:39 am

    Great story and very inspiring! I agree that there’s too many “rules” and negative feelings toward photography that have nothing to do with photography so I for one am going to go back to loving photography too!

  105. Bjarte Edvardsen at 7:23 am

    Hello Photoshelter. I love the love. A very good blog and brilliant guides, which I’ve read quite a few of recently. Please continue spread the passion you obviously have for what you do – it makes my work more fun that way. If I get rich someday – I might become a client of yours. // Bjarte

  106. Chrystina at 5:59 pm

    Thank you for such an AWESOME set of pictures. I surprisingly hadn’t seen that first picture – but ended up lost in the links you provided for it. It’s amazing what you can capture with a good photograph.

  107. ben at 5:35 pm

    “first image isn’t ‘love’… she was trampled in the crowd and her boyfriend is trying to comfort her while waiting for paramedics.”

    Seems that it would be love considering that he waited and comforted her.

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  109. Pille at 5:30 am

    This is, without a doubt, the best post I have ever read about photography. I now have a small handwritten sign with “I Love Photography” hanging on the wall beside my computer screen. So I would never again forget. Thank you.

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  111. ictus75 at 1:05 pm

    Wow! This says it all, and then some. Thank you!

    I love photography Too. And it’s never the camera, it’s all about the subject.

  112. Bobbie Jansen at 2:15 am

    Wow! Well said in words and in the 1000+ word photos!! Glad to see this all said! I also believe we are in an almost insatiable period for photos and images and I am glad. I am the kind of person who can not stop in the middle of something to take a photo and am so glad someone else can and does!!! I love setting up photos and am obsessed by it, people always think it is interesting that I do not take “live” photos..

  113. Paul mee at 7:37 pm

    Totally bloody brilliant! Well said that man 🙂 It’s ALWAYS a great time to be a photographer…if you love photography. If all you can do is demean others work with your own petty jealousies, make every excuse in the book about why you can’t create images that resonate, (even if they only resonate with you, who cares!), refuse to reach out & encourage others on the same journey and see the beauty in all kinds of endeavour, then maybe the creative life is not for you? In Aussie we have a cover all saying “Go Hard or Go Home” in other words, get stuck in and stop whining or just go away! Cheers, Paul.
    Foto Brio

  114. Aiza at 2:47 am

    I am happy to see and read this blog. I enjoy the the pictures, the motivating words and the comments. I Love Photography too. Good job! This is very powerful article. This will get more beautiful comments because this is BEAUTIFUL.

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  116. Victoria Medina at 12:41 pm

    I love your blog post!!! Great images. Thank you for sharing the image about your friend’s father. The most important part is that the shot was taken and the image exist. It is a beautiful image and I do not agree with you, it is not in anyway shape are form a shitty photo. It is the best photo that could have been taken in the moment and it is beautiful, because it captured the moment and that is what photography is all about. A shitty photo is when you look at the image and you are sad, because it was closed to capturing the moment, but they just missed the mark. You did not miss the moment you captured it for eternity. That is not shitty. Thank you also for including all the other images you selected. I love photography and thank you so much for sharing.

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  119. Trevor Harvey at 1:32 am

    Most inspiring and full of truths. One guy yearns to return to film, fair enough, while another rejoices (me) cos the crappy development my local camera shop got with my AE1-P efforts can’t match the great pics my basic Nikon DSLR and cute GF-1 can capture, nor the printing I can do with my photo printer. I love my HOBBY, I make no money, from it but, I love of working on a big monitor. I love cropping, so irreligious I know, but I relish the shot within the shot. And photo burst mode – heresy, I know! – but helped me get great pics of my dog shaking after a river swim. I dig the sites that show how to rig cheap substitutes for expensive kit, and I love looking through old LIFE mags on Google Books to see how photographers worked from the 40s thru the 60s. I love it all. Photography helps us to see properly. We miss so much, till we look closer. Great blog, spoke volumes to me. The hug pic — fantastic shot, the key is the flesh tone; pull the red out till that looks right and it’s there.

  120. Billy at 4:53 am

    That is an awesome article. You debunked so many of the things that people “hate”. I love the one about your friends Dad. Thanks for such a positive rant.

  121. Roger at 8:39 am

    Seriously Allen, such great words. You did a fantastic job capturing what it truly means to love photography. Thank you for your rant, it’s much appreciated.

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  125. Aster David at 12:24 am

    Allen, I’ve just fallen head over heels in love with the genius brain of yours and astonishing eye for detail….after stumbling upon this article…..No actually, this blog.

  126. Rohit at 11:28 am

    I generally dont comment on articles. But this one is just amazing. Ultimately, photographs are what’s there for posterity. People look back at old pictures and think about the good/ bad times they had.

  127. Tim at 5:43 pm

    Loved the rant. Love photography too, even though I’m not a professional, or maybe because of it. Whenever any photo elicits an emotional reaction, it’s done its job, whether it’s a beautifully staged portrait, or a sort of crappy smartphone pic that captures just the right look..one that pushes those emotional buttons. Nice work Allen.

  128. John B Turner at 6:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing your excitement and delight about the magic of photography which can be so easy and so difficult. We come down to one picture that says so much about the special nature of the photograph, and how democratic the medium can be. The photograph of your friend and father is beautiful, not because it is perfect, but it has captured the feeling of a loving moment, and that is more important than perfection.

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  131. Anonymous at 8:56 am

    Thank you Allen for the perspective. We can deal with people who complain, it would be more tragic if photography wouldn’t be as accessible as it is today. I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY and i catch myself saying that often, but never thought to sum it up the way you did. Bravo!

  132. K Ollman at 11:51 am

    THANK YOU for saying what I’ve felt for years. I shoot for emotion, not for praise. I give away a LOT of free pictures to mom’s who can now have a memory of their child at this age making “that play”.

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    Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog based upon on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you
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  135. Sharon at 10:40 am

    wow, my feelings exactly. Your honest post says it all. For years I have enjoyed photography just for the sake of taking a picture and enjoying looking back on the memories. When I share the photos with subjects they are surprised and happy to know a record of the precious moments exists which they can fondly look back upon.

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  139. Paulina Sobczak at 2:03 pm

    Amazing pictures. The one with the couple in front of the riot is my favourite. And the one where the guy sets himself on fire is truly shocking. Someone must be so desperate to set themselves on fire.


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