What Does Photography Mean to You?


Everyone asks what photography means to me. What inspires me? I’m expected to have some pre-written answer. A prepared retort filled with an inspirational quote worthy message. But, the truth is that photography means something different to me every time I go out to shoot. You don’t need to a reason to be a photographer, because that reason can, and will, change every single day. To me, photography is a way to capture the world. Somedays, it’s just my way of manipulating the world into a mood or vision I have for it. Photography is my artistic outlet. With a press of the shutter, I can capture how I feel about a specific moment. A fragment of time trapped on my sensor. And, sure, there are days that photography is about inspiration. There are days it’s about sharing the joy of the world. About harnessing the beauty of our planet. Other days, though, photography is simply about getting me out. I can be an introverted cave-dweller; I’ll want to hide away in hotel rooms for days. Photography gets me out. It pulls me to the seas, cliffs, and landscapes. It drags me through the narrow streets, and into the markets of the world. Photography brings me face to face with people I’d never have had the chance to meet without it. Photography, is friendship. Photography is peace and calm. It’s harnessed excitement. That moment from when the mirror clacks, the shutter snaps to when the image is revealed is pure power. And no matter how many thousand times I press that shutter, it still gives me butterflies. Photography is love. But most of all, photography is vulnerability and courage. Through all the images I’ve taken, all the video clips I’ve rolled, all moments I’ve captured, nothing has brought me more joy than the empowerment that comes from sharing this beautiful craft back to a world that has given me so much. So, what does photography mean to you?

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100 thoughts on “What Does Photography Mean to You?

  1. 2 days in a row my photography love story posted at the wrong time. I guess it just wanted to get out there to the world.
    Thanks for liking, sharing and subscribing: http://www.youtube.com/user/brendanvanson

  2. Meditation, anticipation, excitement, disappointment, relaxation, exercise, companionship, loneliness, mental and physical health, PEACE.

  3. Photography, to me, is getting out of the apartment and doing something which might let me give something back to my parents that I've created. I'm not good at working with wood, or with metal etc, and quite frankly I don't think I'm that good a photographer either (at least I've yet to find a picture I think is powerful enough to give to them), but thanks to the inspiration I'm getting from a lot of the photographers I follow here on youtube, of which you're one of the first (if not the first, it's been a few years) I subscribed to, I feel I'm gradually improving and getting closer to that point every single time I go out.

  4. Great short video Brendan – ultimately photography is an intimate escape for me. It’s just me and what’s in front of me and everything else is muted. Have a great day!

  5. I like the more reflective video, though it probably won't get as much views, I like them far better than the technical stuff. And I'm with you, photography is the one thing that makes me go out and explore the world. Thanks for this video!

  6. Photography is a mirror to my being, how I see the world. The urge to create, explore, observe is a passion. Photography helps me to record these things.

  7. Brendan, Thank you for sharing what photography means to you, for me its friendship, its an extension of me and what makes me. It takes me to places I would not have thought about before and explore. Its ruined my enjoyment of looking at other photos, I now look at composition, lighting and wonder if I could do better but when that one picture does appear with that wow factor I can sit back and appreciate what effort has gone into making and sharing their art.

  8. Apart from being still a very expensive hobby??? For me it's a way to share my view and my perception of things with the rest of the world (since we are in the social media age), it's a way to inspire and being inspired, it's a way to show people beautiful things and make them forget, for a little while, of all the ugliness and it's a way to connect (although I think that photography is a lonely path)

  9. You hit the nail on the head there Brendan, you’re spot on! What photography is to me is escapism – I lost my Dad last year which affected me a lot and part of processing what happened was through using photography and it also changed what photography meant to me. I use it as a way of capturing the beauty around me, recording experiences and pure escapism – I can quite easily lose myself I get so focused! I used to take images for the sake of it, but now I put a lot more thought into what I’m doing, it’s a way of getting out there and going to new places and meeting new people. I’m lucky that my husband also has an interest in photography, but it probably means something completely different to him! I am lucky to live in Devon, one of the most beautiful places in the UK and I’m also very close to Cornwall so there’s always something to photograph!

  10. You said it so perfectly Brendan, and photography means many of the same things to me too. I can especially relate since I can also be an introvert, & it gets me out of that space, with a soul-fueled purpose to get out, create, & share. I would just add that for when I shoot portraits, it’s an important way for me to connect with others, document their lives, & to make them happy by doing so. Thank you for inspiring me to travel more this past year & capture life around the world. I was having a sappy day inside on that rainy evening you had the photo meetup in NY, & your excitement & passion for photography snapped me out of it, & got me out of my apt. Now I’ve been traveling for the past 3 months & have experienced & captured places I never would have seen before. Thank you for encouraging us all to keep shooting, & for sharing your life, photo tips, & incredible photography! It’s loved & appreciated, & I hope you know just how much! Cheers, Christina

  11. Photography to me is a reset button. It can clear away a mind full of crap and contaminated thinking. It's an escape, a way to free your mind of everything besides how to capture what you see. It some days makes me feel closer to my deceased papa (grandad) as it was our "thing"
    You are right. Thinking avout it, it can mean something different each time. Good video!

  12. Photography to me is a way of capturing the world. A reason to stand still, look around and appreciate your surroundings. A way of showing the people how much beauty this world has to offer.

  13. For me, photography is a kind of vacation away from the everyday madness going on in the world, too. It helps me to not going crazy, to calm down and relax. Just to think about… nothing. Like some kind of meditation.

  14. It used to be about the peace and quiet sitting on a deserted beach with music in my ears, beanie on my head, hoodie on, camera in hand and loosing myself for 4 hours while shooting surfers. This on a cold winters day when nobody walks in your way.
    Then getting home and sifting through pics selecting those to share. The wow feeling when you see your images, which makes sitting out there in the freezing cold well worth it. Nothing better I tell you.
    Now I can’t do that. Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis has taken away the ability to walk and sit on the sand. My knees are finished. But, that has opened other doors for me, and when I get the chance, have done other kinds of photography. So much to learn. So much to see.
    Thanks Brendan, channels like yours take me places and gives me (us all) inspiration we all need to get up, get out and try. Love the hand-on, realness approach of yours, and appreciate the time and effort you put in.

  15. Oh, and absolutely love the music!!!! (And so very late this week on all your vlogs, but have just caught up!) 105th & 106th!😆😂

  16. Poetic, love it! Was just reflecting earlier on how it helps me re-fall in love with the city where i live, or wherever I am when I have that tendency to hibernate.

  17. That was something else!!!
    Photography to me gave new vision to see the world, i probably would never get up so early just to see how sun rise, if not photography i would miss so much beautiful moments around, amazing light, it always reminds me how amazing place is the world! 🙂

  18. Speaking as an amateur photographer, I think possibly the most inspirational short film I have seen in a long time. My photography means both capturing random moments for posterity, and also making a permanent record of the beauty of the world we live in. Many thanks Brendan.

  19. Love this. Thanks for sharing what this craft means to you. For me it is also philosophical, I love trying to capture moments that matter and express meaning. Photography has given me a way to view the world that has taken me beyond myself.

  20. Many of the things you said, were what photography is to me. It’s my happy place. When I go out and shoot I feel good, i feel better if I get the shot I was looking for. It is that magical moment when you know you captured that exact moment and it’s never coming back. It’s that satisfaction that you have produced something beautiful by yourself that other people cannot and so many other things! By the way that was a beautiful video.

  21. Photography to me is escape and it makes me realize that I can do it,,even with my health issues,and when people love your pictures,, that's a bonus…Thank you so much for making your videos,,when I watch your videos it makes me want to get out and take pictures..From Nebraska..

  22. Photography to me is breaking out of my office job, getting to know all the beautiful faces of nature. Very inspirational video man!

  23. I surely wasn't expecting an existential discussion so early on a Sunday morning on this channel. Maybe hanging out in the shadow of the Greek gods is having an effect. Nicely done! Rock on!

  24. Photography is what my mind get refreshed everytime I shoot nature no matter how good or bad the weather is. It just give me something new with every click.

  25. Great narrative bud… really sums up a lot. For me, photography is freedom and allows me to express creativity without constraint. I can’t write, draw, paint etc… but I still have this creative side of me that’s been screaming to get out most of my life. Only starting my real photographic journey 2 years ago, I feel freedom and excitement every single day. Self taught and inspired by the 10-15 minute vlogs from people that really have changed my life. Photography is for me, passion and life! Cheers Jase

  26. Photography to me means making new friends and capturing the world as I explore. I sometimes don’t feel like I look back on pictures taken. I press the shutter, but then when I get home I store them on a hard drive and haven’t even edited them.
    I’m thinking about starting a different channel about my journey learning photography. Scrap that, I’m going to do it. I just don’t know if I should add it to my current channel or make a new one. 😊🤔

  27. I don't know what it means to me. I like photography, I want to get better at it and I love nature and wildlife. I'm mostly a lone wolf, I do things on my own. I do have friends but none in the photography world (I have more in the fly fishing world). In the end, maybe I'm trying to capture the beauty of nature and to keep it's memory of it (maybe I'm just to down to earth kind of guy). Thomas Heaton inspired me to grab a camera and take photos of nature and I'm also thinking (for the first time) of printing some for myself and hang them on the wall in the living room.

  28. I'm sorry, but I'm showing my age here… I had to laugh when you said this line, "That moment from when the mirror clacks, the shutter snapsto when the image is revealed is pure power." When I was your age (ha! Can't believe I just said that!) but that moment after the shutter snapped, there was…. nothing… you had to advance the film to the next frame, and if you were lucky, you got your prints back the same day. In fact, I found rolls of exposed film I have never had developed! I didn't really have anything to say with that, other than it was a good chuckle to read that, and think about how it was when I was a kid… And yeah, if I had the choice, I'd take the immediate image of today over the wait and see of yesterday. I love digital!

  29. Photography brings the greatest joy when you get "THAT" shot and others see it and can feel the moment. It is also the biggest frustration when you miss the moment, loose the light or worse just don't get there before the light is gone. It is a journey that is never complete while you continue to hone your craft seeking to improve, to find new locations, new people and new ways to show the story. It is a lifetime adventure. While I sit here after rising early-going an hour away- fresh batteries, new memory cards, clean lenses and the best of gear, the light never came and the gear stayed in the bag-discouraged? Nope because tonight, tomorrow or someday soon I will get one of those shots that will bring the joy, the smiles, the shot that will slow someones hectic life down for a moment to look and imagine themselves at that place, smell the salt in the air or feel the warmth of the sun. (likely in Maine it will be the cold of the snow sooner now that it is autumn)

  30. Photography is inspiration, exploration, experimentation, and creation all rolled into one. It is calming and exciting – a reason to get out and move, a way of seeing and sharing. And no explanation can ever quite describe the process.

  31. To me it is capturing a moment that you usually would never seen again, it' s also making new friends and perspective of the world 😊

  32. Photography means a lot of things to me but capturing a moment in time that will never happen again is special, sure you can go back and photograph the same scene again but that is capturing a different moment in time where everything will not be the same. It is a moment in your life where your eyes were capturing their own image and you get to keep that.

  33. Well done with the video! I feel like every photographer (amateur or professional) should watch this. When I go out and take pictures of my travels, I feel that it is a way for me to share my travels with the world and show how great our world is similar to what you said. It is also a way to show cool places to encourage people to go visit them for themselves and explore our world.

  34. For me, photography is satisfaction. I love making images, I love sharing them, I love what recognition I get for my images and I love the process of getting out and shooting. Mostly, it is about satisfying myself. I don't sell my work, but I am driven to photograph the world around me. Some of it may seem mundane to most but that does not deter me from taking my camera out as often as I can.

  35. Photography means freedom to me. Freedom from a past of never chosing something fullfiling for my life. Freedom from the internal voice that's says your not good enough. Freedom from the 9-5, plastic name tag, uninspiring grind I've put myself into. Photography is hope of a better life of courage and beauty and creativity. Like you I would spend days inside hiding from the world, but now I Am a Photographer and I have to go out and shoot because it is who I am. Thanks to you, Greg Snell, Thomas Heaton, Peter Mckinnon and others who have brought passion back into my life. Special thanks to Jodie for upping my Instagram game.

  36. Powerful stuff Brendan, I really like and can relate to your narrative here. Thanks so much for sharing this and everything else along the way.

  37. Great question. To be honest, and I hate my answer here, but it's about money now. It's my JOB. I'm an auto dealership inventory photographer. Most of it is bang it out type work, but occasionally I get to do some nice arty stuff for print media and video work as well. There's NO passion to it at all, it's just what I do to make a living. Being that it's photography, it's still better than jobs i've had in the past, but I feel as though it's KILLING my passion and love for photography. I started as a nature shooter. Wildlife and landscapes were all I cared about. Then, the thirst to explore other avenues of the art took over. I've been a published rock concert photographer (which was super fun), wedding, portrait, and even some product stuff photographer as well. None of it compared to the feeling I had waking up at dawn to shoot a landscape at Red Rock in Nevada, or fawns nursing from their mother right outside my camper. Even a bad day of nature photography was better than most times of my life doing just about anything else. My wife has gotten me back into it gradually, as well as watching some of my favorite photogs on youtube. We go out on drives at least twice a month now, shooting whatever we find. The love and passion is coming back, and I'm very glad it is. Thanks to you, and a myriad of other 'togs on here that show their passion within every vlog you all make.

  38. To be able to create images and capture those memories around that image to share is a passion that is different every day. No stress or worries when I’m out capturing images, it’s fresh air and a healthy mindset. Thanks for sharing.

  39. First off great video as always. Second photography to me is a escape, I'm not a professional photographer, I have a full-time job in construction. So on weekends I like to go out and escape from my everyday worries of work and bills and just be in that moment capturing the shot.

  40. I was wondering why this video disappeared the other day. I really wanted to watch it! Glad it's up now. Thanks for the inspiration! To me, photography is all of these things. Most importantly, it's a record of my adventures, something that helps me remember the actual moments I've witnessed with my own two eyes. Yes, it's also an artistic outlet, and I chase good compositions just like everybody else does. But I'm out there in the wilderness for the sole purpose of getting out there and escaping all my digital screens, so my interest in staring at a computer screen in a "digital darkroom" is very low. I keep the post-production to a minimum, and worry about planning my next adventure. 🙂

  41. One of your best video's I loved the way you summed it all up, gave a 👍 even before half way through. Photography to me? Like a lot here more than likely without even reading through the comments, the chance to express my self, not good at drawing, painting, or putting things in to words. Getting out and going different places and bringing back memories some in my mind and others from the film and now senor of my camera. Bravo 👏

  42. Great question and great answer! Love the video and how you explain it. You sum it up about as good as one could do! Great job 🍻 photography to me is a way to inspire me to get out and show people how I see the world and to meet new people and to get a great workout in. It brings me a sort of fulfillment when I capture something the way I see it.

  43. I am an Anxious manic depressive. The last 2 years have seen me on the verge of taking my own life several times. what does photography mean to me? it means changing the defeated feeling i get when i wake up disappointed i haven't died in my sleep to looking forward to the next photo i take.

  44. For me it is the way I can be me I can express myself for me there is no right or wrong just interpret life through a lens is focused without it there is no clarity

  45. Photography means it’s the closest I’ll get to being a Time Lord. When I press that button I’m stopping, capturing time for that moment.

  46. I see what you’re trying to do, finishing with a question. You think I’m just going to roll up my sleeves and open my mouth and tell you? You want to hear things like escaping the mundane, opening my eyes through the lens to the beauty otherwise overlooked or passed by… you want to hear about meeting people with the simple act of offering to take their photo. Well, sir, I’m not falling for it.

  47. Photography means a lot to me. Every single time I click the shutter, I realize that I am capturing the way that I see a scene in that split second. Next second, the scene can change and you have another image. Photography allows me to show the world what I saw in that split second, even through my eyes, without having to explain the scene. Those images, are worth a thousand words. Sometimes when I edit an image, the image changes from the moment that I captured it into something more. That something more is how my minds eye saw the scene and I am grateful that I have skills/tools in place to make those images happen. Keep up the videos, you are inspiring me more each time!

  48. This video was something…. very strong, sharing your inner thoughts… very well said and executed. I might be one of those different people here. Photography to me is a hobby, job… BUT… combining it with my videos I create as well (I really don't want to advertise here at all), the main reason I do photography, shoot weddings, spend endless hours on computer is to get my husband out of painting and construction business. He used to play hockey for Slovakia, national level, unfortunately snapped both achilles tendons in the process, stopped playing hockey, is taking care of our kids and our family…… and is getting tired….. it is my turn to provide.. it is my turn to take photography to the highest level I am capable off and also hoping that my videos will like people…. thank you Brenden for giving us your thoughts and also let me think about my purpose… your videos really inspire… keep up the hard work.

  49. Thanks Brendan for sharing what photography means to you! Beautiful, honest reflection. To me photography is a new world I’m just beginning to explore and enjoy. It’s risking developing a new dimension at 59. I’m discovering the intricacies and power of an image. Thanks for the encouragement!

  50. Mate you have nailed it. You can very very proud of this piece. In 2:30 you captured the essence of many many photographers.
    And, and you could quite proudly stand next to Sean Tucker for speaking from the heart. Well done… and the music, awesome, doesn’t a piano just set the mood so well. 👍🏻❤️❤️🍷☕️📷

  51. Great one brendan! Just saw a video of you at Morten's channel and it made me to come back at your's channel and im glad i did…I will subscribe back and never leave haha 😉👍👌

  52. Uncharacteristically eloquent for you Brendan! Well said and well received….I had never really considered why I love photography, but many of your sentiments were spot on.

  53. Well said, definitely connected with the part that says "photography it gets me out". I enjoy the challenge of looking for an interesting composition, yes it can be a pain in the butt at times, but when you finally capture it, that feeling is amazing and then you download the image onto your computer open the image in Lightroom, crop in and realize you missed the focus, but that's another story hahaha

  54. From someone that counts stick people as art. Being able to create beauty with the click of a button. Photography is love.

  55. Wanted to explore this globe as you also like to do, your videos are inspiring me much more but there is a one huge problem that make every person to think before they wanted to step out over this place i don't have any idea how to explore this world without even thinking of your pocket. How to make money to travel this globe?
    As usual you say that the real dream is that, a hope which stay alive to you as long as you can't sleep. Love to take pictures but there are some huge problem for money. Mid night in India right now still weak up and research how to travel plz explain me for more details if it possible,🙂

  56. Woah! Amazing video…inspired me to go out and I got the most amazing photos I ever taken. Photography for me is a huge stress fix. (I'm saying this at age 15, talking like a 65 year old!) it allows me to get out and capture some amazing scene's. I wouldn't have met half the people I know! sure, I just use a older 550d with a 24-70mm and a few lee filters, but I love capturing the world!

  57. Photography to me is capturing the memories and moments; as well as having a creative outlet. I see that with your channel. It is what I try to capture and do with mine as well, though from a different perspective. The memory and moment part is something like the telling of a story if you will. The creative side is learning how to do it better and get better. This is a trial and error process. but feel like I'm getting better at. There are things I've learned from your photos and looking at how you doing it. As well as how you have gotten better over the past 2 years I've been watching this channel. So basically, it is trying to capture life that we are experiencing, and sharing it. Hoping that others are inspired to do something creative; no matter what level your on. Even though some people are satisfied with snapshots only and don't get the art of it. Perhaps when the moment or memory means more, than the creative part will be taken more serious. sorry for the long comment.

  58. I love your work, and this is no exception. Beautifully written. A nice brief contemplative diversion from your other well crafted stories and instructional fare.

  59. Inspiring words! And beautifully shot. Photography for me is the freedom to explore then create from the fruits of my observations and appreciations of the world around me! I think that covers it🤤

  60. For me it is the perfect marriage of technology and art. Sometimes it just marveling at the art of the physical gear how it can disappear and become the instrument of my intent. Sometimes it’s using the gear as a ticket to escape, to suck in a great big gulp of refreshment for my soul. Sometimes it’s a kick in the pants to peek my head out of my comfort zone.

    Regardless I love your channel and am gobsmacked that you put out so much content.

    Cheers

  61. Beautiful words. I particularly identify with the phrase“getting out” . I work 9-5 in an office, so photography is my excuse to wander around, and get some much needed fresh air. Also it allows me to make me think differently, use a different side of my brain. After going out with my camera, I often come back feeling relaxed and refreshed.

  62. Photography (to me) means seeing a world that some people don't take the time or don't look close enough to see. When I see those hidden worlds, I try to capture it and share it so others can perhaps peek into that hidden world, too.

  63. Late to the party, again I know. Definitely my camera has gotten me to places I always wanted to go but always made excuses not to.

  64. photography mean love which can't express but we can feel and mainly recognizing the value of picture

  65. After I watched your video, I automatically subsribed man. Sometimes there are thoughts that comes in my minds that I forgot the answer. I became too shallow to my answer. I kept searching till I found your video, you just spit out the right and most profound philosophical standpoint of photography. It still hold true that everytime I press the shutter button I get butterflies for every moment I want to freeze and store in my memory. It's really a joy. Thanks man! God bless.

  66. why do you act like Peter mc being inspired by someone is totally different of being him acting like him stealing his ideas.what i'm trying to say here is why have you limited "the teach them Tuesday" ( which obviously sounds perfectly like two munite Tuesday) to five munite just to say the sentence " i will try to stick to the time marge " which is a sentence that will kick every peter fan (knowing that most photography lovers are his fans). what you really need is stopping faking him and start working with his advises you have potentiel that not lots of people haven't so work on it ; Go The Extra Mile!!
    i'm out of your channezl for a couple of months but coming back i want to see brendon van sony 😉

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