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What is amateur photography?

Was it really important for me to take an afternoon to get to this location and take this picture? I know I had fun doing it, and maybe that’s all amateur photography is supposed to be, but I’ve taken the same looking shot a dozen times before. Does a person who takes nice (e.g.) cloud shots, like me, have to take and post 100 of them to Flickr? Ten years from now will I still be taking this shot? Why do I need to look at new photos from my contacts and others, wouldn’t looking at the pictures that I’ve faved already give me equal or even more pleasure? Why is amateur photography like food—no matter how good the previous meal, we’re always wanting to consume more the next day?

 

First, visual stimulation is enhanced by novelty of stimulus—in other words, people respond more strongly to seeing something new than old. Few of us spend five minutes looking at a photograph, even a famous one. Unlike a video, or a piece of music, or a conversation, the stimulus doesn't continue over time--it's there and that's it. We get our endorphin hit from the photo and move on to the next one. As artists we amateur photographers have to create a lot of photos because that’s how they’re consumed and because the medium and technology allows us to create a lot of photos quickly and cheaply.

 

Second, amateur photography is about recording history. I take a new photo today because I exist. Photography is the way we share our lives with others and remind ourselves of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. With Flickr I have seen the whole world and experienced many things vicariously, because people are recording and sharing their histories with me.

 

So here you go, another pretty cloud shot, because I was there.

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Taken on February 13, 2012