I have been working on some thoughts about “The Why”. What is a why and what makes it so important to me? I believe that I have always known “why” I do or do not do certain things, or why I love the things I love. But after mentoring this one particular photographer, I started to understand why I believed in ” the why”. It turns out that it is not about the why, but about “my why” or YOUR “why”. To love what you or I do, I believe it is imperative to understand the “whys”.
It was in the middle of our first discussion about “Why do you want to be a photographer?” that brought it all home for me. I have been in the business of photography for 25 years, and I have always loved it! (You better love what you do if you do it for 20+ years…. or 5+ years even) But it was just a few months ago that I realized it was not just loving the profession or the art of photography. No, it was my “why” that continued to drive me to do photography for so many years! You can love a song, a lyric. You can love the way someone pronounces a word or a certain language. So doing something that you love is a rather silly reply to anything you do for a decade or longer. It is the WHY that drives us to be the best we can be. It is the WHY that makes us want to do the thing we love to do.
So, the screenshot I have posted here is just one of my WHYs for doing photography. I posted this image on Facebook 14 years ago I guess. And just the other day the mother of the gentleman in the photo was moved enough to tag me in her reply as it showed up in her FB memories. 14 years ago. 14 years ago and the image still makes an impression. Wonderfully enough the two in this photo have had several wonderful children, and I have also been lucky enough to capture more great memories for them. 14 years later!
My why, for doing this photography thing, is not due to my love of the medium. I love the smell of fixer and developer, the sound of a mechanical shutter, and the weight of a large format camera. I love holding fiber-based prints in my hands and when one of my subjects holds an album designed just for them. I do love to talk gear and to talk to other photographers. That is still not a reason to do photography for 25 years. It is all about the WHY. My why is connection. My why is giving to future generations.
Gear is gear. The road to success in the arts is not the latest and greatest in gear or trends. My opinion of the road to success is strength in vision, presentation, and willingness to put the work in. Chase Jarvis coined the phrase, “The best camera is the one in your hands.” I fully believe that quote. That said, I also LOVE gear!
I tend to trade in full-camera systems when I read about or physically test-drive a different lens. I don’t switch to upgraded camera bodies or the “newest” rage in photography. It is the lens that makes me want to switch. Or it is a new system perhaps?
***My first switch was from my Nikon F5s to a Fuji finepix Pro S3 digital camera in 2005. I was a Nikon nerd and Fuji was built from the Nikon F60 and F80 bodies, This allowed me to keep my F-mount Nikkor lenses while stepping into the digital realm.
***A few years later in 2008, I played with a certain lens from Canon. It was an 85mm f/1.2 L. The next day I traded in my Nikkor lenses and Fuji finepix and purchased the new Canon 5d markii and the 85mm 1.2L and 70-200 2.8L. Beautiful images for sure! A true workhorse of a system.
***2014 rolled around and Fuji released its XT-1 mirrorless system. I switched! I felt like I was getting stale and needed a change. Plus, I had checked out my friend’s X-T1 and it was like going home to Nikon. Again, I sold my Canon system and purchased the Fuji mirrorless system. This new energy I felt from the switch allowed me to start doing more personal work and started to move into more fine artwork.
***2014 rolls around and life is changing for me. So to deal with all the changes I was experiencing I needed to switch systems. I went out and upgraded to medium format. The Mamiya Leaf Credo 40 was the starting point. HUGE sensor and beautiful lenses! Slow camera system but it was needed at this time in my life. At that time I traded my Fuji gear for Sony. Why? It was the Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Planar T* Telephoto Prime Lens. Perfection!
***A few years later I unloaded my Mamiya medium format gear. I was just not using it as I thought I would. My personal plans changed as did my professional plans.
***Then in 2023, I was in a major creative funk. My ADHD told me to switch up my gear one last time. So out with the Sony gear and in with the “new to me” Fujifil X-T3 system and several lenses. I immediately felt at home!
As I said, gear is gear. But I tend to fall into the power of the lens. Nikkor had the best glass of its day. That could still be the case. The Canon 85mm 1.2L was an eye-opener. Just beautiful and buttery. From there I moved to mirrorless….but from Fuji to Sony because of the 135mm 1.8 Zeiss. Again, just beautiful imagery with that lens. However, because you needed an A to E mount adapter the speed of the lens suffered and it was not as useful for the speed of my wedding coverage. Finally, I landed back in the Fujifilm arena. This time it was not lens related, but comfort. The Sony system felt like I was shooting with my laptop. No real personality. For me, the Fujifilm X-T system is like hanging out with your best friend or your loved ones. The X-T bodies just fit perfectly for me. So, in my final swap of gear, it was about the camera and not just the lens.
So what was old is now again new!
Although Morgan and Brett wanted just a short history for their wedding website, Amy could have written pages on this interesting, warm couple. Joe reports that the wedding’s vibe suited the couple perfectly: elegance met joy in that downtown venue, where family and guests were embraced by the arms of their big love. Here’s another of our average joe and amy projects; we thank our subjects for their graciousness in allowing us to share their story.
Morgan and Brett had been dating for four years when Brett announced a weekend trip to Traverse City, Michigan, in November of 2018. He’d had the engagement ring for seven months by then, but the couple lived together and were practically married already, right? No need to rush things, he figured.
“That was not the case with Morgan,” Brett says, a calm grin spreading across his face. “She was spazzing out.”
“I was like, If this doesn’t happen this weekend, I’m going to lose my mind,” Morgan says, with just a touch of drama.
Morgan declared a state of emergency. Crying, she called her mom. She called Brett’s mom. Brett’s mom called Brett.
Dee knew her son had planned to pop the question on Saturday, so she gently suggested he move the plan up a night. Brett agreed; he’d scheduled a trip to the vineyards and made restaurant reservations, but Morgan wouldn’t concentrate for a second if he didn’t ask her to marry him upon arrival.
“I called the hotel,” Brett says. “‘Could you have chocolate, champagne, and strawberries waiting? She’s not going to make it. I think I’m going to have to propose in the room.’”
The hotel, fully embracing the urgency of the situation, came through, as did Brett.
Morgan’s response was somewhat in character: YES! THIS IS AWESOME! I’VE BEEN WAITING SO LONG FOR THIS! THIS IS SO GREAT! And Brett’s response was what you’d expect, too: a content happiness upon seeing her joy.
The night concluded in true Morgan and Brett fashion: they ditched a fancy restaurant and celebrated at the town bar with locals, who insisted on buying them drinks. Morgan and Brett are the couple who can get along with just about anybody, who attract others with charisma and vibrant storytelling (Morgan) and a chill, relaxed personality that sets people at ease (Brett). Their love has grown since the day Brett first laid eyes on Morgan, when her friend Victoria told him, “If you are staring at my friend, then ask for her phone number” (he needed a little prodding back then, too). When Morgan worries about how to talk to their children about society and race, Brett assures her that together, they can do it.
Because above all, through the years and differences, they trust each other. With this kind of love, future emergencies don’t stand a chance.