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8 reasons why photography is important

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by David Em
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Photography captures memories and leads you to be present as you explore the world around you. Here are 8 reasons why photography is important.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Photographer in a field.

What’s the purpose of photography?

Essentially, the purpose of photography is to communicate and document moments in time.

Related: Understanding color in photography

When you take a photograph and share it with others, you’re showing a moment that was frozen through a picture. This moment can tell someone many things, from the environment to what people are doing.

For example, if you’re a journalistic photographer working in the city, the photos you take will be recorded for years to come. When people 50 years from now look at the photos, they’ll be able to see what life was like.

If you’re a wedding photographer, the couple you’re shooting relies on you to document a special day in their lives. The goal is to document moments of fun, happiness, and love. These photos will be cherished for the rest of their lives.

Photographer with text overlay.

8 reasons why photography is important

Photography is a vision and art. Regardless of your skill level, capturing images is important for history and people’s lives. Here are 8 reasons why photography is important.

1. Photos represent what’s important

Person holding printed photos.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

In our phone galleries and homes, we have images that are important to us.

The reason why photography is important is that it freezes memories. It captures a moment in time that you’ll be able to remember and cherish years from now.

If you look at the images that people save, usually it’s photos of their family, friends, pets, places, and items they love. You take pictures of things that are significant to you. All of the images you capture add up to tell your story.

2. History through images

There’s power in a picture because they help us understand and teach history. People connect with images and it shows how life was before the present time.

How things used to look, what people wore, where they stayed, animals and many things about the world are passed on generationally through images.

Images are great for learning about history because people find that it’s easier to learn about the past through images than text (Source: Historians.org).

3. Photos are stories

Couple holding hands in their wedding attire.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

There’s a story behind every image. By looking at a picture, you can conclude many things about it:

  • What do they like?
  • Where are they?
  • How old are they?
  • How are they feeling?

If you’re looking at photos you’ve taken of your family, you’ll be reminded of that specific moment and behind that image is a story.

What happened that morning? Where did you go? Why did you take that picture?

4. Photos evoke emotions

Have you looked at a picture from the past and instantly felt the same emotions as you did in the picture? That’s the power of a photo.

The reason you feel emotions isn’t because of how aesthetically pleasing an image is but the emotions that are expressed in the photo.

5. Self-expression

Woman smiling with flowers on her head.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

One of the best reasons that photography is important is because it allows you to express yourself. It’s a great creative outlet where you can express how you feel, what you believe, think and love.

The cool thing is that you can do whatever you want. Regardless of the “rules” and techniques, photography has no boundaries. You can express yourself without any restrictions.

6. Photography inspires

Photography can inspire you to travel, enjoy life, and celebrate the moments. It can help you become more aware of the little things in life.

Taking pictures inspires you to have the desire to experience more and take risks.

7. Builds connections

3 photographers on a railroad track.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Through photography, you can meet a lot of people and build relationships you wouldn’t have had previously.

With friends and family who don’t see you often, it helps them feel close when they see your images. It’s a great way to stay in touch with those who live far away.

8. Photography doesn’t judge

Regardless of your age, gender or race, you can take pictures and capture memories. It doesn’t require an expensive camera, you can use any camera, even the one on your phone. You can start anytime and anywhere.

Evolution of photography

Over the years, photography has changed and became more accessible. It has become less expensive, faster, and easier to capture and distribute photos.

It has also given us the ability to see things around the world that we haven’t seen with our own eyes. It’s made a big impact on our world and how photos are created has changed.

The beginning

Photography was invented early in the 19th century. It shocked the world and was embraced quickly (Source: National Gallery of Art).

When it was invented, people tried to understand what its purpose should be and how photographs should look. This led to experimentation with different types of photos, textures, tones, and details.

Small cameras

Original Kodak handheld camera.
The Original Kodak Camera. Photo courtesy of National Museum of American History

After a lot of experimentation and improvements in technology, Kodak was invented. The Kodak was a small, handheld camera that made photography more accessible.

Instead of being something only the upper-class can have, it was now made available to the middle-class (Source: National Gallery of Art).

Modern photojournalism

First 35mm Leica camera.
The Leica 1 Model A. Photo courtesy of National Museum of American History.

In 1925, modern photojournalism was born in Germany (Source: NDSU). It was when the first 35mm camera was invented, the Leica.

At that time, the people of Germany were being suppressed and persecuted, which led to many fleeing to America. Most of the photos being taken were of World War II for magazines and newspapers.

The 35mm was small and could take photos quickly. However, not all photographers used 35mm cameras. Some used the 120-format camera, which was usually a Rolleiflex.

Later, the 35mm film camera became more versatile as it was improved. It had the ability to use a telephoto, zoom, and wide-angle lens.

The Polaroid

In the mid-1900s, the Polaroid was invented by Edwin H. Land (Source: Nithin Kalorth, Ph.D.). What made the Polaroid special was its ability to take a photo and print it within a minute.

Digital cameras

First digital camera by Kodak.
The First Digital Camera. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

In 1975, the first digital camera was created by Eastman Kodak (Source: NASA). Soon after, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and other manufacturers began working on digital cameras too.

At the end of the 20th century, newspapers and magazines shifted to digital (Source: HBS). Around this time, manufacturers began working on mirrorless cameras, which has become popular among many photographers.

Smartphones

Aside from digital and mirrorless cameras, smartphones have become popular for photos. With advances in technology, phone cameras have been able to capture incredible images and since they’re built into phones, many people don’t see the need to carry a separate camera.

Conclusion

Photography is a great way to tell stories, capture memories, and express yourself. It can be a beautiful piece of art or a precious moment frozen in time and that’s why photography is important.

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Featured photo by Unsplash.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

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