I recently showed my son a book of images and stories by the late Galen Rowell. My son is only 4(well almost4) so he didn't truly understand what he was looking at but to my delight he did seem fairly interested. However, being almost 4 years old means he didn't put the book away when he was done with it and it turns out that was actually a very good thing. I saw it laying on the floor and decided I needed to take another look through it myself. And while going through the pages and looking at Galen's beautiful images and reading stories about him I came across something he said, "My interest in photography did not begin with books or mentors, or with any burning desire to see the world through a camera. It evolved from an intense devotion to mountains and wilderness that eventually shaped all the parts of my life and brought them together. Photography was never simply a hobby or profession for me. Once I began taking pictures, it became an integral part of my life."
It was the last part of that quote that got to me, "Photography was never simply a hobby or profession for me. Once I began taking pictures, it became an integral part of my life." You can see in his images that the word hobby never would have been an accurate description. But maybe more important than that is when he says "it became an integral part of my life". If photography is that important to you than it's not a hobby.
I feel if you want to move your photography forward then it's important to stop calling it a hobby. Call it what it is - whatever it is for you. For me it's a lot of things but most importantly it's love and therapy. I love the opportunity photography gives me to get out into nature and appreciate what we have. I love that it allows me to create something that is mine. I love that it gives me something to share. But maybe most importantly photography is my therapy. If I'm having a bad day, a bad week or a bad month reaching for the camera and creating images is always therapeutic. It gives me an escape and lets me clear my head. When I'm creating images all my troubles, as big or as small as they might be, just seem to roll away.
Hobbies are something we do to pass the time. I don't take photographs just to pass the time, do you? Calling photography a "hobby" just seems insulting for something so important to me and I'm sure if taking photographs is important to you, then you feel the same way. Call it a passion. Call it an escape. Call it love. Call it therapy. Call it reconnecting. Call it a dream. Call it what it truly is to you - but don't belittle what it means to you. It means a lot to me and if you tell me it's a hobby you'll have to excuse me when I correct you.
To see more of Galen Rowell's photography or to order one of his books(which you should do) visit www.MountainLight.com
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