It’s been a persistent journey over the last 10 years, one of growth personally. If I could explain the destination I would, but there seems to be no clear destination. I may not have even reached a road that goes anywhere yet. To many this may sound somewhat silly or down right ridiculous. Why would anyone take a journey of some 10 years and not even know where they are going? How do you even know if you get there?

The answer I believe lies in the “getting there” part. Consistent or inconsistent progress for that matter towards a destination is measurable. You move closer to your destination, make no progress, or move further away. Seems straight forward when the destination is a known point. What if you are not sure of your destination? How do you gauge progress? Progress typically takes place within the confines of set markers, giving one the ability to then state emphatically, I am closer than I was.

I believe progress in most things is important. As long as the emphasis is placed on the progress and not the destination. An observation that comes to mind is that of contests where the destination is an award, recognition or a combination of both. I have nothing against awards or even contests in general, but they are not something I have any desire to acclaim to or participate in. I find it mostly a confinement with energy, creativity, time, and concentration put in the wrong place.

I do not recall ever participating in a single contest. There was a time where it seemed like it would be an exciting thing to do. Others would say, “you would get recognition if you won.” Recognition for what exactly? That I can take a technically good picture of a subject that the judges deemed worthy of an award? I don’t believe I will be buried with any awards. But I would like to leave this physical Earth with memories of places and moments that were personally rewarding. Isn’t that the ultimate reward?

Today there seems to be much emphasis put into making a photograph that others will ooo and ahh over. I have never directly had this in mind to begin with but as time goes on I find I do have other things in mind. The drawing of attention by a photograph seems very common place these days. Almost any sunset on any given day will garner such reactions as long as it has sun rays streaming over the landscape. These technical feats are as repeatable as sunsets themselves. I must admit, I have made my share and yes they have elicited a few ooo’s and ahh’s. Then life goes on. What am I left with at that point? What I choose to be left with are the memories of the journey and not the reactions of others.

Photography once taken as a personal journey becomes much more than a specific moment and has very little to do with the physical act of creating images. One of the reasons I am not a big fan of the plethora of “how to” information that now seems to consume 99% of photography blogs and photographers as a whole. Anyone with common sense can and will figure out how to take technically good pictures with consistent practice and a small amount of “how to” information from others added along the way. The questions I have always attempted to seek out were more along the lines of why and not how. When approached from this somewhat uncommon view point photography becomes more than the creation of an image. It becomes part of who you are and why you choose the path you have chosen. A path of personal growth, insight, and understanding of what you consider a life of meaning. This can be done without a single image captured by a camera. When one chooses to take the time to create an image in addition to experiencing the journey you have then marked your path with a marker that can help you to understand the direction you have chosen and move you one step closer to your ultimate destination.


Late afternoon light over Perry Lake, Kansas ©Brad Mangas

Delight Of Light