I Shoot Because I Want To

Have you asked yourself why you click the shutter button, frame after frame? Why photography?

If you are shooting professionally, then photography is your bread and butter, of course this question would have been redundant. For the rest of us, we all shoot for all sorts of different reasons, some more personal than others. Some shoot to prove something to others, some shoot simply to join or fit into the crowd, some buy a camera because a camera is a cool technological gadget/gear, while some shoot to record memories. While many strive to improve and go all they can to produce that National Geographic level of photographs, they have lost sight of the important element that shaped up photography in the first place: shooting just for the fun of it.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko lenses.

Jason Lioh, who was with me for shutter therapy this morning at Chow Kit. I wanted to convert this image to B&W, but realize the importance of the red lining on his lens. Hence the color remained. Heh !

Fisheye panning. Who says you can't pan with a fisheye lens?

I love how his shirt matches the wall, and his pants match the ground.

Mis-match of people and flag.

Crossing over.

Drying laundry. Cross Process Art Filter applied.

Street tailor.

Everyone sees photography differently. Some see it as a gear changing game, where they would change camera bodies and upgrade lenses more often than they change their underwear. Some see photography as art, or so they tirelessly convince others and their own selves so. They proclaim their philosophies and vision though their photography work, and would swallow you alive if you fail to see the art in their work. Some see it as a way to showcase their supremacy: I have bigger camera, longer lenses, and more expensive setup than you do, hence I am better, and above you. Some see it as a way to boost their ego: hey my photograph won that competition in that magazine last year. Or hey, my photograph won the international award (after hundreds of failed submissions). Many tried to prove something through unimaginable amount of money spent on gear and endless hours spent on workshops and photography talks. Everyone wants to be someone in this huge wide world of photography. Everyone wants to show that, look, I can shoot too, and I am damned good with my camera. Most photographers shoot for pride and recognition, it is a hard truth to admit. But how many really shoot, because they want to, and simply do so because they truly love shooting?

I would be lying if I said I shoot purely without the attachment on getting the "good feeling" when someone gives a kind remark on my photographs. After all, what is the point of loving one photograph, if twenty other prominent photographers think otherwise? The fine line between self pleasure is very thin, separating from yearning for acceptance and acknowledgment from the audience.

It comes with a cat.

Nescafe Tarik

Child labor.

Cracked reflection

Peeling it off.

Mother and child

Jason and his dying phone.

So why do I pick up the camera and wander the streets for shutter therapy sessions, again and again? I do not quite know the answer myself. However, I do know that, the feeling I have each time after shutter therapy sessions, was so good, it stayed with me for a long, long time. The feeling was a mix of a sense of accomplishing something important, being able to speak myself out freely, and making a difference. I know that feeling does not really make sense, but it felt so good, I want to do it again and again.

I shoot, because shooting makes me feel darn happy. I shoot, because I want to, and I love doing it. I may not produce the "award-winning" or National Geographic worthy photographs, but hey, to me, all my photographs are winners, because they are mine, I shot them myself, and I shot them my way. My photographs speak of me, for me, and my own vision.

Do share, what are your reasons to pick up the camera? What drives you to shoot?


  1. Well I like to take photos to document my life, to make works of art, to print my photos and hang on the wall, to preserve memories. Now you can catch the light very good and cheap, not as in my youth when film photography was too expensive for me. Pity there was no photography in the time of Ceasar and Cleopatra ..

  2. Great post, and something that needs to be said and said again!

    My reason for shooting is both the same and slightly different: I am having enormous fun taking pictures, especially when I manage a good one. That warm, fuzzy feeling is the first reason. The second reason is sharing the joy, not only the joy of photography but the joy of living, of seeing fascinating things worth shooting and showing to others! Shared joy is double joy, and what could be better than me having fun taking pictures and on top of that others having fun looking at those picture?

    No need to compete for attention, prizes or the perfect shot. After all, joy and fun is not limited and I only gain by sharing :)

  3. Hello Frank,
    Thanks for reminding that photography is an important tool for life documentation !! Life itself is so precious and full of beautiful moments, and photography is one of the most effective way to preserve those moments.

    hello Christoph
    Thanks for agreeing !!
    Also, I agree with you wholeheartedly on the sharing part of photography. Indeed, photographs are meant to be shared, it is the connection established between the photograph and the viewer that makes it worthwhile.
    We only gain by sharing, how true indeed !

  4. Eric V from Edmonton Alberta Canada9/12/2011 12:32:00 AM

    Photographs are frozen pieces of memory where time stood still. You want to preserve these memories so that you and others can re-live that special moment.

    Photography to me is a wonderful hobby that started years ago as a kit lens from Olympus. An E-510 which later became an E30 and now grew to become the E5. Am still mastering this skill. Reading, practicing, learning. Admiring the talents of others. Am glad this is my hobby and not my bread and butter otherwise every photograph, every execution counts. There's little room for error and you don't feel under pressure. It becomes a chore and joy of photography is gone.

    Yes I love taking photos. Building my arsenal in the form of lenses so I can take landscapes, portraits, and macros with ease. It's always good to come prepared, but of course a good photographer can always compose and create a perfect photograph whatever camera or lens he has. I'm still far from being great but my love photography is always here to stay.

    Great job to another wonderful and enlightening series Robin. Thanks again for your help! Keep logging and keep shooting my friend!

  5. Robin, You and Eric and really, the others got it right. We do it because we love it. I like to say we are making memories when we travel or have the kids with us and more. Taking photographs saves the moment and especially with digital lets you share those memories.

    I have 30,000 photographs in my digital library. Too many memories to keep up with on a regular basis, but what fun to go back, share and remember. And yes, you take them because doing it makes you happy. I am convinced that you have to love it to produce those really good shots that are indeed photographs, not pictures or snapshots.

  6. i like sharing my vision and i love when people share the feeling i put into my photography.

    i was told my photography is "thoughtful".

    i shoot because it feels "natural", also my name on the web.

    stunning images, robin.

  7. hello eric v,
    thanks so much for the complIments, sometimes I have too many things going on in my mind I just wanted to get them out, hence I blogged about them.

    you have nailed down your point about photography as a hobby perfectly. in comparison to ahooting profesionally, photograpny as a hobby is shooting for yourself only, creating your own vision and nof pleasing others. therefore you have to love to shoot as a hobby, because thats the motivation.
    I get a lot of people asking me why I shoot again and again and why I do not get tired of shooting. I answered them as what I blogged in this entry, I love shooting and I want to do it.

    hello ralph,
    thanks for the kind words!
    photography are pieces of memories we captured and we can share and relive those memories again. do not worry about taking too many photos, storage is so cheap these days!
    mplIments, sometimes I have too many things going

  8. hello valerie,
    thanks for the kind comments!
    may I add that photography is not only thoughtful, but it is also emotional, and you have said in your first sentence that we impart the feeling in the photos to share with others.otography is not only thoughtful, but it is also emotional, and you have said in your first sentence that we impart the feeling in the photos to share with others.

  9. Apologies in advance for what I'm sure will be quite lengthy...
    First, only recently discovered your blog, I find it extremely interesting and inspiring.
    In early 2010, after years of unsuccessfully messing with a few cheap digital cameras, I started taking photos using my iPhone 3G and uploading them via the phone to blipfoto (a "project 365" website) and in October 2010, my girlfriend bought me a Canon SX30is as a surprise present. (We'd never even discussed how much I was becoming intereted in photography, that's how much of a surprise it was!)
    I still own the SX30is, as well as a Canon S90 and a refurbished EPL1 with two lenses.
    As far as my "project 365" experiment is going, I've currently taken more than 400 photos, and at present I'm close to 200 on unbroken consecutive days.

    Why do I take photos?

    I'm not a professional photographer, in fact I'm relatively new to getting seriously into photography.
    I rarely show them to friends or family; I haven't printed any off and mounted them on my wall; I sometimes get some comments on my blipfoto account, or on flickr; other times I hardly get any views or comments. The more photos I take, the less important the views and comments of others becomes. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate it if someone leaves a comment that they like what I've done, but that isn't the reason I take photos.

    I take them because it's something that I enjoy doing. I honestly take great pleasure from it. It doesn't really amount to much more than that. Some days I might only take one photo, just the photo I upload to my blipfoto account, other days I take a lot. One or many, it doesn't matter. I just take a camera with me, everywhere I go. Beauty is all around.

  10. hello ben,
    No apologies needed at all !! In fact, after all the trouble reading my lengthy writings on my entries, anyone deserves to say a thing or two. I encourage open discussion, only through sharing we can learn from each other and grow.
    I like the way you look at photography, you do it to simply "capture the beauty" surrounding you. That is a way to train our eyes to open up and be aware of things around us, and start to appreciate them more. A huge part of photography is about seeing, and more importantly, seeing the beauty in the subject contents.
    I also believe in quality over quantity. One photograph that you are satisfied with, is worth taking than making hundreds of photograph which you do not personally like. Photography is about you and what you want to shoot. That should be the way it is.
    We do not have to be professional to enjoy photography. It is an open hobby, the best part is, with the digital world now, with any camera anyone can enjoy shutter therapy !!