While attempting to find a purpose for my photography, I began looking for patterns in the things that I took photos of. I asked myself, "why did I want to capture this?" After several weeks of doing this, the only all-encompassing thing I found was beauty.
When I see something that I moves me--be it an interesting bug on the ground or the way the sun reflects off the bottom of low-hanging clouds during a sunset--it's always beauty that triggers something within me to take action.
But if it's beauty that turns on the photographer in me, why is there a photographer in me in the first place? Why take a photo of something that I find beautiful? Why not just enjoy it for myself?
I think the answer to that is sharing.
I have an innate desire to share things that move me, be it an interesting idea, a thought, or a beautiful flower. When it comes to thoughts and ideas, writing is my capture tool of choice. When it comes to visual experiences, a camera is usually my capture tool of choice.
But why should I have separate tools for capture? Why not just use writing to capture all experiences and describe in vivid detail what I have witnessed?
I think it's because I'm always seeking to use the best tool for the job.
Sometimes writing is the best tool and sometimes it's a camera. When I hear a dozen birds chirping in a tree and I want to capture that, I don't start writing down in a notebook or hauling out an expensive video camera. I use the mic on my iPhone to make an audio recording and share it via SoundCloud 1.
The best tool to share the thoughts that I'm sharing here right now would not be a camera or an audio recorder, so that's not what I use. (The exception would be an audio recording of this text for readers with a hearing impairment.)
I wonder why I do this, why I'm always seeking to use the best tool for job.
Emerson wasn't able to take out his iPhone and capture things that caught his attention. Some may argue this was good and that modern technology ruining us, that things were better off back then. I disagree. Technology may certainly be changing what once was, but what's wrong with that?
Perhaps the reason I'm always seeking the best tool for the job is that I embrace the fact that technology changes what it means to interact with reality, that what's always been the best tool for the job might not be the best tool today.
We need to experiment, adapt, and evolve like never before. We need to do these things not so that we can keep up, but rather so that we can slow down, so that we can embrace now instead of holding onto the past.
We're living in a time of extreme technological evolution. 'Now' is constantly changing. If we want to remain present we need to be constantly changing. We need to be dynamic.
As you go throughout your day, ask yourself: "Is this the best tool for the job?"