Even if it’s bulky, I love carrying my DSLR camera on my shoulder, or in hand, whole day when I’m traveling to a new city or exploring streets for documenting urban life in the city I live in. It’s only recently I came to know that people of my type are called photophile. This word is mostly used in informal language for humor or sarcasm for the people who click many photos and post on social media. But I feel photophiles have serious endeavors!
A photophile is a photography lover who carries camera wherever the person goes. The term is picked from biology, where it’s used for an organism that loves and functions best in the light. Alternatively, the photophilic and photophilous are also attributed to such people.
A photophile is not limited to those who love to take selfies and click photos through smartphones. I’d like to attribute this behavior to those who’re in serious business of photography and are exploring lights.
Journey of becoming a photophile
It starts with love for the light and shadow – the way light shapes an object, person, or environment amazes a budding photographer. Secondly, the photographer starts seeing how his subject interacts with other elements in the frame. Or, how a distinct subject can be isolated from the environment and viewed in isolation.
For example, you can make a portrait of a traveler in a new city and in front of a monument – I will exhibit how the person engages with the beauty of a new city. Or, you can isolate the traveler from the ambience and portray how a traveler dresses up and exhibits emotions.
My journey of becoming photophile started with appreciating:
1. Direction and quality of light
2. Composing a subject or layers of elements in a frame
As I kept diving-in, I figured-out, I can further improve the photographs with help of:
1. Better tools while shooting – a good quality DSLR camera and a lens for the type of subject I’m shooting
2. A good editing mindset – I don’t change the photo by editing. I keep it natural. 90% of my editing is limited to cropping and adjusting exposure to ensure the camera didn’t impact the way I see it naturally.
Path of becoming a photophile
A photographer doesn’t become accomplished in isolation. The artist thrives once people start appreciating his photos. It motivates the photophile to take the skills to next level.
The avenues which help a photophile evolve are:
1. sharing photos on social media to gain appreciation and feedback on photos you’ve made
2. participating in photography contest to test your métier and learn from fellow contestants
Challenges of a photophile
People get into this art form easily these days. Gone are the days when photography was pursued by those who could afford costly gears and afford a darkroom for editing. The tools are available on budget. With a camera in Smartphone, photography has become affordable to everyone.
A genuine photophile struggles with:
1. Allocate time for photography. Specifically, if this is not your primary source of living
2. Competition – the space is crowded because photography is affordable to everyone now
3. Desire to make it full-time profession
5. Cost of upgrading the skills
Motivation of a photophile
Anyone can take a picture… a person with a passion sees the picture before it’s taken.– Anonymous
With the above challenges in hand and so many aspects of photography to learn, how does a photographer keep himself motivated. There’s unique trend in photography, which is unlikely in any other artistic pursuits like writing, singing, painting etc, once the photography bug hits you, you’d never quit.
In my view: Once a photophile, always a photophile!
1. Keep sharing your photos without worrying whether you’re getting enough likes or not
2. Keep pushing for new skills and try skills with new subjects
3. Don’t bother about upgrading your camera or lens. The one which you have is never explored fully
4. Read about photography in blogs or through books. Reading will keep you close to new trends and what are fellow photographers doing
5. Share your thoughts through own blogs — this helps you structure the thoughts and prompts to explore new dimensions of making photos. Once I started writing about my own photography and shared with the community, I explored greater details to not leave any stone unturned.
Net-net, if you love stepping out with your camera and you’ve a passion to see things through a frame – you’re a photophile.
PS: Wherever I’ve used his or himself to refer a person in this post, pls consider it gender neutral pronoun for the sake of brevity and flow of the writing.