Why I Shoot And What

Here’s the thing. I find that most people who develop an interest in photography almost immediately gravitate to asking themselves what they should photograph, myself included. It’s not until much later – if we don’t loose interest altogether – that we begin to ask why we should, or why we do photograph certain things.

The title to this post may seem backwards, but it’s not (did you re-read it?). I think the why of photography is more important than the what. Why are you interested in photography? What types of photography illuminate the light in your mind? What kind of image do you find yourself coming back to? You need to ask yourself why.

My why – and this took me years to figure out – I enjoy making photos of things that are happening in front of me in a creative way that elicits an emotional response. For whatever reason, I derive meaning from this. And the emotional response doesn’t mean a response from others, it’s my response. Maybe that’s selfish, or maybe it’s something else. I don’t know.

I’m enjoying photography the most when I’m shooting things that are real, chaotic and unfolding as apposed to things that are setup, contrived or carefully arranged. This does not somehow make my proclivity special, or superior, it’s just my taste. It’s purely subjective. 🤷🏼‍♂️

I do appreciate images that are carefully planned, setup and executed, like the work of Gregory Crewdson, which is mind blowing. Or, Benjamin Von Wong, or Blair Bunting (a fellow AZ resident). The level of thought, planning and creativity that go into images that are setup this way is beyond my capability or capacity.

I find myself drawn to the works of photographers like Robert Frank, Dorothea Lange, Sebastião Salgado, Martin Parr, Vivian Maier, and Melchior DiGiacomo to name a few. These people inspire me.


The primary subject of my photographs today is my kids. Currently, this is the what for me. I shoot candid images of my kids. The other reason why I do this is simple. Access. 🔑

I would love to take on some grand documentary project in a foreign country, or shoot the streets of major US cities, but, I’m a husband, a dad and I have a job and stuff. So, I shoot what I have access to right now.

Here’s a small, random sample of what I’ve shot over the past few months to get an idea of what I mean. This is a visual medium, right?

Follow along in the captions. 👇

If anything, my kids are adventurous. The dog is too.
Video call while on the tree swing during COVID lockdown.
They rigged up hammocks on a slack line.
Light, shadow, and screaming.
My niece in baby prison.
The brownies must cool off.
Bungee trampoline.
My son in his element.
Chicken suit! It was Halloween.
Occasionally, they chill and just watch TV.
Sometimes they hang upside-down and read.
Pure chaos.
Cousins jumping.
Hair, fabulous hair.

I shoot tens of thousands of images per year of my kids. The fact that they’re so adventurous makes it even more interesting. Yes, I’m documenting their lives, and that by itself has great value, but in the process I’m creating something that I find meaningful as well.

They’re so accustomed to the camera, they don’t even see it anymore. It’s just a part of everyday existence.

Once they’re grown and I move on to a different stage in life, I imagine I’ll shoot other things (landscapes maybe), but for now, my body of work will mostly be candid images of my kids that happen around the house. I’m perfectly happy with that.

By donniefitz2

Family guy, software nerd, photographer and a gear-head.

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