The Heart of Photography

I am, for the most part, a solid mixture of causal and intentional photography.

Sometimes, when the mood and moment strike, I let the images, in a zen-like fashion, come to me.

I feel them. I listen for them. I wait for them.

Other times, I shoot with the greatest possible deliberation and determination.

I plan them. I purpose them. I will them into existence.

Click. Click again.

More recently, I’ve been in a “casual” photography disposition and mode.

It must have something to do with the beginning of winter, new relationships, new ideas, new dreams and hopes, new perspectives?

And when I do find myself, in this rare, but pleasant, free-and-easy situation, I often shoot what my beating heart reflects.

In other words, if I feel joy, my pictures seem to look joyous. When I am happy, my pictures look buoyant.

If I am tender or feeling alone, my photos, evidence and manifest the same emotions.

“Great photography is about the depth of feeling, not the depth of field.” Peter Adams

I have also recently paid close attention to that, sometimes, and I haven’t figured out exactly why, rather than simply shoot what my heart reflects, I direct my heart as to what I want to see and feel, at the moment. I use my lens to change my heart.

For example, if I’m feeling particularly introspective or introverted, I might use photography, both its product and process, on any given day, with any given subject, to feel outward-looking and extroverted.

Regardless of what tact I choose, laid-back or high-powered, casual or intentional, it’s crystal clear to me, at every level, and with every exposure, that the heart of photography for me, is emotional.

My photography is deeply and wonderfully autobiographical.

And the more I can connect to my state and frame of mind, at the moment, whether through happenstance or circumstance, my images are, flat-out, better, deeper, smarter, more poetic, and lyrical.

Art always seems to grow out of the heart.

“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.” Edward Steichen

Take this connective and chemical emotion out of the craft of photography, and you are left with, documentation not interpretation, science not art, noise not melody, words not poetry.

For every single photo we, veteran or newbie, young or old, ever take, familiar or exotic, casual or intentional, it represents, not just our observations but perceptions, experiences, realities, fantasies of life, love, and laughter.

It’s a beautiful thing.

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” -Ansel Adams.

I spend a hell of a lot of time alone before, during, and after the photography capture experience.

This has always been my choice. It’s how I roll. I love the privacy and quietude of creation.

Although, more recently, I’ve been sharing this space with new friends.

All I can tell you, today, is that, the deeper we love, the more wholehearted we touch, the more discerning our conversations are, the more complete our transparency is, the more kind and selfless our encounters become, the more honest we are in our core… the more impactful and emotional our photography will be. Period.

“When people look at my pictures, I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” Robert Frank

For to know my pictures, is to know my heart.

The heart of photography is emotional.



Jack Hollingsworth