The Being And The Having – Which is Most Important In Photography?

Some of the recent conversations here on 35hunter have led me to think further about valuing the experience of photography versus the value of the final image.

Because for me photography has nearly always been wrapped up in a wider activity – walking and exploring in nature (which brings its own benefits, whether you’re making photographs whilst you do it or not) – I’ve valued this overall experience more highly than the images I have been able to create.

This is not to say I don’t enjoy seeing a photograph that I’m proud of, and feel has effectively captured the sight and the feeling I wanted it to.

I do, and then I also enjoy sharing it.


If I had the experience without the photographs though (for example if I shot 36 images with a film camera then realised the film hadn’t wound on a single frame, and I hadn’t captured as single photograph – which has happened), it wouldn’t lessen the overall experience very much.

I would have still seen what I saw, and felt what I felt.

But if I had just the photographs, without the experience (perhaps by photographing objects in an artificial indoor studio environment?) it would greatly diminish the overall value of the experience.

In fact I likely wouldn’t bother making the pictures in the first place.

I guess this is another way of asking which is most important in photography – the being or the having?

Being fully in the moment and enjoying the experience?

Or having images to show at the end of it?

What are your thoughts? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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4 thoughts on “The Being And The Having – Which is Most Important In Photography?”

  1. They are independently important to me.
    On the one hand, I really enjoy working with precision machinery. I would continue taking pictures with my old Leicas for that reason alone even if my pictures didn’t particularly interest me.
    On the other hand, the family photographic archive that I support by making prints of pictures taken as long ago as 100 years and taking and printing pictures of the current generations is very important to me. I would continue working on it even if the cameras held no interest for me.

    1. Yes, now you mention it, I think I feel the same. For my own intentional photography, I love to be using a camera that’s enjoyable and rewarding. This outweighs the final image.

      But for family photos I just want the moment captured at a good enough quality it can be viewed and printed for years to come. The device that captures the photo is irrelevant.

  2. There are things I never would have seen, experiences I never would have had, had the camera not been in my hands and had I not been out looking for things to photograph. So for me these two things are hard to untangle.

    1. This is a good point Jim. I agree that when I have a camera with me, my eyes seek out more, and I tend to find more beauty in the details that I may otherwise have just strolled past.

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