Why I Photograph

2 Comments 10 January 2010

Doug Ellis at Transformational Leadership Council

Photography means “writing with light” and I’ve become a incorrigible light monger, always brailing its warp and woof, checking its reflection, slant, color cast on the back of my hand

Writing with light  you can tell a story with none of the extra interpretive baggage of words. And like a book, an image can be straight up straight and in your face (ala Terry Richardson), or layered with depth, meaning, nuance and mystery (ala Sally Mann).

I love that you can use color or remove it to let light and shadow make a point. I love combining colors and shapes and forms to create a new language of meaning.

I love the happy accidents, the capacity to be surprised by the magic and mystery of particles and waves and things half-noticed that become revealed.

I love the gadgets and gear and always try to get the best I can afford so that I can grow into it and not use a technical constraint as an excuse.

I love how ten photographers can photograph the exact same thing and come away with completely different pictures. It would be interesting if Dr. Masaru Emoto, with his water crystal experiments, would put photos of the same subject taken by different photographers on jars of water to see if the crystalline structure of those jars would be different.

I’m amazed at how often photography has put me at my edge—the edge of what I thought was possible for myself artistically, my edge of attention and concentration, the edge of my heart’s capacity to witness beauty and sometimes ugliness.

That aspect of photography, of it being a mirror of my consciousness, what I love and pay attention to, is still miraculous to me. I see now places in the past where I flinched from an intimate moment or was too hesitant to get low or close.

Even after hundreds of thousands of (sometimes downright bad) exposures, I still feel like an advanced beginner. I’m amazed at how fast one’s eye or attention can evolve and transform over time.

I guess the reason I photograph is to both remember and forget myself at the same time.

“Like a great starving beast

My body is quivering


On the scent




For more on my photographic vision and philosophy, see One Photographer’s Prayer on my photography website Doug Ellis Photography.

Feel free to post your favorite photographers and motivations for shooting below.

Photographic Heroes

Some of my photographic heroes/icons (not in actual order of preference).

Happiness is a full Compact Flash card.

Happy shooting.

Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. andrea says:

    Hi Doug,

    i just discovered your homepage (coming from

    and i love your photography and the way you look at it.

    photography was always my passion ad i am going to focus more intensly on it- hope to reach a level that i can do some exhibitions or sell some of the pictures, i love- or even do a book with inspiring proverbs.

    all i need to do now is to improve my skills

    and my question is: do you offer photography courses or could you recommend somebody?

    right now i am living in the caribbean and have beautiful nature in front of my lense.

    thanks for your answer



  2. admin says:

    Hi Andrea, I would recommend some workshops at the Santa Fe Workshops, Maine Workshops, or Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Dive deep for a week or two, and take a fine art printing with Mac Holbert and Greg Gorman if you can swing it. They are both great. If you like shooting landscapes, also check out Rocky Mountain School of Photography..they are in Montana and have lots of fantastic instructors and places to shoot. Most of all keep shooting and loving it! See you in Tahiti Andrea.

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