The Fire of Images: Why I Think You Should Take Photos

Tom Cottrell

This is the 3rd post of 5 in a series on photography.

  1. Why I Started To Take Photos
  2. Why I Continue To Take Photos
  3. Why I Think You Should Take Photos
  4. Some Practical Tips
  5. Photography Announcement

Setting my own personal reasons for embracing photography to one side, I would now like to explain why it is that I think you should be carrying your camera with you wherever you go.

Now this is possibly where a small, light, compact camera really comes into its own! I keep my camera ( a Fujifilm Finepix z100fd) in my bag or in my pocket ready to pull out and start taking pictures of whatever has caught my eye. As I explained in the first post of this series, I only started to do this back in August of last year, and in that time I have noticed a number of significant and extremely positive changes in my life. It really is such a simple adjustment to make, but just look at the benefits!

  • Increases Creativity – Taking photos and editing them is an act of creativity. Julia Cameron, in her book, The Artist’s Way, suggests that one way to jump start personal creativity is to begin treating yourself to ‘artist dates’, which she describes as, ‘a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist’. Carrying your camera with you and taking photos of whatever catches your eye, automatically turns any outing into an artist’s date. You give yourself permission to be creative: to be a person who creates.
  • Heightens Awareness – A curious thing happens when you’re on the lookout for photographic opportunities – you start to find them wherever you look! That patch of scrub-land next to the bus stop? You know, the one you don’t normally look twice at? Well, when you have your camera at the ready you begin to realise that it is not an unremarkable tangle of weeds and dead grasses. It is, in fact, a cornucopia of interestingness.
  • Develops Curiosity – Following on the tail of ‘heightening awareness’, an interest in photography can lead you to ask a lot of questions. What’s at the end of that path over there? What does this look like up close? Where will I end up if I choose to turn left instead of right? Curiosity is one of those qualities that we are born with and we steadily lose if we’re not careful to cultivate it. Let photography reawaken your questioning self.
  • Opens Connection – What I am doing when I take a photograph and share it, either on the blog, on Twitpic, on Flickr, or personally with family and friends, is I’m offering up a point of connection. By engaging with my photographs you’re seeing the world the way I see it, you’re participating in my vision. When you post a photograph you’re providing a window on your world.
  • Appreciates Specialness – It doesn’t matter how many swans I take a photograph of, every single one of them is special. It doesn’t matter how many flowers I photograph, every one is unique. Since I started taking photos, my appreciation for the individuality, for the specialness, of everything I encounter has been enhanced tenfold. It is my belief that it is only by appreciating the special in others, that we can connect to, and celebrate, our own specialness, our own lives less ordinary.

If you already carry your camera with you wherever you go, do you agree with these benefits? Have you discovered other benefits?

If you don’t carry your camera with you, but you intend to, what benefits do you hope to find? Has this post convinced you to give it a go?


May 21, 2008. Photography.


  1. Celticangel replied:

    Short answer: Yes.

    Longer answer: Carrying has allowed me to reframe all sorts of situations into opportunities for photography. It has also opened my eyes to spotting images I might like to photograph. In my case, this tends to include my cats doing something amusing and humourous signs. Heck, I’ve finally posted something to deviantART. I never thought I’d have anything good enough to do that with.

  2. Joanna Young replied:

    A powerful explanation and invitation Amy!

    I guess I carry my writing mind with me wherever I go – I tend to be looking out for ideas and sparks that will turn into blog posts or other writing outlets. It has a similar kind of effect.

    But I can see the pictures add something different, and perhaps will stretch and stimulate other aspects of my creative self too.

    I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me!


  3. Rosa Say replied:

    Amy, I do understand this, and like Joanna tend to immediately connect it to the ever-present “carrying” of my “writing mind” (great words for it Joanna!) I’m also very much an “out of sight, out of mind” person when it comes to my possessions, and so I like having things out where I am sure to optimize my use of them…have always preferred open shelves to drawers. As for what we physically carry with us, there certainly is a lot to be said for ease and portability, and when you are already as short and petite as I am, small and compact is the clear runaway winner!

  4. Leslie replied:

    Since I started blogging a few years ago I’m much more in tune with the need (and desire) to take good photos. My photography has improved immensely simply through practice–and looking for “bloggable” moments. I’m getting better about remembering my camera but I still find myself in situations where I wish I had the camera with me when it’s sitting at home!

  5. Robert Hruzek replied:

    I was going to say that if you put “writing” instead of “taking photographs”, your reasoning is exactly the same – but looks like I’m slow on the uptake here. These are the exact benefits I discovered when I started writing.

  6. amypalko replied:

    I see I’m preaching to the converted, Celtic Angel 😉
    Seriously, I’m so glad that you’ve tapped into the power of carrying a camera. It really does change the way you view the world, doesn’t it?

    Yes, I do think it’s similar to carrying your writer’s mind with you, Joanna, but I also think that it can add something new too. I’ll be interested to hear if you find that it alters your creative experience.

    I don’t do cupboards either, Rosa. I like to have everything to hand. Translated, that means that I’m a messy person, although I prefer to think of it as an expression of my creativity 😉

    Blogging has really kickstarted this passion for photography that I now have, Leslie. Yet another reason why I advocate personal blogging for all!

    I think all these kinds of acts of creativity have the potential to open our eyes and spark a reaction, Robert. As I said to Joanna, though, I think that while both writing and photography can have similar effects, I think there are some differences too. I’ll be interested to hear back from you if you decide to give it a go 🙂

  7. lindiop replied:

    I’ve started carrying my camera with me again in the last few days. I stopped partly because I don’t connect with the cityscape that surrounds me as easily as I did with the sea, woods and fields where I used to live. I’m thinking maybe I can use the camera to turn this way of seeing on it’s head, to find something to appreciate here in London instead of only seeing the ugly side of it.

  8. Chris Cree replied:

    This series is timely for me as I just got a camera for myself for the first time in years. Great advice here. I’m going to start carrying it with me too.

    Now if I could only find pants with more pockets…

  9. David replied:

    I think photographs help you see the sacredness in ordinary everyday things.

  10. Bo replied:

    A perfect summary, Amy. I have found all to be so true.

  11. Look and listen at Acting to Improve replied:

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  12. rlovison replied:


    I agree with Joanna… a powerful explanation and a wonderful invitation.

    For me, I love to hike and I always carry my camera when I do. I usually get in a peaceful state when I take a nature walk and I find that when I’m in this state, I am more able to “see” the subjects I wish to photograph. Going out with plans and expectations of what I would like to photograph never worked for me.

  13. Nadine T. replied:


    When I remember to take my camera (with mobile, keys, glasses, headsets, GPS etc, it’s hard to remember everything), I tend to take a lot of pictures to turn into backgrounds for my desktop, I even took a picture of the (tall) grass in my garden, but I take masses of flowers, dead leaves, Autumn berries on the bushes.

    On holidays I shoot at everything, but I prefer unusual scenes, like signs, reflections and skies are my favourites.

    I like this series of posts, great idea!

  14. amypalko replied:

    I just loved your latest post in response to this, LindaH. I do so hope that it helps you to see the beauty present in your immediate surroundings 🙂

    Either that, Chris, or you need to get yourself a manbag 😉
    I’d go for more pockets if I were you!

    I think you’ve got it in one, David 🙂

    I’m so glad you agree, Bo. I thought you might 😉

    Ah, Rlovision, the best laid plans of mice and men… I’m absolutely with you on this one – it is so much better to get into an open, inquisitive frame of mind and then photograph what you see, than to go with the weight of expectation.

    I love putting my photos on my desktop too, Nadine. There’s something very satisfying about it, isn’t there? Glad you’re enjoying the series 🙂

  15. Karen Swim replied:

    Amy, this series definitely has ignited the fire in my belly to get a camera and start taking photos. One of the things that I have so often wanted to do is to share my world with others. This of course happens with writing too but there have many times that I have seen something spectacular, even if only in its simplicity, and wanted to share it. I love this series and will look to you on tips on how to keep my thumb out of the photo. 🙂

  16. How To Get Unstuck | How to be an Original replied:

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  18. organicsyes replied:

    For years I wished I had had a camera with me at all times…seeing color, things in nature…whatever have stayed in my mind, but I wish I had those images on film.

    With the new digital camera my family recieved this past winter, I have found pure joy:) I take it out on walks and just explore. I really do see things in a new way…and I will take it along even more in the days to come.

    Thanks for your post! (Found you through Bo;)

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