Posted by: kerryl29 | March 28, 2022

A Step Up from Fun

Recently I saw an ad for a new(ish) camera–the make and model are irrelevant–that described the product in question as making photography “fun.” The description made me think–unfortunately for the purveyors of the advertisement–about photography and my feelings about it. (The ad folks surely wanted me to think about photography and the camera used in the ad. Oh well.) And what I concluded was that I wouldn’t describe my relationship with photography as one having to do with fun.

Driftwood Epic, Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Perhaps I’m descending into semantics, but to me, fun means a kind of self-indulged enjoyment, at least tinged, if not fully represented, by amusement. I find baseball, and other sports, fun. When I was a kid, I thought video games were fun. At one time, many years ago, I found the game of darts fun. And there have been other fun pastimes I’ve engaged in over the years.

Fog & Sun, Bear Rocks Preserve, Dolly Sods Wilderness, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

I wouldn’t use the word “fun” as a primary descriptor of how I feel about photography. That feeling is something qualitatively different. Photography, for me, is intellectually and artistically challenging, it’s satisfying, it’s fulfilling. And much of–again, for me–the broader photographic experience involves things that are emphatically not fun, be that unpleasant travel, fatigue, extreme physical exertion, sleep deprivation, lack of sustenance, (hopefully) mild dehydration, direct exposure to miserable weather and, the coup de grace, outlandish outlays of funds. Some may say that photography needn’t imply any of the above negatives, and while that is true, my photography experiences inevitably seem to entail all of them.

Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona

The things that I find fun–sports, say–I would miss if they were removed from my world, but in the end, much as I enjoy these things, I daresay I would find something else that would replace them. That has, in fact, happened already. Video games were fun at one time; I haven’t played so much as a single video game in decades. I can’t say that I miss them.

Dogwood and Redbud, Oconaluftee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Photography is an entirely different kettle of fish. It serves as a primary creative outlet for me–writing is the only other thing that comes close in that regard–and I can’t imagine giving it up. I became progressively more interested in, and fascinated with, photography once I truly got serious about it roughly 25 years ago. Even during the 20 or so years that I fiddled around with photography prior to becoming serious about it, I don’t ever remember thinking of it primarily as “fun.” (This raises the question of whether it’s even possible to be “serious” about something that you find “fun,” but we’ll leave that topic for another day.)

LaSalle Canyon Black & White, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

It’s hard to describe, but I think we all feel a kind of compulsion to express ourselves in some form or fashion. I suppose I view photography as something that provides me the means to express myself. As a result, in a sense, I suppose photography is a critical tool for me to, at some level, say who I am and therefore fills a critical human need.

I’d be very interested to hear how others view photography and how they relate to it. Do you find it “fun”? Does anyone out there view it the way I do? Is there something else that, for you, mimics the way I feel about photography? If you have any thoughts on any of the above, please feel free to expound in the comments.


  1. I agree. Photography is my artistic outlet.

  2. I think the term “fun” can have fairly broad meaning. And certainly any activity normally classified as “fun”
    within one’s own personal interests can have associated unpleasant aspects as well. You mention sports, so I’ll use injuries, soreness, defeats, etc as the related not fun aspects.

    Similarly photography can involve exploration, connecting with wildlife, or even creative play just to try new things – all of which can be … fun.

  3. Nice pictures, I find photography to be a challenge, and hard work as opposed to just fun. I like many other photographers find some seriousness in my hobby of photography. I really like your post of the fog and sun at Bear Rock Perserve.

  4. Hi Kerry, Your images are masterfully shot. Enjoyed every one. I use fun about photography in a broad sense but it is a different kind of fun than say, attending a concert. Fun is creating a satisfying image, spending time productively and simply enjoying the activity. I am amazed how personally tiring a photo session can be- I’m all in, expending a lot of energy and brain power! Thanks for posing the question. 🙂📷

  5. Interesting topic…photography itself may not always come under the heading of “fun,” but the side benefits, particularly being with friends and/or being in interesting places, can be described as fun. For those of us who don’t pursue photography professionally, if there were no fun involved, why do it? Maybe I’m using “enjoyment” as a synonym for fun. Creativity, the challenge of learning new skills, and other activities associated with photography are important to me. Are they fun? Not always, but I’m still out there with the camera. And to add to your list of activities that aren’t fun, how about the time spent in front of the computer processing images?

  6. I find the planning, preparation, and creating of the images I love to be serious enough that they don’t really fit into a category of “fun” or the passion into the category of a “pastime.” However, it sure is fun to look back on the results of those necessary stages when I find myself serenely browsing back through the archives, re-awakening memories of favorite past-times.

  7. Kerry, I equate “fun” with things that are frivolous and without purpose; things that are intended for momentary enjoyment but without lasting meaning. Photography, for me, has purpose and meaning. It is deeply fulfilling because it exercises different parts of my brain while allowing me to show the world around me — as I see it — to others. In a world with so much pain and tribulation, showing the beauty of nature is a way to soothe and refresh. At the same time, planning photo trips fulfills my Type-A side, allowing me to enjoy each trip three times: once when I (in excruciating detail) research and plan each day’s itinerary; again when I take the trip and immerse myself in the natural beauty of the location (and the frustrations and serendipity delivered by Mother Nature); and yet a third time when I process and caption the images. So, while I greatly enjoy photography, it’s not what I would call “fun.” It’s real work, but oh, so satisfying and fulfilling.

  8. 👌👌👌📷

  9. Thought I’ve never purchased a very expensive camera with all the lenses, I do believe cameras are a fantastic way to capture moments. However, the camera can’t always capture the moment, so sometimes I take a picture and sometimes I just watch. Nice pics.

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