A glimpse, a moment, a memory, a sign, a problem, a solution, a wish, a love, familiar, unknown, remarkable, mundane, to report, to comment, to praise, to oppose, friend, foe, history, future …

The reasons for making pictures are as varied as the photographers who make them.

I started making pictures as a kid, using my Dad’s Brownie Hawkeye. I liked the sound of the click, looking down into the fuzzy viewfinder. I couldn’t wait to see one of my pictures in the stack of deckle-edged prints that came back from the drugstore. My early photographs mimicked my parents’ – family scenes, friends and pets. No thoughts of career or genre or copyright – just a confirmation of a moment past and the satisfaction of making something I could hold in my hands.

I’d have to say that I’ve evolved through the years – first learning photography, then photography-the-hobby, the early commercial work, then the well-funded hobby, then back to what I like to think of as more enlightened commercial work plus artful personal projects – and today I’ve come full circle. I knew it intuitively in the beginning and now it’s a relief to return to that clearly defined purpose – confirmation of a moment past, and the satisfaction of holding something in my hands that I made.

Today I try to approach my images with this intention: communicate clearly, compose precisely, finish professionally, but capture and keep the imperfections that give them a humanity. I’m a perfectionist about the process, but I want to impose minimal impact on the content. I prefer to observe, not direct. I’m a digital zealot who hates digital-looking images.

And I print – because for me the print is the reason I photograph. The print keeps me honest. I create from an empty frame that thing that I hold in my hands.

Why do you make pictures?

Have you thought about it lately? Do you remember why you started and how making a picture felt in the early days? Have you put that into words – written it down? Make some time to sort this out, to remember and to reconnect. Write a short paragraph, a sort of mission statement to remind you why you make pictures. Then let it inspire you by reading it before your next shoot – or your next 10. And see the difference it makes.


© 2011 Mark Berndt | All Rights Reserved