#37 in a series of background briefs

“Why I became a photographer”

On translating a universal longing into a personal photographic goal

  • A. There’s no big mystery about TCQ

    It’s a longing as old as human history:

    1. You see something remarkable.

    2. You tell others about what you saw.

    3. You want them to believe you.

    Photography is a relatively recent way of “telling” people something — but the longing to be believed applies as strongly as it has for thousands of years.

  • B. “Passing along the power” of undoctored photographs

    A surprising number of photographers have said that they were initially inspired to take up a camera and become a photographer precisely because they were moved by the power of an undoctored photograph that they had seen.

    Some photographers can still describe, decades later, an individual photograph that left a lasting impression on them.

    To pass along that power, many of these photographers have made it their primary photographic goal to show viewers through an undoctored photo how one particular corner of the world looked to their particular camera at one particular time.

  • C. It’s personal, not theoretical

    For the photographers described in “B” above, the “undoctored” aspect of their goal is very important.

    They are actually bothered when they learn that one of their undoctored photos is assumed to be doctored, because that means that “their primary photographic goal” has failed.

    From these photographers’ perspective, if a photo of theirs is regarded as “doctored” it has lost both its power and its purpose, regardless of how much viewers may like the way the photo looks.

    But for better or for worse — and regardless of what anyone may wish for — the public will increasingly assume that impressive photographs are “Doctored unless labeled otherwise.”

    That’s why a label declaring when photograph is NOT doctored — like the “Guaranteed TCQ” label declares — can be a valuable tool for photographers around the world.


See also #20 of the Summary.