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The Rise of the Photographer pt 3: Walking | The Philosophy of Photography

Photography is an art form that allows you to be both integrated with technology and society or secluded from technology and society. Secluded being just you, your eyes, some good light and your camera. This is especially true if you happen to be a landscape or wildlife photographer, but it still reins true if your primary subject is urban. One of the best aspects of photography is that it allows you to become enveloped in your world, in the world that you see and that you want to portray. You allow yourself to disassociate from society and hyper-focus on your end goals, and when you achieve those end goals, you feel accomplished.

What might go unnoticed in photography is the quantity of steps one takes to achieve those end goals, and the magnitude each one of those steps mean. The fundamental philosophy of walking has been explored by many prominent philosophers (primarily existential and transcendental). Immanuel Kant had daily walks no matter the weather, Friedrich Nietzsche would walk alone for up to 8 hours a day while writing The Wanderer and His Shadow. Jean-Jacques Rousseau feared for his life in his final days and wrote The Reveries of a Solitary Walker’ a series of essays about the observations he made on his walks around Paris.

If walking helped the great philosophers to create, then it must have some sort of benefits outside of philosophy. Obviously, it benefits us on a physical level, but I am talking on a more mental and spiritual level. Maybe not as far as Kant’s Transcendental Idealism, but more grounded. It must be prefaced that correlation does not necessitate causation, never-the-less walking does have an inherent trait of transporting us out of our automated “plugged in” lives. Because when a photographer goes out to find a composition that resonates with them they are enveloped in their art form, they are creating, therefore phones tend to stay in the pocket (unless your camera is your phone of course) . Allowing the brains to be disconnected from the onslaught of information, a positive disassociation to the abundance, focusing in on the immediate.

I believe that this is one of the major factors has caused an explosion of popularity within photography. Your images don’t have to be for your portfolio, because photography isn’t a job for you, but a passion. This passion drives you to create and explore, this creation allows you to get lost in a constructive alternate reality. Momentarily forgetting the physical stress of walking as you float ideas in your head, lost in creativity.

Walking is key to this. We often take for granted the concept of a vehicle, and forget how clear the world seems after a good walk.