The Passion that drives Photographers-“WHY WE DO IT”.


Today’s vibrant photographic community is our eyes. They are journalists and artists, or they may be passionate emerging voices. Their work informs, inspires, amazes, and places our world within the larger context of history.

This community faces many challenges, including declining sales, increased competition, and a fragile trust that photographers have a mission to inform. These factors can cause photographers and editors to lose sight of the things that drive them.

This post is my last as editor at TIME LightBox. I asked my 13 colleagues – many of whom have been photo editors and photographers who have influenced me over the past ten years – these fundamental questions: Why do they do this? They wake up each morning eager to take photos, edit them and publish them. Why is photography so important for them, and all of us?

Kathy Ryan, Director Photography

Photographs are our universal language. Everybody has hundreds of photographs in their pockets, if not thousands. They are weightless and turn the scales when they argue about: What happened? Images never age or shrink. Great photographers never lose their tune.

Photographers are needed for this reason. Photographers are the ones who can sort through the chaos and create images that give clarity to the chaotic world. They are the artists and witnesses who can see the beauty and chaos in the world. They draw our attention both to things that we don’t notice in our daily lives and to people and events far away from us. We are able to see and hear what they see with clarity and honesty when we direct our eyes and hearts. Photographers show us how to look twice and look harder. See their eyes.

Ruddy Roye, Photographer

I shoot because it is what I see. Because if I don’t, who will? Activism is a dirty word. Because I am a passionate advocate for a cause, I shoot because it brings me peace.

What is a “cause?”? Webster defines a “cause” as “a person, thing, or entity that acts, happens, and causes some thing to happen as a result; the producer or effect.”

Every image that I take is meant to reexamine and redefine the image of the black person, black woman and black child. My photography is primarily a motivator or catalyst for human action. Each picture I take asks me the question, “Who are I?” and “What is my role on this planet?” This is how I see. It’s my way to say that this is another way I see me.