Dubya thought
Creative Commons License photo credit: Platform 3

Every so often I let my mind wander. I daydream of a life where money was out of the picture, career obligations no matter, and all other limitations non-existent. Whatever my heart desires; it’s mine.

I ask myself: “What would I do… If I could?”

And so, as photographers, I ask you the same. What would you do… if you could? Where would your camera take you? Who would you photograph? What would you capture? And most importantly, would you even take your camera?

The poll this week is an essay quesion — no “easy buttons”. Share your thoughts in the comments on what you would do as a photographer if you had your way. I’ll select a handful of the most insightful and inspiring comments over the next week and post them along with my own thoughts.

UPDATE: Check out the results of this poll where I’ve highlighted some reader comments and offered up my own answer to the question.

20 responses


Do you want to comment?

Comments RSS and TrackBack Identifier URI ?

I think I am doing what I’ve wanted to do. I’m heading to Minnesota to get my doctorate. I’ll be teaching. I’ll have my camera in a whole new place with new things to explore.

If I could add one more thing, it would be more travel. While I’ve traveled quite a bit in the last year, it never seems like enough. I love going to new places — and taking my cameras with me.

April 8, 2008 12:11 pm

If I had my way and obviously money was not an issue I would hire some of the great photographers and travel with them to understand how they see and their approach to capturing images.

I would not limit it to one type of genre, but would take it all in. Can you just imagine the dialogue you could have with them. I would want to go with them on professional shoots or just to their favorite places.

This would be my nirvana.

Niels Henriksen

April 8, 2008 1:32 pm

Wonderful question this week Brain. My answer is pretty simple. It stems from my background as a CNA. If I could get over my shyness (which would be huge) I would work with people who don’t have a voice. Not mutes, but people in a restricted situation. I would document people in prisons, senior homes, mental hospitals. So often they are thought of as there labels. You don’t get to know the person behind that label. I’ve seen a ton of the elderly in senior homes, with their only family being their caretakers. No family ever comes by to see them. Most often they can’t socialize, but with their eyes.

With prisoners, it would be a whole different issue, I’m not sure that I would have the guts to do it, but I’d love to meet them, and document their stories, and try to understand the psychology behind why they committed their crimes. With Mental patients, it would be trying to understand the person behind the illness. They are their illness, but it’s out of their control. I believe there is someone under that illness, but they can’t communicate it. Breaks my heart to think of it. I’ve got a dad with a severe bipolar problem, and he went through many mental hospitals, saw all sorts of crazy things, and thankfully all these years later, he is stable, and living in a home alone, and now can function normally, with medication.

I don’t want to photograph models, or people that are already in the public eye, I want to show who it is, that we aren’t looking at. Of course if I ever partake in all this, it will be in a few years if ever. It’s just a dream right now, and I’m comfortable with it.

Dang this is long, do you mind if I borrow this idea for my blog?

April 8, 2008 1:43 pm

Wow, we’re off to a great start! The answers thus far are as diverse as the people writing them.

@Chica – borrow whatever you want! I’m sure your readers would have some interesting things to say too.

April 8, 2008 2:02 pm

As many places as I would like to go, and as many things as I would like to see, given the choice I think it would be to take a high end camera and lenses on a long African safari. Not having done much wildlife photography, this would be even more of a challenge, but I think it would be the ultimate payoff.

Shooting (camera, not gun!) some of the most amazing animals on earth in their natural habitat would be simply amazing.

If that wasn’t an option, then I guess shooting for Playboy. While it may not be quite the same as shooting African wildlife, I think I could somehow find solace in hot naked-ness!

(don’t judge me!!) =P

April 8, 2008 2:27 pm

The moment mankind sets foot on Mars!

April 8, 2008 2:43 pm

For me it isn’t so much where I would go, but where everyone else would be while I was there. I really enjoy the Yorkshire countryside but all too often people get in the way when I want to photograph.

Often it is simply a case that there is no where to park the car because all the car parks are full after about 9 in the morning, or because people sit in the middle of a perfect view and stay there for long periods.

I have seen photographs of places I would love to photograph myself such as Machu Pichu, the Taj Mahal, and they are all too often just full of people, hiding the essence of the shot.

April 8, 2008 3:03 pm

Hi Brian,

What a concept….. I love photography and am passionate about sailing. This makes for a great combination, so to take this even further…….

I would love to sail to the four corners of this wonderful planet of ours before we destroy it and take as many photographs as possible. I would need to learn more ( WAY MORE) about improving my digital workflow before even considering increasing the size of my digital library, as I am at the upper limit of my current storage capability…… I have a hard disk full of unprocessed RAW files, so need to take one step at a time.

Keep up the great job, love your site and more importantly, love your photography.

Denear

April 8, 2008 3:11 pm

I would do some photo journalism. If I could be there at the right time and the right place… it would be so cool… to capture that moment and see that picture in the local newspaper. The closest I have gotten was when a truck ran into a bridge. I got some cool shots… but I did not call the newspaper in time. Oh Well,

I also would love to travel over seas if I could and take pictures of people. I love taking pictures of people.

April 8, 2008 7:15 pm

Take any long, complex process and follow it from start to end. Planning, construction and deployment – or decommissioning and tear-down – of a ship, oil platform, sewer system, bridge, particle collider, industrial plant … Or start to finish of an industrial development process, from R&D to the marketing of the finished thingy. Follow something longitudinally.

Then, since I’m an utter hack and the sky’s the limit here, I’d have some of my favourite photographers in a Rolodex (I’d have to actually _get_ a Rolodex first, of course) to call on for advice and impromptu ideas on how to approach any specific situation or phase of the project, as well as blunt advice on my own attempts.

April 8, 2008 7:51 pm

Sounds more like a mini blog project, I almost wanted to post my answer at my blog. :D
Right, If I could have the time and a proper lens for bird photography, I would go on a bird shooting frenzy, capturing as many species of bird as I could.
But such a lens is just too expensive and too heavy for me to carry around. How about you sponsor me for that? lol.

April 9, 2008 5:15 am

Firstly I drop back in time a few months and but stacks of Polaroid film so that I wasn’t left wanting now..but I guess that wasn’t really what you were asking :D

I guess I’d do some units at college in photography. I’d buy a Hasselblad and travel to Japan with my family, then on to Germany to feed my Volkswagen addiction.

And since money would be no barrier, I’d fly over every couple of months to join you on your photowalks :D

That’s it really. Everything else I’ve got already.

April 9, 2008 6:17 am

I’ve got a photography shop here in San Diego that still has some polaroid film on the shelves. Swing by and we’ll pick some up. ;)

April 9, 2008 9:46 am

I’m with kriz cpec — it sounds like I need to blog about this one.

April 9, 2008 6:56 pm

Great question Brian! Oh, how to answer this…

I would definitely do photojournalism. It has never been so easy for human beings to communicate and, yet, I think most of us (at least in the US) are more sheltered than ever. Sure, we have streaming video, podcasts, webcasts, but I still don’t think anything packs the same punch or tells the same story as the right photograph. Years from now, when we look at the conflicts and events that changed our lives and the world around us, we don’t remember videos. We remember single images… The young Vietnamese girl running from a napalm attack, the US flag being raised over Iwo Jima, the “Times Square Kiss” after World War II, a young Chinese student standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square. The list goes on…

That being said, I’d travel abroad to conflict zones and poverty-stricken areas of the world and do my best to tell the story of the voiceless. I want to put images in front of people that make them finally say “it doesn’t have to be this way”… I want to be able to make people leap out of their comfortable chairs and coddled lives to do something, anything, to make their world a better place.

_That_ would be true success.

April 9, 2008 8:57 pm

There’s three things that I would like to do.

1) If I could, I would travel around the world and photograph life as I see it. I’d like to capture the contrasts of each culture and I’d like to let people see that even when there are much differences, there would be things that are the same too.
2) I’d like to relive the parables I’ve learned child, to be able to portray each story in a series of photographs…
3) Of course, I’d document my life. That being said. It answers my question, I’d bring my camera with me.

April 10, 2008 3:43 am

I would be a National Geographic photographer (only half joking on this one). I’ve always been impressed by the contributers to this magazine, be they writers or ‘togs. To spend a lifetime, or a large portion of it, committed to one subject matter, and to present it with such unique perspective and accessibility to the rest of the world… that’s passion.

I haven’t travelled very much, but as a migrant and hence a perpetual foreigner to the place i call home today, borders and the people that cross them are very close to my heart. Some do it voluntarily, some are forced. Some are subject to extreme poverty, and others are submerged in luxury from day one. People do it for a myriad of reasons.

A study of the borders that people cross all over the world is something i’d love to commit myself to photographically, in black and white, and full color in seperate sets.

Now to return to reality, where money is way too limited! :)

April 11, 2008 4:03 am

If I could, I would take portraits of street kids, beggars, and basically the people who roam the streets. Taking that a step further (and if I dare), I would follow them around for a week or so and document their daily lives.

We pass these people almost everyday – on the way to work, school, or wherever else we go – but we barely realize they’re there. Worse (and I’m guilty of this too), we deliberately ignore them (especially when they tap on our windows and beg for loose change or food).

I’m not sure how common this sight is in your area, but beggars seem to live on every major intersection here in my city. If I didn’t care about making a living (and wasn’t so worried about my safety), I’d be out there doing this now.

April 11, 2008 6:01 am

I just stumbled onto this site and I love it.

If there were no limitations and no restrictions the first thing I would do is take as many of the Santa Fe workshops as I possibly could. I would then get in my car and drive. I would stop wherever I wanted to shoot the America that people doesn’t think exists but I know is there. I would find people and try to tell their stories. I would find the places that people tend to overlook and shoot and shoot and shoot.

After several months of that I would get on a plane and travel – Europe, Asia, Africa. To be able to go to small, out of the way places; tiny villages; finding “invisible” people and places there as well. There is so much out there I know I could spend the rest of my life shooting and still not get to a small percentage of what I would like to.

April 14, 2008 9:52 pm


Comment now!