Why bother?!

11 years, 10 months ago 280

I was having an very interesting conversation with a photographer several days ago and something he said has continued to ring in my ears. He said, ” I see so much good work, I just wonder why bother, I will never be that good!”  I know how he feels, but I’ve got and answer to “why bother!”  First let me set the stage by saying that he is certainly right about the wealth of great work today.  I have favorite photographers just like everyone else, let me share the work of some of my “photographic” heroes and then let me continue this train of thought.


You’ve just been exposed to the work of  five photographers whose work I love and try to emulate.  Will I ever be as good as any of them at these kinds of work?  Truthfully, that is not the relevant question.  The relevant question is, “am I enjoying working hard to get better?”  If your hobby or passion makes you miserable, stop doing it, pick a new hobby!  Let me share five ways to get better at photography and enjoy it more in the process!


(1.)  Remember this is a journey, not a destination.  Instead of worrying about how good others are, think about what you can learn from them and how you can work to improve your own images.  Take full advantage of the people, places and conditions you can enjoy.  Soak in the joy of just holding a camera in your hand, and attempting capturing all the beauty God has made!


(2.)  Celebrate the success of others.  It does not make you any better to down grade them or their work..  Nothing kills creativity and vision worse than being blinded by envy for what others have accomplished.  True joy is when you appreciate what others have done, and aspire to do so well yourself!  Be thankful for those that inspire you.  In all honesty, they have probably earned it with hard work, are you following that example?


(3.)  Find your passion and then work it.  If you love flowers, shoot flowers, if you love airplanes, photograph airplanes!  You will never find real photographic succes trying to photograph things that simply do not interest you.  An understanding of your subject will open your eyes to see  much more deeply, and find the most creative ways to capture your subjects. 


(4.)  Don’t be afraid to experiment!  The great advantage to the digital age is we can shoot, look at what we’ve captured, and still have the chance to try it again in a different way, all while standing right in front of the subject!   That’s a luxury we never had with film.  We learn by trying, observing, and trying again. Keep working the scene!  There are no short cuts to experience!


(5.)  Have fun!  I’ve reached and age that if it’s not fun, I’m not all that interested in it!  The love of photography should be a time of great joy for you.  The people and places, the experiences, and the joy of learning should make you happy, if it doesn’t, maybe this is not the hobby for you.


I’m celebrating my 44th year of being a working photographer, and at this point in my life,  I have only one photographic goal; “to be better tomorrow than I am today, and love every minute of the journey!”  If I can do that it won’t matter how many great photographers there are in the world!




the pilgrim


P.S.  Did you notice how many times I used the word “work”,  that might be a tip!

280 Responses

  1. Glenn says:

    Another great post. Well said and appreciated.

  2. Mike Moats says:

    Bill, I am honored to be included in such great company. Your post will ring true for so many photographers and you answers to “why bother” is right on the money. A perfect post in this era of photography.

  3. Jim Clark says:

    From one of your many mentees over the years, great article and message…Hope you are doing well…

  4. Liz Smith says:

    Thank you Bill for starting my day off with your inspiring words. I have been struggling a lot lately with my photography and was considering putting my camera away.

  5. Rachel H says:

    Thank you for this post. I do sometimes wonder why I bother when I see others’ work, but I have to remind myself that the people who matter most to me (friends and family) love my pictures, and so do I.

    I love the inspiration that I get from other photographers, which is why I share photos on Google+ of photos that catch my eye.

  6. Jeff Johnson says:

    Good advice. Not only applies to photography, but any endeavor. Thanks for your thoughts. Your photographic work looks plenty good to me.

  7. winnie says:

    Some terrific advice here. I pretty much figured this stuff out by myself but it’s great seeing it put into words. I DO wonder “why bother” but when I see how much better I’ve become in the past 3.5 years, I’m happy I’ve continued to bother. I truly enjoy learning from other people and I find that some of the younger photographers out there have a way of seeing the world much differently than I do; it’s a joy to learn from them. Thanks for the inspiring article.

  8. John E Adams says:

    Wonderful piece and advice, stumbled on it and your beautiful work by Scott Kelbys G+ post this morning. Love your work Bill!

    Cheers and God Bless!


  9. Joel Pointer says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

  10. Dave Dugdale says:

    “Remember this is a journey, not a destination. ” that is so true for me, a lot of times it is the stories I bring back from the photo shoot, rather than the image itself.

  11. Neil Schulman says:

    Enjoyed your article. Have to agree, especially about shooting what you enjoy. Too many people think they should shoot what someone else shoots — or how someone else shoots. I still like to experiment and try different things but the more often I work the subjects I’m interested in the happier I become.

    Are you planning on visiting us at SANP in Knoxville again anytime soon?

    God bless,

    Neil (still have a picture of you and me at SANP!)

  12. Dave Hanner says:

    Bill, “why bother” has crossed my mind many times, it’s like you read my mind with this post. Thank you so much for the reminder, too often in the hustle and bustle of this world we are only focused on the destination, but the real joy and excitement comes from the journey.

  13. Greg Cary says:

    I have enjoyed your work over the past few months. First saw you on Kelbytv. Thanks for the works of wisdom and incouragement. i am at an age that i need to focus on what i am good at and enjoy.
    Have a great Day

  14. Donna M says:

    This is so true. I am a strictly amateur photographer with a point & shoot digital that has so much fun taking pictures. Thank you for voicing these feelings and sharing them.

    Donna M

  15. sandylee says:

    thanks for the inspiration, I love looking at others work and learning something new from them. Sharing this with others.

  16. Son says:

    Thank you for your post. Even I am into photography for about 7 years. And it’s just a hobby. I was wondering the same thing as your friend when I looked at other photographers’ works like Ian Plant, Marc Adamus, etc… especially those that are near or the same age as me. But every point you have made in the is so true. I love photography.

  17. You are so right Bill !!!!
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us.

  18. Betty Owen says:

    I am a 90 year old amateur photographer with a Canon PowerShot SX200 camera. I like to take photographs which I can use as inspiration for my paintings. Everyone sees differently, and with a different perspective–it is not a matter of ‘being the best’ but finding the joy that comes from seeing your unique vision captured.

  19. Maralee Park says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I constantly strive to improve my photos and other photographers are great inspiration to me. My photography is a work in progress and I look forward to many years of progress.

  20. Ken Zuk says:

    Great post brother!

    This has been a week full of joy. We are in the Tetons visiting our son who serves at the ministry of Jackson Hole Bible College. I know that I am not a “pro” but let me say, that there is so much joy in photography – just amazing to capture God’s glory in His creation.

    Why bother? To put God on display–that would sum it up for me. Now if I could get more consistent on my blog 🙂

    Thanks for being a light!

  21. Bill Stice says:

    Bill, I truly enjoyed your comments. Life in general is about the journey and enjoying it along the way. I am 64 years old and have been doing photography for over 30 years. I was asked the other day if I had ever taken a perfect photograph. My response was “while I have never taken the perfect photograph, I have observed and photographed a lot of perfect subjects”. It truly is all about the journey.

  22. Pete Miller says:

    What a fantastic article! Your thoughts have long been my modus operandi (i.e., not fun? Look for something else to do! )

    When you are passionate about your work/hobby, you don’t worry about the minutia.

  23. Susan in Columbus says:

    One sees a lot of great photographic advice in Bill’s blog. This is among the very finest, especially because it’s pertinent to all skill levels. And those five points define every one of the His Light events I’ve attended!

  24. Larry Anderson says:

    Wow! That’s my main thought — “WOW!”

    Such a great, provocative post, Bill. Then, all these comments here. Man, oh man! What nourishment for my soul today!

    Ya know….I’ve not had many people who gasp in amazement and adoration of my photographs; however, I’ve had many people to look at me, either when I’m showing my photos (coupled with the ever-present Southern stories about the experience) or when we’re out shooting together, and say, “Larry, you really love this, don’t you?” Of course, my answer is “Yes!” But, it’s not just the photography–the technical part–but the experiences.

    Yes, I learned a great deal from your online course from the Smokies, Bill. But, more than that, I enjoyed watching you ENJOY that time, even though it was quite cold when you were filming. You put a smile in my heart…and, oh yeah, you had a camera along for the experience.

    Keep it up, brother! And, major “high fives” to all those who have commented here, too!

  25. Jose Goulart says:

    Thanks for this post Bill Fortney.
    Love this vision, “way of life”, because i think the same.
    What is good is doing things we love, things that make us happier, better, “stronger” 😉
    And there’s always a tip… ok… tips : work, pleasure, work, knowing, work, pleasure, sharing our passion, work, pleasure, etc ….
    Thank you for this share, it’s so good to read things like this.

  26. […] Bill had some great answer to why you should bother, and if you didn’t read the post yet go Here […]

  27. Rhys Gelig says:

    Wow, truly inspirational. You’ve inspired me a lot. I have always been insecure of my photos. And after I’ve read your article, I realized that photography, for me, is about the joy in capturing the moment. Thanks Bill.

  28. […] HERE is a link to a post on ‘Why (we should) bother’ trying to take photographs when there is so much great stuff out there. Thanks Terry for the link! […]

  29. […] was reading an article the other day from Bill Fortney on his blog called “Why Bother.” Bill is an amazing photographer and Nikon know-it-all so when he […]

  30. Karen Caebeer says:

    I first heard your name when young Luke Kermode thanked you and others for being his inspiration in a guest blog for Scott Kelby. I too live in northwest Lower Michigan, one town north of Luke’s. I was drawn to his post because of his last name. It turns out that I went to college with Luke’s aunt. I have, unfortunately, lost track of Luke’s work, since his website is no longer active. Just wanting to know that Luke is well; most likely he’s off to college doing the normal growing up type activities. Regardless, thanks so much for your inspirational post. It was right on. Karen

  31. […] to change the way you feel about your own photography and why “Why we bother” at all.Here’s the link. [DISCLAIMER: Within his article Bill lists his five favorite photographers, and I about fell over […]

  32. Great post! And now I just need to work a little harder so you’ll add a woman to your list of favorite photographers! : )

  33. Wow! So much of what you’ve said rings true with my own feelings about photography and where I’m going with it. Thanks for putting this down on “paper”.

  34. Awesome post Mr. Fortney!
    I will be sharing this with others as it is great advice. I am happy to say I have accomplished #’s 1 & 2 but it took some time and experience and acceptance that I am a good photographer but still have so much to learn. #5 is how I look at everything 🙂 Now it’s time to find my passion and experiment.

    Thanks again for the great post.

  35. Tim Ziegler says:

    I’ve read everything that Scott Kelby has put in print and almost everything he has suggested to read. I “practice” when my girls (2 + wife) are asleep. I try something new every time I pick up my camera, and yet still I also learn and strive to learn. Thanks to Scott Kelby for reposting this blog, I am forever a fan!!! Though I will never be a truly great artist as you have mentioned above, I hope someday to at least strive for my own level of perfection! Thanks, Bill for giving me some more inspiration, to follow my passion ( I’m a pharmacist, I shoot mortars and pestles ) and love every minute of my own digital photographic journey!

  36. Bill, your post is only surpassed by your kind nature and humbleness. You actually respond to those who take the time to comment on your post. How rare is that!

    • admin says:

      All the Glory goes to my Heavenly Father, and yes, if someone is kind enough to write me, I want to respond!

  37. Matt Vanecek says:

    Wow. Deep. Why bother? Because how you treat the journey determines how happy you are; how satisfied you are. Because the journey ends when you leave this world and not before. Why bother? Because bothering can change somebody’s life, and not just our own.

    • admin says:

      Wonderfully stated. I’ve often said when people go to my funeral if the only thing they could say about my life was he was good photographer, I’ve been an utter failure!

  38. anya carluen says:

    Amazing! Praise God! I was truly inspired. Thank you for this wonderful post very encouraging. I love photography ever since I was a little girl when I got my first analog camera, I am an amateur photographer sometimes I want to give up and shy away because there a lot of great photographers out there. Now I’m 32 years old and want to be serious and concentrate more. I asked God in my prayer for I know Jesus is in my heart that everything is possible, If He will allow Photography as part of my ministry and He gave me an answer, He leads me to this Photoblog.Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Thank you Anya, I am here to serve Him and share His love, my only part is to show up and say Yes Sir to Him.

  39. Neboysha Novkovich says:

    This can be applied in any area of life. Thanks for that!

  40. Vinny O'Hare says:

    Excellent post!

    Life is too short to be in a constant competition with other photographers. I come across a lot of people that have lens envy and claim their equipment is the best. I just laugh at them and feel sorry for them at the same time.

    It isn’t about the equipment you use it is about the ride! I wish I had a nickel for every time I put the camera down and enjoyed the view instead for a few minutes.

    • admin says:

      Vinny, I’ve even forgot to shoot!!!!!

      • Teressa says:

        I am just a hobby photographer, but I definately agree with everything you have said. I take pictures of things that catch my eye and because I love doing it. People do not understand when I refuse to accept pay. I only do weddings and special events for people that are special to me or that I know cannot afford to have a pro and would have to be without pictures to help preserve the special times. I do this because I love doing it, nothing more. I do not aspire to being a professional, however I do try to continue to improve each time I pick up my camera. And, like you, I have forgotten to shoot because I was having so much fun introducing someone else to photography. Your post is truely inspirational and enforces the way I feel about photography. Thank you!

  41. You nailed it Bill. With the era of Internet and digital photography we are simply exposed to so many incredible photographs every day. As a beginning photographer I enjoy every moment to see great work and I try to absorb as much knowledge as possible.

    And I want to thank you Bill for your work on the craft of photography, you bring inspiration to all phographers around the world.

  42. Girish says:

    Truly a beautiful post. Such simple thoughts yet so true.

    Thanks to Scott Kelby for the link.

  43. Thanks for the great post Bill, I needed to hear that today. Sometimes I forget what brought me to photography in the first place. “Remember this is a journey, not a destination.” Great quote Bill & I have been blessed with many great journey’s.

  44. Oh man, feels great after reading your post. Thank you so much Bill !

  45. Thank you , Bill, for your inspiring words. I am also of the ‘age’ that i don’t do photography otherwise than when I love the subject or surrounding. And what is happening : people ask me to do work for them instead of me ‘selling’ myself .They recognize my passion of making beautiful pictures of almost nothing.
    So my ‘travel’ photography is nearby and round the corner.The great photographers are almost like a big family for inspiration .Thanks to the internet !

  46. Mary-Anne says:

    Thank you Bill…this post is exactly what I need..and though some people may think my photographs are something to comment on I know I had a… blast taking t 🙂

    • admin says:

      I am more and more realizing that my greatest joy is the time in the field with friends! The images are almost secondary.

  47. Lynnett Gray says:

    Thank you. Very timely words of advice for me. I felt like I was climbing a mountain that was getting higher and higher. Now maybe I can enjoy the view along my journey, instead of feeling intimidated. Thanks again for sharing your revelation.

  48. From a small town in Denmark. Thank you very much 🙂
    You tell it short and precise, it was an eye opener for me to read, i’ve just started photography, and ive cought myself saying ‘why bother’ several times – But i’ve pulled myself together and ignored my own way of feeling and just kept shooting what i like.
    I will link to this and spread the wise words of a man with great passion for what he does.

  49. Teus Renes says:

    Just found your blog,via scott kelby. You have written this piece very well, and gives me some food for thought, thank you very much for that. I will check out your 5 photographers who you find inspirational.


    Teus Renes

  50. Mark Imhof says:

    Hey Bill, this is a great Blog Post that is right on! This does’t only aply to photography but to every thing we do.
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  51. This article was so Good-I was just starting to think this way myself (Why Bother)-Such an encouraging read-Thanks for the post!

  52. Denise Smith says:

    WOW! Thank you for a really insightful article. As a novice photographer I have been trying my hand at all types of photography and feel that there are certainly types that are not for me. Articles like yours inspire me to try harder and improve my work. Once again thank you.

  53. Thank you Sir! So thankful for people like you that are willing to teach and inspire the extreme hobbyists like us!

  54. Judy Bowen says:


    I am a nature photographer, and my greatest joy is when someone looks at one of my images admires–not the image–but The Creator that made the subject.

    I sent you an email with a recent macro image. Speaking of inspiration–much of mine has come from YOUR work! I appreciate you and your photography and your joyful spirit very much!

    I love the Great Smoky Mountains, by the way, and go there with my sister whenever I’m in the States. One of my home bases is Chattanooga, TN.

    (I’m the missionary in Africa that sent you a couple of self-published books last year.)

    Keep on!

    Togo, West Africa

  55. I’m an absolute beginner and – I’m italian – I speak and read English just a little. But I appreciate a lot what you wrote and I think this will be my Holy Bible for my journey in photo. Thanks, Sergio.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Sergio, but take this as a suggestion and make the real Holy Bible your manual for life! Bless you!

  56. Bill,
    A tremendously inspiring post – this applies to all facets of life. As an amateur, there are days I have had all these thoughts while realizing how hard it is to standout. Having said that, I am an amateur and simply do not have time to work hard at photography like you and Scott, therefore my progress will be slower, yet just as rewarding. Photography is an amazing field and we should just be thankful for the opportunities we do get.
    Thanks again.

  57. Orlando Uy says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and putting things in the right perspective. I am enjoying my photographic journey, and reading this article just confirmed many of my beliefs.

  58. Mark Fogarty says:

    Some great advice in this post… thanks so very much. I’m going to share this with the photo club I belong to.

    btw… I discovered this post via Scott Kelby’s blog post today. Your blog is definitely going into my regular blog reader rotation…. not that I’m suggesting that that’s the ultimate pinnacle of achievement by a blogger… 🙂

  59. Great article, you must work at what you love and you must love your work to make it the best it can be. I try to pass that advice on to others all the time. Thanks for making it easier to share.


  60. Kathy Porupski says:

    Thanks for the inspirational words Bill as I needed them.
    I’ve been struggling with my self with the recent loss of my mom. With the thoughts of 30+ years I’ve spent behind the camera I could and should have taken more images, captured more moments of her. Spent the last few months as she battled her last fight with cancer capturing what I could but they were to be lifeless as she was and having a hard time picking my camera up again and thinking why bother…
    I’m inspired by your blog post and sit here as I read it and tell myself its its time to jump back into this game of life and start enjoying its journey again. As you say yes, its worth it and those words of “why bother” did run through my thoughts as I felt the pressure of the unspoken title of the families picture historian to sort through and come up with a slideshow tribute for her Celebration of Life. That all those years of peaceful happiness of having a camera in my hand has brought to me when I’m able to wander aimlessly capturing beautiful scenes of mother nature or of the world and people I see and meet along the way. 🙂
    Thank you for taking the time to inspire and touch lives and hope to catch up with you again soon. Possibly if you get back to Tampa to visit Kelby World…

    God bless and thanks Bill!

    • admin says:

      Kathy, I understand you loss,having lost all my family except my brother. I’ve twice survived cancer and know I’m only here as long as He has need of me in His service. I’m glad you’re getting back in the saddle. Much blessings!

  61. Dennis Zito says:

    Thank you so much Bill for this very enlightening post! For me, just being able to get up each and every day and have the opportunity to see and photograph GOD’s beauty is amazing! I retired at 70 and haven’t looked back! I started my Photo hobby about 6 yrs ago. I not the best, but people like what I’ve done! Like you said … it has to be fun!!! I love learning, sharing and shooting! Every time I get in the car and drive somewhere, I’m always looking at the beauty around me … we are truly blessed in the USA! Thanks for your encouraging post!

    God Bless,


    • admin says:

      Dennis I’m right behind you, I am 66 and life has never been better, I wish and pray the same for you, God Bless.

  62. Scott Wilson says:

    What a great sentiment, well expressed – thanks for sharing Bill! I’m going to make this sure this inspiring message gets out to all the members of my local camera club in the UK. Happy shooting! Scott

  63. Michael McGee says:

    This is a note to share and remember when you think your having a bad day.. Thank-you Sir:-)

  64. jim mcd says:

    Thanks Bill for the insight and narrative. You’ve been a great mentor over the years (While I’ve never meet you in person, I have followed your px and writings.)! A humble person who practices what he “preaches.” Thanks so much!

  65. Hi Bill!

    Just read about this post on Scott Kelby’s blog – very good advice that applies to photography and to pretty much any other profession and hobby. If you’re not enjoying what you are doing – why bother? 🙂

    Cheers from Atlanta

  66. Betsy Hansen says:

    Just came across your blog, and the first post I’ve read got me intrigued! I must admit, sometimes I do feel “why bother” as well, however when I look back on my achievements and focus on how I could become better, it becomes a goal for me in the end.

    I guess with that thought in mind, I improve myself and think back “now why did I even think of ‘why bother'” 😀

  67. David Piet says:

    I hope you don’t mind if I put a link to this article on our club website. It’s a must read!

  68. Mike Dooley says:

    Fantastic post Bill, this really hit home for me! This applies to so much in life!

  69. Chad says:

    Refreshing article! I look at my photography in a negative way (never good enough or what I expect from myself). You article sheds wonderful light on just being free from the drowning of fear and potential failures. Thank you for sharing.

  70. Simon says:

    Hi Bill,

    I saw reference to this via a link in a FB friend’s post. Very good, thank you. Sometimes the problem is with how to find the resources that can best help to improve, though. That said, I still enjoy the challenge!

  71. John Meadows says:

    Very good post!!

    Two of my favourite sayings come to mind (both related to music, but apply to any creative endeavour):

    “If only the best birds sang, the forest would be a very quiet place”

    “Alas for those who never sing, but die with all their music in them”

  72. Jeff says:

    I am a beginning photographer and really enjoyed reading your article. If it is OK I posted a link to it on my website. Take care and keep posting

  73. Shari says:

    I found this through Scott on Twitter and I am so glad. It is what I needed to read because I sometimes I wonder too. I am 70 and have survived two cancers. It was during my recovery of the first about seven years ago I found photography. Loving it so much and teaching myself Photoshop has got me through some hard times. I cherish your words Bill and will keep them close because I know how much I love photography and learning – I just have to remind myself at times!

  74. Jim says:

    Celebrate the beauty of what God has put before us and make Him proud of your work.

  75. Riaan Roux says:

    I am so happy you included Scott Kelby. I truly admire his work…and the way he works. I follow a rule of “Try, try and try again. If it doesn’t work, try on another day” I have sometimes gone back to places to try another shot with different light, time or weather which could make a big difference.

    I love looking at great works by other photographers, but rather than just admire it I would find myself stare at it for a while and try to figure out how it could have been captured. I find inspiration in others work and perhaps a new way of doing something I may have gotten into a rut with.

  76. Apple Lane says:

    What a wonderful post, Bill…and after reading your site…. what a beautiful mind.
    I love your work… and your Kelby Training tutorial on macro photography made me look at that magic like a child seeing Christmas lights for the first time.
    Thanks for your inspiration. I may never try the things you have done but you sure make me want to do better with the photos that I take.

  77. Amen. This is an insightful and encouraging article. I’m grateful to have come across it as pursue a career in photography. Thank you Sir.

  78. Karthik Mohan says:

    It was a lovely read and highlighted some of the points that I have been thinking about myself. Felt good reading about the same thing from a different perspective. Good one !

  79. John Rocha says:

    Hi Bill
    I came to this post via Scott Kelby’s post. You’ve got it absolutely right. I’ve been a photographer for over 50 years – and like you I say that if it’s not fun don’t do it. Sure there are lots of photographers out there but we can all get better and have more fun – enjoy your photography.

  80. Shaun White says:

    I got back into photography in 2006 with a Canon 400D or I think they call it in the U.S. Rebel something.
    Then in 2009 I walked into a book store here in my home town and was looking through photography books and came across Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book. I ended up purchasing the 3 book box set.
    This changed something inside me and it made me realise that what I was doing was fun, exciting, doing it wrong most times and most of all it was FUN.
    By the end of 2010 I joined NAPP & Kelby Training, changed over to Nikon (D700) and was introduced to a world of excitement and professionals that teach what it is that they do, not only their hobby but their profession.
    One person that I was introduce to was you Bill. I had seen a photo of you with Scott and thought wow this really looks interesting.
    I love watching you classes and going back over them. So much to learn you just can not watch once.
    The sad thing that I have come across is people going out with a new camera & lenses after spending lots of money to become a Pro and get blown away out of photography because they did it for money first.
    For me the money is the last thing that I am doing this for.
    R.C. has a good saying something like “make some money to feed the Passion.”
    If I was not into photograph I would be falling back onto my trade as a carpenter as my hobby but I am in love with the camera and playing with the creativity that can be produced.
    I my not be a great photographer but Following people like you I am sure that will change.

    God Bless You Bill for your time and effort with the post, it is very inspiring and such a pleasure to read.

    Best Regards

    Shaun White.

  81. Luke Zeme says:

    Came across this blog through Scott Kelby, and I just wanted to say your words of wisdom were fantastic. Great post !

    • admin says:

      Thanks Luke!

      • Melanie says:

        I am brand new to photography and have zero confidence. I needed this reminder that I am on a journey!!! Thank you for sharing your faith and belief in God. I will be reading your blog everyday!

  82. alison says:

    Thank you for this inspirational as well as informative article. I will print it out and read everytime that feeling comes over me. 🙂

  83. Work. Work indeed. If I had a $1 for every time I heard someone say “I wish I could do that!”…
    I didn’t wish anything in photography, and I bet you didn’t either. Professional photographers know that 1000 photo days are the norm, not the exception, to getting good. Fail a ton and know which way not to go! See what worked well and do more of that! Read, take more photos, review, repeat!

  84. Dick Gardner says:

    Thanks Bill, I needed this to get back on track again.

  85. Dick Gardner says:

    Thanks Bill, I needed this.

  86. Ivan Boden says:

    Thank you for re-inspiring me when I needed it most. I was feeling down lately about my work. I greatly appreciate your words and your magnificent photography.

  87. Shelly Hawthorne says:

    Wow. Truly inspirational and applicable to not just photography but life in general. I am in the process of transitioning into a professional photographer and I will be bookmarking this post to come back and re-read when I get stuck in the “am I good enough” doldrums.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

  88. James Sheng says:

    Great article! I shared it on facebook with my other photographer friends.

  89. Mark Coleman says:

    Thanks Bill, this was very timely, I am going through one of those periods in life where I doubt my ability.
    You reminded me why I started this wonderful hobby some 40 years ago with a battered Zenith!
    To have fun!!
    Thanks again.


  90. Nikocarol says:

    Great reminder,great message,well taken and thanks so much for your sincere article.

  91. ILD says:

    Thank you so very much for this post. I started photographing in 2008 – a very special person saw some of my photographs and said you should consider photography. Ever since that day I have been hooked – it was like awakening from a deep sleep. Then due to circumstances I was only able to begin about six months ago and I was on a roll. I love love love having the camera in my hand – I am absolutely lost to the world. However in the last month or so I have been feeling “why bother” – there is so much better out there. Thank you for your post – I am keeping it safe so I can read it every time that question comes up again. Again I really appreciate it!

  92. Mike says:

    I’m blessed by the read. Thanks for the words of encouragment.

  93. Ali says:

    I came across this post by coincidence. But, I’m glad that it happened because my first interesting is graphic design, build websites and photography, it’s all relevant to each other and I’m looking for any tip that can help me to improve in any field. I can tell from your post and from a lot of sources that the most important thing that everyone need to is “loving what you do” .
    Your post has a lot of inspiration, from now I’m gonna check your website everyday and learn from you 🙂
    Thank you sir!

  94. eydbii says:

    Thanks for your insight. Truly inspirational. I hope you don´t mind, I am sharing your “why bother” on my facebook site and blog, to give it to my fellow photographers in the Faroe Islands. Thanks again!

  95. David Stanley says:

    Great Article.

  96. Craig McCann says:

    So inspiring! I’m seventeen years old and have had a great interest in photography since the age of around eight (getting my first D-SLR for my 10th birthday). I often get asked whether I’m going to pursue photography as a career when I finish studying, to which I usually reply “I’m not sure, I doubt it – there’re too many people out there producing great photos nowadays, it’ll be too much of a struggle”. However, following this post, I seem to have had an instant sense of “why not?!” for which, sir, I’d like to thank you very much.



  97. jimmy says:

    Thank you for this post. Truly inspiring!!!

  98. I have only been doing this a year, but constantly struggle with the “why bother” question. I have come to the conclusion that I love it and that is why I bother. Thank you for this post and thank you for opening my eyes to 3 more people to learn from.

  99. Susan B says:

    The time that I can say – “That’s what I was looking for!” when I put the final touches on a shot is the best feeling – it may not be to the level of my favourites (yet) but it shows me that I am progressing – progress is good!

  100. […] Mr. Fortney goes on to make other great points that are worthy of your consideration – you can read his entire post here. […]

  101. Timothy Hale says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I am the senior civilian photojournalist for the U.S. Army Reserve Command and you were gracious enough to sponsor me a couple of years ago into NPS after meeting me at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar where I was a workshop instructor.

    Your words in this post ring true for me, especially in the military photojournalism community. There are a handful of us who have, in the words of others, “made it.” What they fail to realize is that we have failed over and over but we get back up and keep at it, constantly learning and trying to improve our craft. You are right, jealousy and envy do not go well to improve one’s photographic work.

    I often tell younger Soldiers that it’s not about the awards and recognition, what is more important is that we are capturing images that tell the story of that individual Soldier we are tromping through the field with or that particular unit we are covering. It’s about getting to know your subjects and having that show in the images.

    With your permission, I would love to share your words with our Soldiers. Would you mind?


  102. Art Meripol says:

    Great post. Straightforward, clear well thought out. The voice of experience for sure.
    And work? Yea, it’s all hard work and never gets any easier. But when it’s going good it never feels like ‘work’, just working hard at my joy and passion. But when it’s not working? Just work harder, press on and it’ll come.

    There are so many people working at extremely high levels, some I know and many I don’t but they inspire. At this point, 40 years in, I celebrate their achievements, emulate where i can. thanks for the post.

  103. I love pithy! Well said sir.

  104. Johnny Boyd says:

    Geat post!

    I was surprised to see that the first three photographers you mention have also been in my Blog favorites folder as well as Scotts’ and yours. I’ll have to look at Mr. Begley’s Blog and I am sure I will add him to that folder. I have Why Bothered for many years myself, in fact I was once a hunter until the mid 80’s.Setting on a beach 40 clicks north of Puerto Vallarta I caught an attitude and came home and sold all my guns. With that money I spent it all on new and better lenses and a Nikon FE2. I then became a new hunter. I hunted for photo knowledge to improve and learn to see like a painter and camera. I hunted for the light. I hunted for new locations near my home. I hunted for the wind when I wanted the wind. I hunted for wildflowers God bestows on us each each Spring across the Texas Hill Country. I hunted for Alpenglow on the Rocky and Smokies mountainsides. I hunted for the fall colors that God’s glory has bestowed upon each Fall. Still I hunt as I never grow tired of the hunt and what lies around the next corner or over the mountain top. I had the pleasure to meet you a few years ago in Austin, Texas as you were doing a presentation at the Precision Camera weekend. I still long to hunt the colors at Arlington as I still get a tear in my eye, a lump in my throat when I remember that slide show you put up for all of us to see. I hope to hunt along side you one day…….. in Arlington perhaps.

  105. Marc says:

    Great post, makes you just to want to grab a camera go out and shoot

  106. Melanie says:

    I am brand new to photography and have zero confidence! I worry to much about what others will think. I needed this reminder that it’s a journey and I need to enjoy it. Thank you also for sharing your faith and belief in God. Your blog will definitely be added to my favorites.

  107. Jason says:

    Thanks for the words of wisdom Bill… I am also still learning. I’ve only been shooting for about 3 years and thanks to wonderful teachers like you, I can look back at my first works and see improvement. I’m still learning.

  108. Kenneth Sporsheim says:

    Thank you so much for a very good post. I really know what you are talking about. I started to really be serious about photography 4 years ago. I had one big goal, get the cover on Metal Hammer (Music magazine), i have reached that now. Now i have set my self new goals. And as you write; “to be better tomorrow than I am today, and love every minute of the journey!” is something everybody should have as wisdom, not only in photography. In the beginning i often asked my self “Why bother” when i saw how much better some people are, but now i use them to find inspiration to get better. 90% of my photography is music, but i still find inspiration in other types of photo and photographers, and you are amongst one of them. And thank you again for this good post.

  109. Tom Kostes says:

    Great post, sage advice.

    For me, the desire to capture and share images of this wondrous third rock from the sun and all her impossible denizens is enough to keep me working for as long as I possibly can.

    Like you, I try to get better at it each and every day. Thanks for sharing, it’s great to know their are many of us who feel the wonder of existence, which fuels our creative fires.

  110. Very inspiring. Thank you! (:

  111. Tom Wasinger says:

    Fantastic article. I was just saying those words “why bother” to myself after visiting an art festival this past weekend and seeing so many photographers with talent well beyond mine. However, after reading your post I am taking on a different attitude. Thanks for the inspiration!

  112. […] 1)      Don’t Feel Overwhelmed.  It’s easy to see all the great photography that’s appearing in magazines, online and everywhere else we turn and think – “I’ll never be good at this.”  Try not to judge your work against others.  If you’re enjoying it and having fun, that’s all that matters. And if you are willing to work at it, you will get better over time and enjoy shooting more and more.  Here’s a terrific recent blog post on judging our own work that is definitely worth reading:  Why Bother? […]

  113. Doug Brewer says:

    Hey Bill,

    Hope you’re well. Glad to see this post getting some play around the social networks, because I think the message is valid. Keep doing what you do, old friend.


  114. Peter says:

    Thank you for this good article good read, and yes i love my work that’s makes me going on in life
    and when people love my work and want to buy it that makes me smile even more…..

  115. Susan says:

    I just happened upon this post today and I am glad I did. Very inspiring post and I am grateful to have read it. I often feel like “why bother.” So, thanks for taking the time to write this.

  116. Brandi Blaha says:

    I really needed this. Thank you.

  117. Glenn Owens says:

    Love it Bill !
    “Soak in the joy of just holding a camera in your hand, and attempting capturing all the beauty God has made!”

  118. Sherried says:

    Thank you, Bill. I really need this today.

  119. canon7d says:

    Wonderful article. Very inspiriting just what I needed to read.

  120. Cindy Smith says:

    Hi John,
    I am not a photographer, but I do enjoy taking pictures. I got my first Nikon this past February. It is a D7000. My husband is trying to teach me how to use it. I am learning to how to use it but it will take me a very long time. But that is ok because I have the rest of my life to learn it as well. I am also a cancer survivor 2x. So like you I stop and smell the roses and give all the glory to my heavenly father. I count it as a blessing because I have been able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people I may not have otherwise been able to share the gospel with. Praise God for the different things he takes us throught in different phases of our lives. One of my life verses is Isaiah 40:31. There are many others but this is the one that has helped me the most. I am also going to be a first time grandmother in November. In fact right around Thanksgiving. What a precious gift God could bless our family with and a wonderful son, daughter, and son-in-law. Like you said earlier I am not perfect and I make tons of mistakes, but you pick yourself up and start all over again and again and again. Thank the Lord that he forgives us over and over and over again. Thank you for sharing one of the gifts God has given you. It really shows you heart not only as a professional but also as a person who just loves to photograph for the love of life and the Lord. Yes our heavenly father is number one in my life and it is nice to see other fellow believers sharing the gospel of Christ in the same way that I do. Only mine is not in pictures so much as it is going and reaching out to those in need. The Lord has blessed me with the gift of mercy and discernment and I try to use them to the best of my ability. Thank you for sharing all your beautiful photograps. It is really nice meeting fellow believers in Christ. God Bless you in your ministries and your photographs as well they are absolutely beautiful!!!
    God Bless and looking forward to talking with you soon. I am also on Facebook.
    God Bless again
    Cindy Smith

  121. James R. Kyle says:

    Hello, “Pilgram”….

    I really liked your article here and that Last Line tells IT all….
    “”I have only one photographic goal; “to be better tomorrow than I am today, and love every minute of the journey!” If I can do that it won’t matter how many great photographers there are in the world!””

    Might I add a Quote from – Dewitt Jones….

    “”You do not have to Prove — Improve to be better””

    Take care fello Photographer… Go capture the LIGHT.

    James… 🙂

  122. You seem to have covered everything we can say here so I will just repeat that as I see it we are just competing against ourselves. Each day to be better than we were the day before. The joy I get from photography and post processing is the reason I get up each day. Something new and different in front of my lens gives me the pleasure and anticipation of looking forward to each of those days. I just wish I could find a niche I liked, but I seem to like it all.

  123. Your post is VERY inspiring SIR 🙂

    Thank you very much!

  124. […] Fortney is an amazing photographer, and he only amazed me more when he published this post- “Why Bother?” on his blog. He gives 5 excellent tips on how to get better at photography as well as stop […]

  125. Why Bother? says:

    […] by photographer Bill Fortney on why he bothers to be a photographer. It is well worth the read. Why bother?! | Bill Fortney __________________ Members don't see ads in threads. Register your free account today […]

  126. […] this often simply means shooting what moves you emotionally. As Bill Fortney says in one of his recent blog posts, “Find your passion and then work it”. Well said, Bill! I couldn’t agree more. In my […]

  127. […] ¿Para que preocuparse? Siempre va a haber alguien mejor que tu. […]

  128. […] August 29, 2012 I stumble upon this inspirational article by Bill Fortney. The article is entitled Why Bother?! found this from Scott Kelby’s G+ post. It is a must […]

  129. […] was reading an article the other day from Bill Fortney on his blog called “Why Bother.” Bill is an amazing photographer and Nikon know-it-all so when he […]

  130. […] Here’s a super awesome blog entry from Bill Fortney about why we never should stop chasing our dreams with photography. […]

  131. Bob Barbour says:

    I had the same feelings concerning “Why Bother?!” until I recently discovered a whole new world of photography called infrared photography. I had an old Canon 20D digital camera, which has a small one inch square monitor, and had it converted to an infrared sensor.
    What a revelation and inspiration for this old shooter to learn a new way of viewing and capturing this heaven on earth. This is one of my favorite quotes and I too love every magic moment of this cosmic journey called life.

    “Of all the things one says and does, I look back on what never was
    then think of all life could be, if I could capture what I see.”
    Quote from the movie “Neverwas”

    Thanks Bill for your love of light!
    As I like to end my emails with this salutation.
    Shine Your Light!
    Bob Barbour

  132. Kim Donald says:

    Thank you for this! I recently returned to photography after a long break and was never anything more than a motivated amateur. It’s nice to hear this advice, and it sparks my curiousity to learn again!

  133. […] past year. I went back to re-read Bill’s post and was moved to include it here today, also. Read it by clicking here and I guarantee you it will improve your shooting during 2013 and add to your enjoyment of this life […]

  134. Drema Morgan says:

    Love your outlook and the challenge to all of us to love what you do and strive to be better everyday!

  135. Joe Rone says:

    Hope you are well. I am a Oly shooter that had the pleasure of supper with you and your family a few years ago at Grandfather. Thanks for the article. I really needed some inspiration today. Take care and I hope to see you on the mountain sometime. Joe

  136. What an inspiring, wonderful, articulate article. So powerful and meaningful. Thank you for posting.

  137. Vincent Noir says:

    This post was an inspiration. Whenever I felt lost, I always reread this whenever and wherever.

    Thank you for this wonderful reading you have written.

  138. Ralph Mendoza says:

    A wonderful read. Very inspiring

  139. Kristopher says:

    A person necessarily help to make severely posts I’d state. That is the very first time I frequented your web page and so far? I amazed with the research you made to make this actual submit incredible. Great activity!

  140. Pat says:

    Wonderful, inspiring post!

  141. Great post gave me some food for thought.
    I don’t use the word word, instead I always call it play instead.

  142. […] Bill had some great answer to why you should bother, and if you didn’t read the post yet go Here […]

  143. […] ♦ I think as macro photographers we all have to occasionally wrestle with the black bug of depression. Why do we continue with this often frustrating hobby/business when the world seems to be saturated with excellent bug photography? For myself, I go through this regularly. The best remedy: I recall my original motivation: bugs are fascinating! Then I go out and observe and photograph more bugs! For another perspective on photographic image overload (newly coined by me – let’s call it ‘PIO’), see: Why Bother?  […]

  144. Jamie Buchanan says:

    I recently started watching and reading a lot of Scott Kelby’s podcasts. Obviously he has spoken highly of your work so I checked out your website. I had no idea you were from Kentucky. Thanks for the great post, for your vulnerability, and for sharing your testimony on your site. Truly inspiring!

  145. I know this post is a year old but I found it when I needed to read it. I have followed you for years and still to this day you are at the top of my list for favorite photographers… right along with John Shaw.

    Thanks agian for this post. I have tried for far too long to shoot what people would pay me for rather than to shoot what I wanted to shoot. I think it is time to start shooting what I love even if the industry is saturated with landscape photographers.

    God Bless!

  146. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your
    website is magnificent, let alone the content!

  147. […] So many photographs and photographers out there which are better than me?" you may ask yourself… Here are the reasons why YOU should bother! After reading the above it just motivated me even more to […]

  148. Bruce says:

    Thank you Mike Moats for sharing this a second time. This is such a great attitude mental approach to take, particularly in this age of limited possibilities with digital capture and manipulations.

    Well Said!


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  150. Peter Shikli says:

    The “why bother” question has been with me for some time, and your insights helped me. Not being a religious person, I nonetheless found a spiritual answer to the question. Because I’m also a writer, I put a few words together about that at http://shikli.com/blog/photography.htm. Given your background, I’d be curious what you thought of that.

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  153. Nedra says:

    Very good advice! Thanks

  154. […] to emphasize your subject – How to improve your street photography – Learn to isolate – Why bother? This blog by Bill Fortney has been around for a while now. Mike Moats reposted it and I am passing […]