Thoughts on Photography Turning Points

Recently, someone asked my why I have not scuba dived in several years – after having published five books on the underwater environment and heading up the marine conservation organization CEDAM International for 20 years.

The quick/funny answer was, "I did not need, and the world did not need, another picture of a clowfish." A few clowfish, swimming in the Red Sea among the protective tentacles of a sea anemone, are pictured below.

The real reason, I went on to explain, was that I had a turning point. While I was on a scuba diving adventure in Lombok, Indonesia, our group stopped at a school where I talked about protecting the underwater environment. After my talk, I did some magic tricks for the kids in their classroom. After the "magic show," the kids followed me out the main gate, cheering and laughing and jumping and smiling. They would not let me leave!

That was a magical moment for me. The above picture captures that magic. From that moment, I started to turn my attention more and more toward people photography, as well as learning about different culture, beliefs, and so on.

Sure, I sometimes miss scuba diving and some of the underwater close-encounters I've had, such as swimming with this school bus-size whale shark.

But photographing people at events such as the Sister's Meal Festival, where I took this shot, make up for it.

I'd like to hear from you! Did you have a turning point in your photography. Was it an event or perhaps an encounter with another photographer – or even a picture in a book or magazine? You don't have to be a pro to participate.

I know you can respond on twitter and facebook, but if you leave a comment here, everyone (including me) can see your response.

Explore the light – and be prepared for unexpected turning points.