Has Photography Gone from an Introvert to Extravert Hobby?

Great observation from Guy Tal on the mindset of analogue (or traditional) vs. digital (or modern) photographers:

“It used to be that photography was the favored avocation of introverts, allowing unquestioned solitary time in a darkroom—a private world behind a closed door where magic unfolded in development trays under the eerie glow of a safelight, and where one could be alone with their thoughts, disconnected from society, without having to explain. The photographer then was an eccentric, an alchemist, an observer. Today’s mainstream photographers seem almost the opposite: bold and outspoken and public; no longer experiencing, observing, and reacting, but planning and executing, broadcasting and marketing not only their photographs and thoughts but also their travels, corporate sponsors, and lifestyles, and even their most trivial accomplishments, to the widest audience they can reach.”

Introverts Unite! (just for a while - don't freak out)


Yesterday, I had the pleasure to attend a Q&A with Susan Cain, author of Quiet, my favorite book of 2012, at 37Signals headquarters. The book is about the advantages of the introverted personality in a world geared towards rewarding extraversion.

I have long suspected a majority of my readers are introverts: creative photographers who like to focus on a passion and think deeply within it. I am an extreme introvert, so it’s the point of view I use when writing, and I think I’m in some good company. I often wonder if Ansel Adams among the most introverted of photographers when I hear some of his quotes like this:

“To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, there are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”

There are exceptions, of course. For example, some street and portrait photographers chose their area of focus because it allows for interactions with large numbers of people all day long. I suspect wedding photographers are also largely extraverted.

What strikes me whenever I hear Susan talk or read Susan’s writings, is how many advantages introverts have in creative endeavors. Art is successful, in my mind, when it is unique and unconcerned with the opinion of onlookers. It adds something to the world that wasn’t there before. It, by definition, doesn’t just fit in.

If you find yourself an introverted photographer, surrounded by extraverts, relax. You have a set of skills extraverts in this hobby would kill for. Never let anyone make you believe you are a Lesser Photographer for it. Then, read the book, watch Susan's TED Talk and know you are far from alone.