The significance of photography

"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." ~ Ansel Adams

By In Photography

Photos of significance

Ever since I’ve been taking photographs, I’ve wanted to take photos that are of some significance. Be it the street photos that people want to put up on their walls, like Henri Cartier Bresson, Elliot Erwitt, really telling a story, like Steve McCurry and Don McCullin, or iconic portraits like Helmut Newton or Annie Leibovitz.


I wanted to be famous

I always had the drive to be seen. This probably stems from my childhood. As a young kid, I wanted to be famous. A rock star. A celebrity. Whatever it was, it had to be famous. This probably was my young brain’s answer to being bullied and let down by people. Yes, I was the skinny, red-haired, smarter-than-thou kid everybody loves to hate. Maybe not hate, but, well, I didn’t fit in very well with the popular kids.

A group photo of a family at Landschaftspark Duisburg

Don’t get me wrong, I had some friends, but I felt the stares and the stings of people calling me names on more than one occasion. I even got turned down at the door after being invited to a swimming party with the popular kids once. Not nice, but hey, they were kids, they didn’t know any better.

A couple embracing and smiling

Upside of all this was, that I had a vivid imagination, and could be alone, with myself, very well from a young age. A fact that has helped me through life in my adulthood on more than one occasion as well! What do they say: Everything (quote invoegen)

But, still, something manifested in me. I wanted to show the world that I was worth the attention and love. And my way there was, I wanted to be famous! And how to achieve that? Well, here’s what I tried:


During my adolescent years, and way into my twenties, I played in several bands, some with moderate success, and some with no success at all. But I kept trying. I played several gigs a year all over Europe, and we had a blast doing so. But it was at times also strenuous, draining. Being in a band is give and take, and with my self-pertained individualistic view on life, that wasn’t always easy.


So I decided to quit my music career, and pick up a camera again. I mean, that’s something you can do on your own, right? It was perfect for me. Being all by myself, and shooting, doing whatever I want. But, there’s a catch!

I soon found out that there were many cool people that have the same individualist hobby as me. Really cool people. I wouldn’t need to meet with people if I didn’t want to, but on most occasions, I decided to do so. It was an individualist bubble kinda thing. People I could relate to, who could relate to me, heck, some of my best friends came from my individualist hobby. So in a way, photography became a big part of my life, and of the people around me. Talk about significance!

So what does this have to do with taking significant photos like Bresson, Newton, McCullin, and the likes? Well, the “struggle” for fame was still there. For a while. Now, I see things differently.

A man in his garden, enjoying a glass of wine

Real significance

Last year, I had the pleasure to shoot some people photography. Portraits. Family portraits. Not exactly what you’d think an aspiring art/street/documentary photographer would like to do. Still, I did it. And I found that I can make people happy. With photos of themselves and their families, loved ones, or even cars.

A couple at their 50th wedding anniversary

In the last year, my photos have been put up on walls, where families see them every day, one of my photos made it onto a wedding invitation, and one even onto an obituary card. The latter is of course a sad story, but my photo being used in such a way, as a memory, is really an honor for me, just as all the other occasions.

A family group photo at Landschaftspark Duisburg

So, have I reached fame? Fortune? No, I haven’t. But I made photos that are significant memories for people who want them. Which is fine by me. Boy have I matured.

P.S.: I started this article with the intention of writing a bit more about Ansel Adams’ Quote “Twelve significant photos in any one year is a good crop”, which I’ve mentioned before in some articles. This one turned out differently again. My thankful heart for how my life has turned made me do it. Sorry, not sorry.

~ B.B.

Written by Bas

Photographer, traveler, lover of black coffee, red wine and gin & tonic. Wearer of black glasses and a black hat, always a camera in hand, and the occasional writer.
  1. Werner Polwein 02-06-2021

    Fotos und Texte, die bleiben. Kompliment dafür! Werner

    • Bas 03-06-2021

      Werner, danke dir! Ich freue mich für dieses Kompliment, und freue mich darauf irgendwann mal mit dir loszuziehen

  2. Pap en Mam 03-06-2021

    Mooi geschreven Bas en prachtige foto’s. Een ontwikkeling van een zoekend mens met toekomstidealen voor wie de weg niet altijd geplaveid is geweest. En al zoekende ervaren dat niet materialisme, roem en veel geld geluk brengt maar dat het geluk in de kleine dingen zit.Blijf wie je bent. We houden van jou. Liefs😘

    • Bas 03-06-2021

      Dank je pap en mam. inderdaad, de weg is niet altijd geplaveid geweest, dus plavei ik hem zelf waar nodig. Dat alleen al zorgt voor zelfreflectie en introspectie. Wat wederom dan tot dit soort schrijfsels voert. Ik blijf zeker wie ik ben, en ontwikkel daar op door.


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