...do better, we have to know why we're doing what.
I just approached my housemaid with a weird question when she was ironing clothes, "What is the meaning to life while you're ironing the clothes?"
She was baffled, busying with her work on hand and beaming an embarrassed smile.
"There are many answers to this. They are not either correct or wrong. There is no model answer," I expounded to give her some hints, " You may put your answer this way or that. You can have your own thinking."
"Then," she said in an uncertain voice, "is it to make a living?"
I accepted her answer but gave my view that she might put more philosophical substance in her answer. I went on to explain to her that her answer didn't fit in a lot of situations like he meaning of life was while I was taking a photo.
Well, making money could be a good answer.
Everyone can have an unique answer. What's important is that when we don't know why we are doing what we do, chances are that we won't excel in our work, to say the least. We'll be bored of it before we know it. Give a reason to your life, and it will feel blissful short; otherwise, everything just feels excruciatingly long.
This mindset is absolutely applicable to photography. If you don't know why you are shooting what, your photos just lack punch in them. Yes, you may still come up with some keepers, but they are more by luck than by knowledge.
So, the other day when I saw some photographers with 300mm-lens-mounted DSLRs engrossed in shooting some toy car models the size of a backpack, I was curious about the meaning of what they were doing. Did they really know it?
This is not about knowing just the theme of your photos, but a higher scheme of things like: know why you do this theme.
If those photographers could answer it, surely they would not have acted like using a chopping knife to spread butter on a piece of bread – dead wrong!
Photography can be purely for fun. But at the core of it, you have to know why you are doing it. Then you can choose to do it just for fun.
Of course, everyone has an unique answer to this too. They can as well define photography as buying new cameras before figuring out the NR on-off button of their last camera.
(My answer to the question for the housemaid is "to serve".)