Who Needs Photographers Anymore? Part 3: Our Friends & Families Need Photographers

 This blog is part of a series entitled “Who Needs Photographers Anymore?” where I discuss my opinion on the state of photography—specifically documentary photography. If you haven’t read Part 1 & Part 2, please consider doing so before going any further. 

“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” —Diane Arbus


“Do you carry that with you everywhere?”

“Do you go to bed with that thing around your neck?”

“Do you ever leave the house without that camera??”

I’m used to these sorts of questions.

In a time when everyone has a camera in their pocket—I find them extremely ironic. I want to reply by saying, “Yes, just like the camera phone you carry with you everywhere. Do you go to bed with that?”

I’d bet on it. 

Despite the satirical nature of these comments, I wear them like a badge of honor. In fact, I believe they give credence to the idea that—it’s not about the camera you’re using, it’s about the way you view the world. 

[Everyone has a camera, everyone is a photographer….] has become the phrase angrily uttered by a new generation of photographers hungry for projects & work. All the while, life is happening right in front of their faces.

WAIDWML Book--45
“Life is happening right now—in front of your face.”

It’s true that the landscape of photography has changed with the advent of better & smarter “smart” phones. But what makes a great photograph remains the same. 

Having a camera at all times is not extraordinary. What separates us as photographers from the rest of humanity—is our attention—our ability to see.

I’m ALWAYS looking—I’m always present. I view the world quite literally through the lens of a camera—whether I have one or not. It doesn’t matter if I’m using an iPhone or a 5D MKii—what matters is my perspective & vision.

Sure everyone has a camera—but not everyone has vision.

“Do you go to bed with that thing?”


Ashley sleeps on the floor with the dogs during a bedroom remodel.
Early morning light creates a rippling effect across an unmade bed. 

Developing Your Vision

Great photographs don’t need to happen in a war zone, a far off exotic land, or during a world shaking historical event. Great photographs can be taken in your back yard, at your kids’ sporting event, on the floor of your kitchen, or in your bathroom mirror.

Eliana rifles through a children’s book.

Great photographs are everywhere—you just have to develop the vision to see them.

My dog Margot becomes one with the light on a late evening. 
Ashley reads while Margot—you guessed it, lounges. 

By vision I don’t mean eyesight—I’m speaking of vision that comes from your heart. Vision that is a willingness to open yourself up to the possibility of something magical happening at any moment. Vision drives you to be awake and aware of your surroundings—to see what no one else is willing to see.

“It is important to see what is invisible to others. Perhaps the look of hope or the look of sadness.” —Robert Frank

In my experience, vision is something that’s developed over time. It’s something that we must nourish and grow day by day.

As a documentary photographer—what’s the best way to develop your vision?

Photograph those closest to you.

This should be at the top of your list. How are you going to tell the stories of strangers if you can’t tell the stories of the people you love?

My wife with an extremely happy & drooling niece. 

Develop your photographic vision by documenting the lives of your family & friends. No one is going to see them the way that you do.

Who Needs Photographers Anymore? Part 3: Our Friends & Families Need Photographers

“I am writing this book because we’re all going to die.” — Jack Kerouac

Grandkids decorating great grandma’s grave. 

I’ve taken it upon myself to be the official documentary photographer of——well, everyone around me. But most importantly my family and friends.

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Portrait of my grandma holding a photo of her and her first born son.
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Four generations of hands.
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My grandma’s hands at church. 
A film photo capturing a split second in time of my nephew & niece. 

Photograph what you love” is the cliche most photographers have heard and it reigns true. One of my favorite things to photograph is my wife while she’s cooking, hanging out with our dogs, sleeping, or deep in thought.

This habit has become a great source of joy for me and it’s a way to practice the art of storytelling on a daily basis. These are seemingly mundane moments—but by developing my vision, I can turn our daily routine into a body of work.

My wife making bread.
Our niece crawling for the first time.
My wife Ashley practicing the art of nursing. 
Exploring a new city.
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Onto another adventure. 
Margot & Ashley cuddle on a cool summer evening. 
Ashley dancing at a classmate’s wedding day.
Canon Film-13
Cleaning out our car.
I test out a new film camera as Ashley & Margot share a kiss.
Aunt Ashley & Parker Hicks share an embrace. 

“If you wait, people will forget your camera, and the soul will drift up into view.” — Steve McCurry

The calm before the storm, my friend Julie before singing the National Anthem at a local football game. 
My friend Nick & his daughter Eliana drawing in chalk at a street fair. 
Random moments of happiness. 
Margot caught comfortably situated on the family couch. 
Band practice shenanigans as Mike shreds with a guitar behind his neck. 
Grandpa & Grandson on Father’s Day.
Logan 3 Years Old--6
One of the many times we helped Kelley move this year.
My bro spots me snapping a photo of him talking with Julie. 
My sister giving my dad a hair cut in the back yard of her new house. 
My bro Brent Hickscox looking cool.
Handshakes at a family celebration—grandmother holding grandchild.
Margot sleeping with signature tongue hang out.
Buddy Walk with Julie & the gang.
Ashley chatting with her grandma. 
My sister Jordan & niece Parker Hicks.
Eliana “Signs” for her daddy through the window.
Grandma full of joy as she holds her new grand baby. 
Ashley & classmate Zoe look on as their friend is married. 

Some of my favorite images are photos that I’ve made of friends & family. They may not mean much to an outsider—but they’re priceless to me.

I’ve never gone on a trip or to a family gathering and said to myself—”I wish I wouldn’t have taken so many photos”, it’s always the opposite.

At my brother’s graduation ceremony. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—”The job outlook for photographers is 8 percent decline through 2026.”

We’re all drawn to photography for a myriad of reasons—hopefully making money isn’t one of them.

I’m so sick of feeling like my value as an artist should come from whether or not I’m booking shoots or somehow making a career from taking photographs. Forget about money and accolades—what’s more rewarding than telling your own story and the story of your family & friends through photographs?

Maybe photography isn’t the most promising career path, but I believe it’s still worth pursuing.

New Family Blog--16
A photo of my grandma at the nursing home. 
New Family Blog--17
Four generations of beautiful women. 
Photos of my mom seeing her first grandchild.
Going out to eat as grandmother holds grandson’s hand.

If you consider yourself a photographer—no one is going to capture your closest loved ones the way that you will.

You have the ultimate access. 

“You yourself are unique–you have ways of seeing your world that are unlike those of anyone else–so find ways to more faithfully express that, and your style will emerge.” —David duChemin

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Reflection of my sister.
Documentary Work-20
Family members eating in perplexity. 
Dad bods.
Documentary Work-23
Game winning shot. 
A reflective embrace. 
Wine with friends.
Thoughts exploding. 
“The Browneye”
Documentary Work-15
Ashley having a breakdown on her 30th birthday with Kelley Hicks. 

Our friends & families need photographers. It’s our responsibility to honor them by documenting their lives & telling the stories of the people we love.

Photograph your friends & family—develop your vision.

Have faith that the world is beautiful—and there is something magical happening right now.

This blog series will end with Part 4: The World Needs Photographers

Thank you for reading!



  1. Your image of four generations holding hands is stunning … and poignant. My family are used to the camera now too and it’s wonderful to get those candid images that we can enjoy over the ages!

    Liked by 1 person

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