I used to think my dream was to be a photographer.

Photo of me shooting photos by Adam Shaening-Pokrasso

I used to think my dream was to be a photographer.

Sure, that’s my job, but I’ll let you in on a secret: My dream isn’t to be a photographer anymore.

I used to think I had to be ‘Branden Harvey: The Photographer’. And for a long time, that’s who I was. I invested all my time and energy into shooting new photos, learning from the most talented photographers in the industry, pushing my photos to their limits, talking cameras, etcetera, etcetera. I wanted to be known for shooting the best photos.

And all of this paid off. It’s been my primary source of income for years. I’ve worked with some of the best brands in the world, traveling all over the world. It felt good to be known as a photographer. But none of this lasted forever.

A few years ago, I slowly started falling out of love with photography. I stopped spending my time doing all those things photographers are supposed to do. I stopped caring about pixels and cameras and other photographers. I didn’t feel fulfilled by people praising my work anymore. And all of this confused me.

But at the same time, I was still shooting photos and I loved what I was creating. I just didn’t care as much about photography aspect of my shoots as much I used to. So I started asking myself why this was true. Why was I living in this tension?

Over the course of a few months, I realized my goals were changing. My ultimate goal wasn’t to have all the right gear and know all the right things. That wasn’t fulfilling for me. My ultimate goal wasn’t to shoot the best photos in the world. That wasn’t fulfilling. My ultimate goal wasn’t to be known as a photographer. That wasn’t fulfilling.

Through this whole process, I began to learn that more than anything I want to be a storyteller. I figured out that I am a storyteller. And just saying that feels fulfilling.

My favorite photos I’ve made are the ones that tell a story. My favorite projects I’ve worked on have been about crafting a narrative. I believe stories hold immeasurable power to inspire, change, and encourage humanity. I love telling stories filled with hope, joy justice, and love because I trust that those stories hold the power to change the world.

So I started leaning into this idea of being a storyteller. I didn’t abandon photography. In fact, I started shooting even more than ever before. There was a sense of excitement in what I was doing because I was telling more focused on telling stories. I was telling stories with photography.

I started telling stories for my neighbors in Portland, Oregon, who are living life in a way that inspires me.
I started telling stories for some of the biggest brands out there, helping them create compelling narratives.
I started hopping on planes, trains and rickshaws telling stories for people doing life-changing work around the world.

Soon I started finding more ways to tell stories. Telling stories with a camera was a start but I began to tell stories through writing, social media, consulting, public speaking, and even a podcast.

And you know what? This is all so fulfilling.

Follow my stories on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
See the stories I’ve helped brands and non-profits tell, subscribe to my newsletter, and check out my podcast at brandenharvey.com.