Photographers make photos

A painter starts with a blank canvas and paints a scene with their brushes and paints. An author starts out with a blank page and writes a scene with their pen and paper or computer. A photographer starts out with a complete scene, the photographer’s job is to put a frame around that scene and make a photo with the camera to give a sense of order and meaning to what they see. Or do photographers simply just take a photo of what they see?

‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it.’
– Ansel Adams

Is there a difference between ‘taking’ and ‘making’ a photo? Indeed there is. I have thought a lot about taking photos and making photos, this is my conclusion.

To “take a photo” means to make a snap shot without any thought or care given to the photographic process, colour, composition, line, shape, form etc… People who “take photos” don’t care about the end result they just want a record of something, a night out with mates, their restaurant meal, a self portrait. The snap shot might get shared, on Instagram or Facebook or some other social platform, seen a few times then forgotten about for ever. A photo that is taken rarely means anything to anyone except the person taking the photo or a few people close to them like friends or family.

To make a photo is to carefully consider the photographic process, composition, what to include and exclude from the frame, when to release the shutter, and how to process their photos (colour or black and white? Do they need to dodge and burn?), if at all. A photographer is an artist, photography is the medium, the camera is the tool used to make photos. A photographer makes photos because they want to say something and contribute something to society.

A photo that is made is made with thought, care, and careful considereation. A photo that is taken is made without any thought, care or, consideration.


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