Are You Making or Taking Your Photographs

Are you making your photographs or simply taking them?

It’s a seemingly very subtle change in vocabulary but when it comes to creative process, they are completely two different frames of mind.

Taking photographs

Taking in the context of shooting photographs implies passiveness and lack of involvement in the process. Taking what’s there – so to speak – act of simply recording what’s there. If you believe that’s how photography should be – recording of the moment then that’s fine. But to me, photography is an expressive art and photographs are not literal but expressions of ourselves.

Making Photographs

Making photograph is a different mindset, in which you are taking active part in the decision making process. You are making something that is meaningful to you. You are consciously and mindfully making decisions that make the photograph.

You are choosing what stays in the frame and what is left out. You are making something that expresses your vision. Like making a piece of music, or making a painting.

To some it may seem like I’m being pedantic and splitting hair over use of language and that’s fine, I am not suggesting this is how everyone should talk about the act of making photographs. But it is a powerful distinction to me and has changed how I approach my photography.

Similarly, do you view or read a photograph? Or I guess the bigger question is, do you want others to simply view or read your photographs? Viewing implies passive activity, but reading implies involvement and interaction between the reader and the photograph.

This idea was first introduced by David duChemin in his brilliant book, Photographically Speaking, A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Photographs who makes a point to refer to those who look at our photographs as readers instead of viewers.

If we remember to make our photographs for people to read them, as opposed to taking photographs so others can see them, I believe that it will make us much better photographers.

Do you agree with my use of language this way? Let me know in comments!

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