Are you a taker or a maker?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Claire Senft, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I know that this forum covers a wide spectrum of photographic thought and practice. That is, perhaps, its best feature. Leave me define my terminology here. A taker is one responding intuitively and grabs a photo as inspired by circumstances. A maker is a person that is given to a more thoughtful approach.

    I do not consider one approach to be better than the other. I think that every photographer on this forum does some of both. Primarily, though, we are one or the other. I am guessing that your decision is based on who you are, how you approach life and what are your areas of interest.

    I am guessing also that the takers are more inclined to use a general method of exposure and development and the makers are more likely to use a more systematic approach. The takers I am conjecturing are more likely to use film in rolls and the makers more likely to use film in sheets.

    I will start off. I consider myself to be a maker. I use a 35mm camera in a manner that may well offend Oscar Barnack's ghost. My primary interest is in scenic, nature and still life. I am inclined to think that all tripods are too damned light.

    Now it is your turn.
     
  2. mark

    mark Member

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    Good thread

    Well I am a thoughtful taker, I guess. I do not believe I make photographs. I find them. SOmthing catches my eye and I wander around it until I find what cought me. So, I take photographs because I use that moment that caught my eye as the place to start thinking. Calling myself a taker maker would just sound silly :smile: I do use a general way of exposing that works for me in my neck of the woods, but nothng special. I rarely shoot anything without a tripod. Unless it is my very quick son. I use roll and sheet and am comfortable in each environment. In fact I noticed that I work in the same mind set with both. I can't see the purpose of shooting a whole roll of film on one thing, except my son of course.
     
  3. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I make an effort to be both, actually, depending on the image, circumstance, etc. Sometimes I like to "interpret" a scene, "making" it into the fantasy I might see in my mind. At other times, I like to "document" the scene, object, or whatever - trying to tell its story. Studio work, however, is almost exclusively "make" in nature, and usually well-planned and orchestrated in advance.
     
  4. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    That would depend upon the subject matter me thinks.

    If I'm out street shooting or reportage, then when I see a capture developing (excuse the pun) before my eyes, then I wait until I think the moment has arrived and take the shot.

    If I'm working with a model, my cat or my dog in action (realised I didn't have any pictures until she was last ill and she's 91 in dog years) I either set up the shot or set up the situation and let it evolve into a shot.

    I don't think any of my pictures are taken without thought, even if the thought window is only 2 or 3 seconds.
     
  5. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've always felt that 'taking' and 'shooting' were unfortunate words for photography. I shoot 35mm and medium format rangefinder and rarely use a tripod. That said, I am still deliberately looking for photographs. The image itself may take 1/60th of a second or less to be recorded on the film, but I'm always observing the world around me for photographs to be made. Even when I don't have the camera with me. Whether you choose to shoot "from the hip" or set up a view camera with a tripod, you should always consider yourself engaged in a creative process.

    2 cents
     
  6. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Thanks for starting this thread, as this is something I have been giving a lot of though to lately. Many of my favorite pictures have been "taken" on the fly. Something catches my eye and I shoot it. My large format work is much more in the mode of making, and I don't have as many favorites in that format. But, my favorite image I have was "made" in 4x5. Many others I think are good as well, it just seems like I have a bunch that I thought would be good that aren't that were shot on 4x5. I also have a bunch of weak images I have "taken", but I am not generally bothered by those since I didn't expect much from them.

    The one thing I have noticed is I need to be in the right mood to make either method work for me. This is why I use different formats - I just need to choose the right one for my mood.
     
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  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Claire

    I consider myself a maker rather than taker.
    When I walk around with a camera trying to find images I am never happy with the results.
    When I plan a shoot, from location , camera , film choice bla bla bla, I am generally happier with the results.
    A lot of my work revolves around printing processes that I use, and my projects are thought about endlessley in the darkroom while fliping prints.
    I am looking for an image alreadly planted in my thick head and I know it as soon as I see it . the photographing side of my life is very quick compared to the final print execution.
     
  8. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    I guess my definition is a little different from yours. I would consider "taking" as capturing something as it is, without modifying it at the source. Thus, my 4x5 landscape shots on the tripod are generally images that I take.

    If I modify the image at the source, either with lighting, creative filtering, or active construction of a scene, then I consider that I am making an image. For example, if I spray a flower with a mister and reflect some light into shadow areas before I shoot a macro shot, I consider that I "made" the image. Similarly, if I use a green filter on a landscape to unusually adjust image tones, I consider that I "made" the image.

    If I merely use a correcting filter (for example, to improve contrast or darken the sky) I still consider that "taking" an image - adjusting the capture to better reflect what I perceive as accuracy of the source image.

    For me, any posed portrait, lit naturally or artificially, and any arranged still life, would be a "made" scene. Candid street shots for me are all "taken".

    Thus in my definition, I do both, but I think I "take" more than "make".

    -chuck
     
  9. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I agree with this.

    That being said, what is you're avatar. Some may say that is taken but I think it was made, if you believe the witnesses.

    Michael
     
  10. Wally H

    Wally H Member

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    In making exposures on film, by the definition started with in this thread, I do both... However, almost always I finish the image by some sort of darkroom manipulation rather than a straight exposure and development process... I don't approach a print with the idea of rendering the scene as it was... Considering this, almost all of my work is made, regardless of film exposure approach...
     
  11. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    In fact, the common (erroneous) myth is that it was staged. Read the excellent book, "Flags of our Fathers" to get the real scoop.

    Joe Rosenthal, the AP photographer, did not stage this shot, contrary to popular belief. There was an earlier shot, taken by a Marine photographer, that was indeed staged. If you google search on "Iwo Jima flag photo" (which is how I found this image, which was posted on the Wikipedia), you will also see one that has a fully raised flag with a soldier holding a gun in the foreground. That one was staged, and is not the same flag as the famous one in my avatar.

    What happened is this: After securing Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, a platoon of Marines and a Marine photographer hiked to the top of the mountain to clear it of any further resistance, and took a US flag from their company with them. When they reached the top, with no resistance, they raised this flag. The result was the staged "Marine" photo.

    The flag was visible all over the island. The General in charge of the operation was on shore and saw it. He told the company commander he wanted that flag when the battle was over. This pissed off the company commander, who got another flag (a larger one) and ordered the platoon back up to raise this new, larger flag for the General (without the General's knowledge). The company commander ordered the original flag locked in the company's safe.

    This second ascent was accompanied by Joe Rosenthal. He stood to the side of the platoon as they prepared to raise the new flag, while the old one was being lowered. (There is another Marine Corps photo of the old flag being lowered while the new one is being raised.)

    The only "staging" Rosenthal did was to pile up some rocks to give himself a little additional height.

    Joe was temporarily distracted as he turned to make sure he was not in the way of a third cinema photographer who had accompanied the group up on this ascent. As he turned back to the Marines, they were already beginning to raise the new flag. He quickly turned and aimed his camera in the general direction of the flag and triggered the shutter.

    As Joe describes it, he did not even realize he had captured this shot until it appeared on the front page of the New York Times. To him it was just one more photo in the batch of unprocessed film he sent back. He had no idea the photo even came out, because he didn't carefully aim or focus.

    It is probably the most famous photograph of all time, and was taken almost by accident.

    Ironically, this flag raising did not mark the end of the Iwo Jima battle, but the beginning. Only three of the men in that photo survived the remaining fight for the island. The company commander who ordered the original flag saved was also killed by enemy fire on Iwo Jima. More men died after that flag was raised than before.

    -chuck
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i do a little of both.
     
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  13. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Definitely Both.
    The Yin and Yang of Photography. When Studio and View camera take me too far one way, A sunny day in the Park and my Lomo balance me out.
     
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  15. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    "Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don't."

    After shooting with 35mm for about 25 years, I quickly progressed through 6x7, 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 and back to 5x7. I now shoot 3 formats interchangably: 35mm, 6x4.5, and 5x7. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Over the last year, I've primarily shot color neg with the 35 (this from an old Leica RF guy!), tri-x 320 in the medium format and Tri-x 320 in 5x7. I feel that B&W needs a larger neg (I print to 6x9 inches in medium format) than 35mm while color neg film shot on 35mm holds up well about to about 8x12.

    Looking critically at my negatives I'd have to say that my view camera stuff looks like a poor imitation of of good large format stuff done by others. The exception is the pictures I take of people with my 5x7. Those I like a lot. When all goes well, I have an excellent image (emotionally) that holds up well technically to 10x13.

    On the balance, though, I'm more of a taker and find myself gravitating back to f1.4 and f2 lenses, sometimes with 800 speed film for the people taking opportunities they provide.
     
  16. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I take'm then I makes'm
     
  17. Ornello

    Ornello Inactive

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    I combine those elements. I go out and situate myself to make the taking possible.
     
  18. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    I'd have to say a combination of both. There are times (and assignments too) where it's "taking", but I much prefer when it's "making". Portraiture - at least "formal" portraiture, for me is almost always "making". I get lucky sometimes and get a great from-the-hip portrait which could only be described as "taking", but those are few and far between...
     
  19. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Maybe "give and Take"? I agree that it is an unfortunate term. After all a painter does not go out and take a painting. If they did they would go to jail. Shooting for myself is like fishing. I can bait my hook and and toss myself into the light pool. I don't land a fish very often and the big even less often. But when it happens I know I've given myself to the moment which allows me to take what I want from the moment and leave the rest. Commercially it goes both ways. Sometimes they want something really specific and other times they just let me loose to capture an idea. I'm not sure what camp this puts my stuff in but I think it is probaly both edging towards the make side.
     
  20. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    I aim to make, but I often take.

    Once I have the trannies in hand, I then usually make. (Making the exposure is usually only half the job done ....).
     
  21. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    I have just recently learned to be both. To me it depends what I shoot. When I shoot street scenes, landscapes, just things, I'm more of a taker. If I'm in a studio like setting - even on location, I'm definitely a maker.

    Art.
     
  22. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I make art by taking photographs
     
  23. Glenn Mathison

    Glenn Mathison Member

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    Used to be mostly a taker, probably accentuated the last 4 years with two small boys. They move so darn fast...

    Met up with a fellow APUGGER in Sydney recently who shoots 8x12 ULF and sometimes 2hr exposures. Now that was some scary stuff to mess with my head.

    Two weekends ago, went out and worked seriously at making images. Now one of those images is going out in my first print exchange on APUG.

    So I'm working to get better at making, but I still love the sometimes unexpected results of taking...

    Glenn
     
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  24. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Depends upon my mood

    Like many here, I shoot both 35mm and MF. I like 35mm insofar as sometimes it gives me the speed and flexiblity to make quick shots. MF slows me down and I tend to fuss over shots and take my time.

    Just my $0.02

    Kent
     
  25. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    Currently I am a taker. I have done some making and plan on expanding that part more in the future. I have done Very Little studio shoots and just Slightly more portrait work. I believe portraits would fall under the "make" catagory? All that posing and setting of lights and "would this background look better than that one"...
    The "made" shots I have are all macro I did at home on the breakfast nook in the kitchen
     
  26. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I do both. I don't think they are exclusive of each other.

    I am also a sinner and a grinner at times. In the past I found that sinning usually involved a lot of grinning.

    I was also a smoker and a toker at one time, which often involved a lot of midnight joking.