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  1. #1
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Taking or Making Pictures?

    Philosophic question: generally speaking, I take pictures. I tend to walk through life with a camera, waiting until something catches my eye or causes my brain to itch. I like to then try to discern what it is that made me stop, distill that scene down to its' most basic elements and that is what I take a picture of. This "distilling" can involve filters, use of DOF, choice of film, etc. I see the darkroom as somewhat removed from my picture-taking since while I can try to recreate the image I photographed, I can also reinterpret the idea that I captured in a mirade of ways.

    Lately I have been reading several books, including On Photography by Susan Sontag, several AA technique books written/edited by John Sextant and a book on the photography of Andre Kertsz. One of the ideas that is put forth repeatly is the idea of making pictures, where the emphasis is on control of the image, waiting for the pre-visualized elements to align before firing the shutter.

    So let me ask you, do you take pictures or make pictures? To put another way, do you wait for the decisive moment to occur or do you gather elements in a previsualized way? To be overly simplistic, AA or HCB?

    Thoughts?
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  2. #2
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Taking pix. Snapping pix. Shooting pix. Making the exposure. Whatever you want to call it...but I hold the phrase "making photographs" only for when I am talking about printing. It doesn't seem to describe the act of taking pictures very well to me. I prefer to use it for the art of crafting the print.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  3. #3
    Rick A's Avatar
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    I'm with 2F/2F. I take photos with my cameras, and I make photos in the darkroom.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum

  4. #4
    Vincent Brady's Avatar
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    I consider that I take pictures although I see that expression "make pictures" used a lot nowadays. To me it sounds like a craft whereas I would like to think that I was involve in the pursuit of art. My approach to taking photo's has matured over the years and now I like to think how best I might capture what appeals to me in the picture and even consider how I might present the final image. I like Diane Arbus' expression how pictures seldom turn out exactly as you expect, but usually better or worse than you hoped for.

    Vincent

  5. #5
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    Ah, isn't that John Sexton the editor of the AA books?
    My photographs are made — at the printing stage, and in a literal sense of having captured the essence of the moment, rather than in a snapshot or 'taking' it. Saw an advert in a major retailer for a digital camera that said "this advanced camera will take the best pictures technology is capable of." Right. I see. So now photographers have been rendered superfluous in this game, LOL!
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  6. #6

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    If you put no thought on what you see, just look and snap, then you are taking. If you move your perspective, choose a lens, put thought on the f-stop/speed, frame, or adjust/wait for the elements to re-align you are making a photo. There are many more ways you can affect the shot with your decisions. You need not use all of them. The more creatively you use them, the more 'lucky' your friends will start calling you

  7. #7

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    I make pictures. Why "taking" pictures is such common vernacular has interested me for some time. Making images, visualization to print, sets its roots deep into modernist photography and has been an agreeable philosophy from the beginning of my career. Abigail Solomon-Godeau touches on this subject briefly in her article Art, Photography & Postmodernism when discussing Sherrie Levine's appropriations of Edward Weston's Neil images.. Solomon-Godeau states Levine "takes" her images and likens them to "confiscation" to recapitulate her critique on modernist ideologies.

    Modernism/PoMo aside, to previsualize a print is to make. To appropriate is to take.

  8. #8
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    I think that photography is inherently an act of taking, and that is what makes it unique and special to me. We are not creating images from scratch, as are painters and drawers. We are using light's sculpting of existent things to render our pictures two dimensional. We are using real things, adapting them, arranging them, editing them, and what have you. On top of that, we are doing the entire composition at once, rather than bit by bit, like other arts.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  9. #9
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralnphot View Post
    I'm with 2F/2F. I take photos with my cameras, and I make photos in the darkroom.
    *******

    Out and abouting, sometimes it is just a question of catching the photograph as one would collect butterflies, since one knows ones darkroom technique intuitively..

    Other times it is a question of photographic seeing. Gathering the material on film; rendering it on a negative, and presenting it on a print.

    To me, making or taking is a false dichotomy.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  10. #10
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping for. I told myself a while ago that to progress in my photography, I needed to go from taking to making. Then, I tried to decide what the difference was. I am beginning to believe/suspect that the difference is as DNK alluded: taking is snapping away and hoping for the best; making is deciding on what I want the picture to say. I also think the "making of a photograph" referring to printing alone vs making as a process is a divide created by language, where making can refer to either a physical activity (the actual act of printing) or an intentional/mental activity (i.e. to make up one's mind). In this way, I agree with John, it is somewhat of a false dichotomy.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

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