Take it or Make it

Take or Make

Taking a picture vs making a picture

When I was growing up, I had always heard the term “taking pictures.” Whenever I would pick up a camera it was with the intent to “take” a picture. When I started researching photography and gear I started to see and hear some photographers reference “making” pictures. This got me thinking, “is there a difference between taking and making a picture?”

The definition of TAKE is:

lay hold of (something) with one’s hands; reach for and hold.

By this account to take a photo would imply someone happens upon a scene and captures, or “lays hold” of it. This would probably best describe what happens with a lot of snapshots. That’s not to say that a snapshot can’t be a great photograph, far from it. This concept implies being in the right place at the right time with a camera to capture an image or scene.

On the other hand, the definition of MAKE is:

form (something) by putting parts together or combining substances; construct; create.

This would require a person to have a concept and put it together or make it happen. This doesn’t mean that it is all the photographer or that luck, chance, or being in the right place at the right time doesn’t play a role in it, but it does mean that the photographer has a vision that he or she is trying to construct.

Well which one do I do? I am an opportunist so when an image presents itself to me I take it. What probably happens most of the time is a little bit of both. I will see a scene that is maybe 60% there and I will work, wait, reposition myself, reposition subjects, change lenses, recompose, put it on a shelf and come back to it later, or do what I need to to make it happen. Probably the least common, although still a part of my shooting repertoire, is when I come up with an idea or concept, usually inspired by something I’ve seen or read, and go out with the intent to make that image. Ultimately, I think the goal of most photographers is to tend to make more photos than take.

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