Darkroom Digest: Exploring the Difference Between Taking Photos and Creating Art

September 17, 2016  •  4 Comments

In this edition of Darkroom Daily Digest, I want to discuss and explore the mindset of "taking" photos versus "creating" photographs.  

It is very common for photographers today to say something like this "I am going to go "shoot" some photos of xyz".  I think if I hear another photographer say they are going to go "shoot" something, I may actually lose my mind... 

I actually heard a guy in a photography related meeting say "I love to shoot babies".  I actually interrupted him during his presentation and I said, "are you sure that you love to shoot babies?".  And, he said, "yes, I love to shoot babies because they are so innocent and my ability to connect with them emotionally really is the key to my photographs".  And I said, "are you really sure that you "LOVE TO SHOOT" babies!!!!  I said this very slowly and exaggerated the "shooting" part and he finally got it.  He said, "oh my gosh!, I had no idea what I was saying".  My mission was accomplished for the day and I felt better!  

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It is this unfortunate phrasing of "shooting" and "taking", that I think is troublesome for me and other artists.  Words are very powerful and we have to be careful what we say and how we use them.  On a subconscious level, it is important to feed our creative minds with the right words.  I hope to raise awareness of these words in context of modern photography and art via this article.  A simple shift in words makes a big difference to the people that we are communicating with and also to our creative subconscious.  Isn't it much better to say "I am going to go create some photographs today of some spring wildflowers?".  In my mind, there is a big difference between taking or shooting and creating.  Spread the word to your fellow photographer by sharing this article and let's raise the awareness of how important our choice of words are when we are describing the art and craft of photography.  

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Andrew Hess(non-registered)
Some go in the darkroom and see what develops! Saw this on a T shirt once.
Hi Tim,
I agree with your arguments. In Denmark we "take" Photos too, but this is the common way to use a camera: you se something you want to "take" with you in your memory - You take Photos of Things. Today I was in the mountains of Crete/Greece. I saw landscapes and situations I wantet to "take with me", and in the same time, I wantet to create some memories, which could transform my mood and my feeling of admiring and appreciation of this experience. Perhaps this happened for the first time that I was so aware of this difference.... Thank you for sharing your thoughts on shooting (no-go!), taking and creating!
I bought my wife a cup with the slogan "I shoot people " over a picture of a camera.
Vidal C.(non-registered)
Hi Tim, and thanks for this intelligent article .
Things are indeed on the subconscious level, or at least on the level of the unsaid. In French (I'm French) we don't shoot, but we definitely take pictures. Sometimes we "pull" photos which is close to "firing" a shot.
I agree with you to say that to take - this predatory approach - is one mindset you can leave with when you take off with your gear. Another is to (in French) "make photos".
the pressure, the inner attitude, how we press th button and our total mindsets are different, depending on whether we make photos (calmly, respectfully, with a search, a longing inside) pr of we shoot. Babies, women or schoolbuses.

Vidal C.
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