Are You Taking Or Are You Making?
Ansel Adams Quote
So, a funny thing happens every time I write about photography which is like on a daily basis. I make it a point to write Make Photographs and not Take Photographs because well, that’s what it actually is. A photo is made.
But the spelling checker on my laptop keeps highlighting the word Make wanting me to correct it to Take. It annoys me because it’s wrong on so many levels and I always ignore the suggestion.
Apparently, in the English language, it is ingrained that we Take a Photograph and not Make it.
That’s why this month’s quote is the famous Ansel Adams Quote because, as always, he had it right.
“You Don’t Take A Photograph, You Make It.”
Who was Ansel Adams?
Ansel Adams was a landscape photographer famous for his majestic images of the American West. He lived from 1902 till 1984. Adams developed the Zone system, an elaborate system to expose black and white negatives for the widest tonal range in his landscape photography.
This is the second Ansel Adams Quote I’m discussing. You can find the first one here: Do You Think We See The Same?
Change from Taking to Making
Photography is and should always be a creative act. That is if you want a little more then a simple registration of an occurrence. Since you’re on this page I’m going to assume that that’s what you want for your photographs. You want them to be more than a form of registring the events of your life.
To me, my camera is my ally in transforming what I see and feel into compelling and strong images. There’s no better feeling than seeing my photographs reflect what I wanted to capture. And I could never do that by Taking Photos.
When you change from Taking to Making you transform the way you Make photos.
Taking a Photo is unintentional, it’s thoughtless and careless.
Making a Photo is the exact opposite. It’s intentional, deliberate and full of attention and awareness.
Taking Photos is snapping away without any consideration for what you’re actually photographing.
Making Photos is being fully present in the moment. Asking yourself what you see and how it makes you feel. And only after that thought process trying to convey that in a photograph.
Composition plays a big part in conveying what you see and how it makes you feel. Click here if you wanna read more about the essential principles of composition in photography
Be Ready To Receive It
That’s one level. The creation part of making photographs. But there’s another level to this quote that I feel is just as important.
I’ve always felt I do not Take a Photo, it is given to me.
Of course, I work hard to make the photo I’m striving for. I decide on my settings, my point of view, the moment I press the shutter and how I interact with what I’m photographing. Let’s say all the things I have a certain level of control over.
And then there is whatever is happening in front of me. These are the things I have no control over whatsoever. I can only observe and anticipate. Open myself up for the magic of the moment and be ready for what’s coming next.
To me, photography is a dance between control and letting go. A wonderful dance. It is during this dance I feel a photo is given to me. Thr photographer’s biggest job is to be ready to receive it. And when I am it’s the best feeling in the world.
Delete the Word!
So let’s delete the word Taking Photographs out of our vocabulary.
You know what? Words matter! From this moment on say, ‘I’m gonna Make some pictures’ and I’m sure your intentions will change. Try it! You might surprise yourself.
If you wanna go deeper into Making Photographs I’m hosting a series of free online photography workshops that will change the way you Make photographs forever. You can join us at 5 Elements in Photography Workshops.
Are you Taking or are you Making? Tell me in the comments!
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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But sometimes we need words to give expression to what we think and feel around a single photograph or photography in its entirety. So I actually feel that pictures and words go hand in hand most of the time. When we see a photo there’s an infinite number of reactions to that single image. We need words to articulate our reaction.
Whenever I feel lost, I pick up my camera and start to photograph. The simple act of picking up my camera in the midst of what feels like chaos creates a little overwhelm free island of time. I’m focused on creating something and when I’m photographing there’s not much else that can enter my mind. It’s what I call the mindful nature of photography and it’s healing.