I’d be rich if I had a nickel every time someone asked, “Could you TAKE my picture?” The reason TAKE is in bold is because I take exception to that word with regards to photography. I much prefer the word MAKE vs. take. A photo is the final product. It’s much more accurate and appropriate to make a work of art as opposed to take a work of art. For instance, a sculptor doesn’t “take” a statue, he “makes” it. A designer doesn’t take a blueprint, he makes it. An oil painter doesn’t take a framed masterpiece, he makes it. So why is the word TAKE relegated to a photographer? To make a photograph implies it’s creative, deserves greater status, and it’s an art piece.
A photograph should be made. A composition gets thought out, therefore, the photo is made. Before the photographer presses the shutter, he or she needs to evaluate the arrangement of elements seen through the viewfinder. Is it chaotic? Are the elements orderly? If it’s chaotic, what can the photographer do to make the composition simpler? You make this happen and change the position from where you currently stand, not take this happen. To make this happen, get to a higher point, squat down to eliminate background distractions or move the subject to a different location. Do more than raise the camera to your eye and press the shutter. Think about where the subject should be placed to make the most dynamic composition.
A photograph should be made. Thought should go into the lighting. The best light occurs at sunrise and sunset when the warm colored sun is low in the sky. It provides modeling, texture and intrigue to the subject. It may even need to be augmented using a flash. So be it. Make the picture, don’t simply take what’s given. If it’s noon, use a diffuser when you work with a small subject to soften the light—make the photo. Don’t just take it and accept the light for what it is. Photograph subjects in the shade. Use the shaded side of a building to provide soft light. Avoid bright highlights and deep shadows that cause unacceptable contrast ratios. Return at a different time of day—so be it. Make it happen!
A photograph should be made. Research the subjects you photograph. Some photographers go with the flow and take what they’re given. I’m a photographer who wants to return from a session maximizing my potential. I prefer to make it happen. If my travels bring me to an unfamiliar area, I research the best locations, the best time of day to be at each spot, the restrictions I may encounter, and other important details. Upon arrival, I apply the rules of good composition and light to make my images. Apply the same concepts to local outings. For instance, when does the light best strike the tallest buildings, when do the ducks that live on the local ponds give birth, what festivals are going on where I may get some great character images, or when does the biggest proliferation of wildflowers bloom? Learn, know and research the important details to make it happen.
From now on, no longer go out and take pictures. Go into the field and make them. Think before you press the shutter. Do more than simply raise the camera to your eye and “click.” Process what can be done to make the scene in the viewfinder before you make the exposure. Go beyond the basics to bring your picture making to the next level.
Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.
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