Why I HATE the term "capture" for taking a photo...

Started Apr 21, 2013 | Discussions thread
SirLataxe Veteran Member • Posts: 3,893
Re: Why I HATE the term "capture" for taking a photo...

JulesJ wrote:

Biggs23 wrote:

Dreemer wrote:

Biggs23 wrote:

Actually, creation is horribly inaccurate. A photographer creates nothing. The scene already exists, the photons of lights reflected off the scene already exist, the camera already exists, etc. Even the editing of an image isn't creation, it's manipulation of information that already exists.

I’d have to disagree with that, the scene doesn’t exist, the objects exist and are bathed in radiation but no image exists until a lens is introduced, therefore the lens/camera creates the image.

Alright. But in any case the photographer doesn't create the image, the camera does. We may manipulate the camera but we don't actually 'create' anything. Actually, at a base level, nothing is ever created or destroyed anymore, but that may be a different discussion.

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Any opinions I express are my own and do not represent DPReview.

So Biggs, you'd say a sculpturer doesn't create his sculpture but the tools he uses does? A carpenter doesn't create a work, but his chisels and saws do instead.


Photog lads are always dragging out the false analogies with various true artists or craftsmen.  I think you know quite well that unformed stone & timber (the materials of sculpture & cabinetmaking) are not the same as the photog's material (already designed & made natural or man-made stuff that is merely copied with an automated machine, the camera).

And if you want an analogous tool to a camera it would be less a chisel or a saw and more a CNC machine.  Both the CNC tool and the camera perform highly automated and pre-programmed operations, requiring the operator to merely push a go-button.

The photographer's job is even easier than that of the CNC operator, since the feedstock of photography is the already-arranged photons reflected from the already-made subject-matter of the pic.  The CNC operator & his machine have to actually apply a design to unformed material; a photographer does not.

Of course, photogs will always turn to the "importance" of the viewfinder composition, the chosen moment and even their fiddling with the exposure controls.  Yes, these require a bit of knowledge and skill - but not much.  I can tell you from personal experience that it takes an enormous amount more knowledge and skill to make good furniture or play a guitar well.  (And I imagine that sculpting in stone is just as demanding).


Why do so many photographers want to make so much out of their photographic endeavours?  Personally I am happy to admit that my images take just a little skill and are not art, since I am copying, not remaking, reality.  Photography is a rather easy craft not unlike painting by numbers (which can also be done well or badly; and is also a 2D copy of something already designed).

Of course, there are graphic artists who may use great skill and insight to transform and transcend the normal realities via manipulation of photographic imagery.  But that is graphic art, not photography.  Few photographers do this.  In fact, one of the major tenets of photography is that it accurately represent what is imaged.

There are others who are artists at arranging a scene or a model for photographic recording.  The art is not in the shutter-pressing but in the stage-dressing & lighting - which would be just as artistic without someone pointing & clicking a camera at it.

Let's face it - photography is like driving a car: a mundane and everyday skill largely performed by a pre-programmed machine.  One may be a better or worse driver; one may go to a boring "here" rather than an exciting "there"; but it is no art and nothing special to do the driving.


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