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Do you "Take" or "Make" a Picture?

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by PhotoEcosse, Nov 21, 2015.

  1. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I'll start a new thread in this more appropriate section of the Forum because the discussion started in a thread about the content of bags.

    Briefly, it is about whether there is any difference between "taking" a picture and "making" a picture.

    It started when Roger H. wrote:

    I replied:

    Roger responded:


    So, the end of the week has arrived (although next week's AP has not), so here are the two pictures to which I referred:

    Firstly, the picture I "took". A couple of months ago I was standing on the observation platform of a railway carriage on a train stopped at a station in Sri Lanka when another train drew up alongside. I had a camera in my hand, so I took this photo quickly before the trains moved on.

    [​IMG]

    Then, when I got home and let Lightroom import my raw files on to my PC, I looked through my photographs and, as I often do, looked at some to see if there might be a picture within a picture.

    In this case there was, so here is the picture that I "made":

    [​IMG]

    I do think that the above pictures provide examples of one that was "taken" and one that was "made" and that there is a conceptual and qualitative difference between the two words in this context.

    Eric
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  2. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Do I take or make a picture?

    Yes.
     
  3. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I absolutely despise the use of the word "make" in this context, it makes my skin crawl, and I think it's the absolute height of pomposity. Well, you did ask. ;)
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Eric,

    Sorry, you have completely failed to convince me.

    You took a picture. You cropped it. Where is the "making" in this?

    Then you converted it to B+W. Actually I prefer the colour. Still, I don't see any "making". Would it have been less "made" if it had stayed in colour?

    How much do you have to do before a "taken" picture is converted to a "made" picture? What does the distinction actually mean?

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  5. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I did, indeed, ask.

    What I would like is a wee explanation of why you think that using the word "make" infers any degree of pomposity.

    One takes the raw (no pun intended) ingredients and "makes" something from them. Whether those ingredients are the flour, sugar and fat of a recipé, the timber and nails of a roof truss or the component parts of a picture (in this case, raw file, imagination, perception and computer software) does not, I suggest, alter the basic action of making something that is quite different from the original materials.

    Eric
     
  6. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Because you're not doing. You're taking a picture. In your case, you've simply chosen to focus on a smaller part of the overall image - you've not made anything at all, the raw ingredients are unchanged, you've just not used all of them. If you're arranging the subject, arguably it makes sense (but still sounds terrible), but if you're simply composing, what could possibly be more pompous?
    And linguistically, it just sounds completely ghastly to me.
     
  7. Gezza

    Gezza Well-Known Member

    I think where the implied pomposity comes is when trying to differentiate between whether people take or make a picture there is some hint that merely taking a photograph doesn't involve isn't the skill, foresight, artistic intent or whatever that `making` a picture involves.
     
  8. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    That's OK, Roger. I promised to try.

    There is, actually, a lot more involved in the transition from the "taken" photo to the "made" image than you suggest.

    Just one little example - to my mind, the presence of the wee girl's mother (for I assume it is she) behind her in the carriage was a distraction. She had to disappear. The mono conversion and subsequent toning was desirable because, having blacked out the interior of the carriage, it looked unnatural in colour when the bodywork of the carriage was clearly illuminated by daylight.

    But these are, of course, subjective personal opinions - I merely suggest that it is the application of those subjective personal opinions that takes it over the boundary from "taken" to "made".

    Would you prefer the word "created" rather than "made"? (I have a feeling that I should not have asked that!)

    Eric
     
  9. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I think there is room to argue for "making" where someone has sought a composition that isn't obvious. Picturing trees in woods for example is imho very difficult. Editing per se, even if it substantially changes the image, isn't making.
     
  10. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Yet, in another thread recently, the same protagonists were discussing "creativity".

    According to our old friend Roget, "create" and "make" are full synonyms. So being creative demands that something is made.

    For me, "taking" a photograph ends at the moment of pressing the shutter. That is not to belittle the skills involved up to that point - deciding upon exposure parameters, selecting a focal length of lens, framing the shot in the viewfinder............. But, once the button is pressed, the picture has been taken.

    Anything creative done to the image after that point is no longer part of taking the picture. So it must be moving into the realm of making.

    There is an old saying, "If you are in a hole, stop digging!". I have rarely heeded that advice so, Australia here I come.

    Try this one. I don't like the picture as much as the Girl on the Train but it may better illustrate the distinction I am trying to define:

    Here is a picture wot I took:

    [​IMG]

    ...and here is another picture wot I took:

    [​IMG]

    Finally, here is the picture wot I made from the two wot I took:

    [​IMG]

    Eric
     
  11. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    ......and next week's AP has just dropped through the letterbox.

    The Girl on the Train did not do very well in APOY. Only 22nd place with 29 points.
     
  12. Gezza

    Gezza Well-Known Member

    In the original post you asked whether there was a difference between taking and making a picture.. Now you are talking about when you have taken the picture how much you do to `make` the end result. I think peoples main objection was the inference that some people merely take them whereas you make them.
    You also said that in taking pictures there were just compositional and technical decisions to be made and the art of making them comes afterwards. Could it not also be creative artistic vision used in taking them and afterwards just the craft skills needed to reach that vision.
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Eric,

    Instead of "created" or "made" why not try "rescued"? I present this argument not as a personal attack but to illustrate how a different narrative can justify any phraseology you like:

    You started out with the wrong medium, colour, and a hopelessly sloppy composition, so you had to rescue it via heavy cropping, a mono conversion and local burning. In other words, you were digging yourself out from your own failures. How much rescuing would it have needed if you'd framed it right and shot it on black and white film?

    I'll be even harsher than Nick: "made" is pretentious as well as pompous. Maybe you don't mean it the way it's normally used; maybe I've always misunderstood it; but it is often used to imply that the photographer who "makes" a picture is somehow more skilled than someone who merely "takes" a picture. This is clearly indefensible, because it would imply that (for example) Cartier-Bresson's "Rue Mouffetard" (the boy with the wine bottles) was an inferior picture because it was only "taken" and not "made".

    If you have to bugger about with the picture after you have taken it, then in many cases this is simply proof that you didn't take it right in the first place. Of course this always is a matter of degree: cropping, dodging, burning and adjusting contrast were always regarded as "straight" printing, and if you visualized what you were going to do with the picture afterwards (burning in the sky, whatever) that is pre-planned too, but the basic question is simple (and unanswerable). At what point does a "taken" picture become one that is "made?"

    Right now, Frances is over in Martaizé with her exhibition of hand-coloured pictures, Abbatu par Sort, Shattered by Fate. It was inspired by the poem "The Ruin", written about 1300 years ago: see http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/sechard/oeruin.htm . She made the exhibition, sure; but it is composed of pictures she took; printed on Ilford Art 300 Multigrade; and then hand-coloured. There is a lot more "making" in this than in the example you gave, but she'd still never use the term "making" for the reasons I've just given.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  14. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Indeed, "pretentious" is a far better word.
     
  15. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Absolutely.

    No doubt about that. It can certainly work both ways.

    In the first example that I gave, the original was merely a "grab shot" with no artistic vision whatsoever.

    In the second example there was a bit of both. The picture of the BoB Memorial in London was taken specifically to use in a composite (although, at the time of taking, I had no idea about how it might be used. That's what I do a lot of the time - take pictures of "elements" that might then find their way into a creative composition.) The picture of the model was taken with a view to use on its own and, only later, used in the composite.

    I think that your inference that one approach to photography is superior to another is rather like suggesting that sculpture is superior to painting or novels are superior to poetry.

    Eric
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  16. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Eric,

    Well, first I like the composite picture much better, but that's not quite the same as mining the railway scene for the first picture, is it?

    Second, there is rarely any such thing as a "full synonym". Some words are sometimes synonymous in some contexts, but you cannot seriously believe that "make" and "create" always mean exactly the same thing.

    I'll suggest two more words I think are more useful word: "interpret" and "modify". You take a picture: you emphasize some bits, try to hide others, and indeed chop bits off entirely. But this is interpreting or at most modifying the picture you have already taken: it is not "making".

    Of course we can all have our own private vocabularies. It's just that in this case "taking" and "making" don't add anything to a much simpler analysis, which is that pictures fall into three categories: good, bad, and mediocre, now matter how they are "taken" or "made".

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  17. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I can't disagree with that, Roger, nor would I want to.

    But it does make me wonder why you seem to spend so much energy quibbling about the private vocabularies of others. Are you suggesting that your private vocabulary is superior to mine? If you were less adversarial in your approach, then we might all gain more from our discussions.

    Eric
     
  18. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Actually there very often is. In English probably more than in any other language. The fact that our language is a composite of so many roots does mean that we frequently have several words that mean exactly the same in common usage. One word from the Anglo-saxon, one from the Franco-Latin, etc.

    Eric
     
  19. Gezza

    Gezza Well-Known Member

    Eric
    Im sorry but I made no such inference. I was just suggesting it can be looked at either way and neither is necessarily correct.
     
  20. frank1

    frank1 Well-Known Member

    A touch more contrast would make this a great picture. If only you lost the crisp packet by her foot that would a great image make.

    Great photos are taken by someone that made the effort to capture them.
     

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