Pictures and Photographs

Everyone loves a great image.  A moment of time captured on film or a file.  Many men and women over the years have gone out exploring for that perfect view.  The one that stops people in their tracks and makes them stare. 

Those artists have faded from existence as photography has become every man’s (or woman’s) art.  Anyone can pick up a digital camera, put it on auto, point it and take a picture.  With the right technology, the right skills, any image can be made into art.  And we still call it photography.  The art of photography is dying before our eyes. 

There are some things that cause me to cringe.  There are some things that bring out a side of me that few have seen.  Inside, I go off on people with a fancy camera who don’t know how to take a photograph.  They can take pictures, but there is no art in it.  I am a photography snob. 

There, I said it.  I am a photography snob.

Now, I know some of you are thinking I am a little crazy, but let me explain.  There are many people who call themselves photographers, myself included, though many of them only take pictures, they do not know how to take a photograph. 

Before you go off on me, there is a difference between the two.  Any time you press down the shutter button on a camera, you take a picture.  The difference of a photograph is the effort, the skill and the art of taking said picture.  A photographer knows how to manipulate his camera, through shutter speed, aperture, ISO and focus to frame his or her subject that captures the emotion and the feel of the image. 

If I’ve already lost you or you don’t know what the aperture, shutter speed and ISO does, then you probably don’t know what your camera is capable of nor do you know the essentials of creating a photograph. 

Anyone can walk down the street and see someone or something that catches their attention and take a picture of it.  Any one with a camera can capture that moment in time.  Very few people will study it.  That’s how you can tell who a photographer is.  They frame their image before they even bring the camera up to their eye.  They compose the image like a painting, using their camera like a paintbrush.  Manipulating it to capture the image that they see. 

A photographer can use the simplest camera to capture a photograph, just as easily as if they used the latest, most innovative and expensive camera on the market.  They can do this because they know cameras.  They know how to use cameras to capture the vision that they see. 

Photographers understand light balance, visual balance, compositional balance and emotional balance (or imbalance) as well as the effects of these on the viewer.  They know how to change all of these with the slightest movement and the smallest change in aperture or shutter speed, if not both. 

I get really frustrated with people who take really good pictures, but they have no clue what their camera can do.  I get even more fed up with people who blame their camera for ‘holding them back’. 

“If only I had a better camera, my pictures would turn out better…” 

I don’t believe you.  A photographer is only held back by his own view.  Yes, some cameras have more features, but that does not prevent a photographer from capturing amazing photographs. 

As well as a snob, I am a purist when it comes to photography.  I rarely edit my photographs and pictures.  If I do put them through PhotoShop, I take out the dust marks and crop the image.  If one cannot get the correct colors through manipulating the camera, then it is no longer a photograph, it is a digital image.  A photographer’s tool is his camera, they must know how to use it to the fullest. 

I have known people to take a picture, put it through PhotoShop or Adobe LightRoom or some other program and adjust the colors, the brightness, the contrast, the saturation and then crop it, making it a completely different image all together.  This is not photography, this is digital manipulation.  I know how to do it too, but I choose not to because Photography is an art that is getting lost in the digital age. 

While many scoff at me, saying that what they do on computers is the same thing they do in the darkroom, I refrain comment.  I have worked in the darkroom before.  If you do not get a good photograph to begin with, captured on the film, no amount of work will make it more than a good picture.  The same goes for digital images. 

Photography is the lost art.  There are very few artists that work behind the camera.  While not a professional, I do consider myself a photographer.  In addition to a purist and an artist. 

In conclusion, I do beleive that there is a difference between a photograph and a picture.  There is a difference between those who take pictures and Photographers. 

Maybe it’s just me being a snob or it might just be an overreaction to an add for some bit of software that stated, turn that picture into a photograph, but this little rant has been building up in me for a while and It just took a while to slowly boil over.  Now that it’s done, I feel much better.  Now I want to go on a Photo-Adventure with just me and my camera across the country…

God Bless and PEACE

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2 Comments »

  1. Douglas Lee Scott Said:

    As an armature “photographer” I was a little upset about how you started your post. The more I read, the more I agreed. I started this hobby almost a year ago and I have read books, visited websites, subscribed to magazines, etc to understand and learn the art before I started publically calling myself a photographer. I started building my blog on WordPress but I have not posted anything yet because I don’t want to post any “pedestrian” photos. I want learn more and experience the art and grow as a photographer and not be a poster of vacation photos,etc. Yes, you are a photography snob…good for you!

  2. […] years ago I wrote a rant on the difference between a picture and a photograph, and I continue to stand by  my words.  Anyone can pick up a camera, be it a point-and-shoot or a […]


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