Taking vs. Making

This post is a continuation of my train of thought from the last post "The picture taker and the photographer." The idea that I was trying to drive home between those two titles was the line of thought behind a person and their camera. I'd like to touch on that just a little bit more. Let's say for instance, that in your mind and your craft, you've surpassed the "picture taker." The standard blurry, ill-framed vacation photographs have turned into a series of landscapes or portraits. In your head, the ideas of making and taking are wrestling back and forth. 

So first, the idea of taking. I think of taking as the Snap Chat approach to photography. There isn't much thought, maybe two or three are taken to get the best look (probably a filter or two), and its gone just as quick as it was there. Forgotten and lost in the cyber world of floating digital images. I do think that many photographs have to simply be taken in order to get to a point of making a photograph but some people get stuck in the appreciation and social media love they get from everything they take. It becomes comfortable but your craft ceases to differ and progress. This is easy to understand, because making a photograph can be terrifying as all hell. It's your thoughts, emotion and view of this world being shown to someone else and if you're not your harshest critic, someone else will be. The idea of someone not liking your photograph is detrimental, unless you simply just don't give a shit and either have a massive God complex or are the best photographer in the world. Deep down we all care about how our images and work will be received by our peers. 

Now we'll get into the idea of making. For some, making a photograph consists of hours of planning and thinking about the absolute best and most creative way to portray a feeling or to tell a story. They make a list of potential ideas, different angles and subject matter. Ponder it some more, then finally go and shoot it. For some, this is the best way to communicate the ideas in their head...personally, I think that would be exhausting, however Rob would heavily disagree with me. 

For me, I like to shoot a little more on the fly. Don't get me wrong, there is still some pre-shoot conceptualization that goes into a scheduled shoot but I love seeing how things play out while at the location. To me, a little bit of surprise and change makes it more exciting and challenging and in the end you can get a much more rewarding photograph. This is why I love street photography. If a creative can master the art (and mastery is another completely separate idea to be further touched on) of street photography, they are completely aware of what is going on around them. They are able to analyze what is and what is not important to include in the frame, they see the moment and they snap the shutter. That thought process I just touched on is compressed into seconds, after those seconds pass, there is no way you can truly and organically re-create that scene. This is probably why there are more landscape photogs than street photogs... it's a lot easier. When you truly make a photograph, it is something that can be remembered and will hit home to your audience, something about it will resonate with more than just you or your shooting buddy. 

Here's a Labovtiz school of Business inspired analogy for taking vs making. Imagine there are two people who want to start a clothing brand. One person bulk orders a bunch of radical looking tshirts and sells them via word of mouth, they make a bit of cash then forget about it cause it was really hard to keep going with demand, production and all the other fun things that go with starting a business. They stop, the brand dies and it is forgotten (taking). On the other hand you have a kid who weighs the cost a benefit of a bulk order vs ordering as demand comes in. They consistently post to social media and create a website, a message is created and people start to believe in the brand. Eventually, bulk ordering is the only way to keep up with demand, new product lines are thought up and business continues to grow (making). 

Anyway, those are my thoughts...I've gotta scoot to class now. Till next time, cheers! 



The picture taker and the photographer

A while back, my good friend Braden and I were out and about with our cameras and decided to grab a drink at a local watering hole. We sat and chatted about everything and nothing all at the same time, it was a great ending to an eventful day. As the beer flowed, eventually the appetizer came and it (not us) caught the attention of a somewhat familiar face sitting at the table next to us. She looked at me and said "Hey you're Taylor, right? The picture taker?" To be honest, at first I was a little offended... Thinking to myself...shit is that what people see me as? Maybe it was just my ego saying (at the risk of sounding pretentious) "I'm much more than a picture taker, I'm a photographer, an artist" or maybe it was the level of alcohol in her system and the fact that adjectives were a thing of the past at that point...but it stuck with me. 

I asked myself if there was a difference between the two. One one hand you have the "picture taker" that can take pretty pictures of whatever may be in front of the lens, on the other hand you have the photographer who takes time to actually craft an image. An image that has depth, meaning and purpose within the frame. At first, everyone who picks up a camera and likes to press the shutter could be considered a "picture taker". Someone who enjoys taking pictures and posting/showing them off but lacks a direction or purpose. As that enjoyment turns to fulfillment and taking turns to making I believe there is some sort of transcendence into a photographer that takes place.

There is some sort of threshold, or event horizon that some of us pass through, where a picture becomes a photograph and that frame becomes your voice to the world. It's most likely not one singular moment, if it was I think we'd all sit around waiting for that moment to happen. I think it is more of a change in the thought process of the one holding the camera and the more thinking involved, the deeper the image becomes. When it comes down to it, I think the fundamental difference between a "picture taker" and a photographer is the thought behind an image. 

When you look at this image, what do you see? Is it just a BW of two kids playing soccer? Or, is it an image that captures the essence of a summer afternoon spent with best friends. I urge you to look beyond the first dimension...How are each of the subjects looking at one another, where is there attention? Who is learning from who? What is their demeanor, posture? Questions like these differentiate the "picture taker" from the photographer.



Wall Flowers, not always a bad thing

A few months ago I spent some time traveling through Europe, one of my favorite stops was the (highly underrated) country of Portugal. While we were there exploring around, one of the things that I couldn't stop noticing the pastel colored buildings scattered all across the country and all of the vibrant flowers that only complimented the architecture. Seeing the flowers compliment pastel walls inspired me to come up with an idea I turned into the Wild Flower Series. Honestly, the simplicity of the images caught me off guard and for a long time I was hesitant to publish them. Then one of my best friends, Rob, told me it was the most creative series he's seen me shoot. He reminded me that not every image taken has to be some grandiose composition always telling some larger story. 

What the images do for me is remind me of how simple and easy life was while on the road. Our only priorities were exploration, finding the next bottle of wine and becoming better friends. These images are a good reminder that the simplest things in life can be the most beautiful.