If we go back only a couple of decades one is hard-pressed to find many cameras just lying around, and certainly even less active camera owners. Back then a camera was for a photographer, and seldom did anyone purchase a camera unless they were photographers because photography was largely for photographers. A “photograph” by definition is painting with light – WikiPedia.com defines Photography as “…based on the Greek words φῶς (phos), meaning "light", and γραφή (graphê), meaning "drawing or writing", and when we put those together it means "drawing with light". So then if a photograph fundamentally is a drawing, doesn’t one need to learn how to draw before a doodle with a crayon becomes a Mona Lisa? No, not by today’s standards. In our age the past is only history and the present is completely different. Now, in our time photographers don’t own the monopoly for possessing cameras, in fact anybody who can place a phone call, can also take a “picture” – and there we have it, the first time I used “picture” in this article, quite purposefully too.
So we know what a photograph is fundamentally, and I’m guessing you are smart enough to understand who takes photographs – its quite obvious. But if photographers take photographs, who then takes “pictures”? To answer that we must go to a more fundamental analog. If one takes a child’s drawing of a face, done in red Crayola crayon and examines it, the subject of that particular drawing is quite obvious, usually – it’s a face! Now who’s face that is, what expression it represents, what purpose it serves are all unknown and therefore, frankly ignored – because nobody cares, they just put that drawing down almost immediately. Why do they not study it, and get drawn it to its structure? Why does nobody feel anything when looking at a child’s doodle of a simple face, usually? Because it’s a “picture”. There is no depth, the detail, if there is usually pointless and there is nothing that hooks you in emotionally - so your brain dismisses it pronto. Pictures are akin to a child’s doodle. You pick up the picture, may look at it briefly and then immediately move on. Try and do that with a photograph…I bet you can’t.
With a photograph, in the least, you will stop even if briefly, you will feel your pulse, even if briefly, and you will concentrate on the subject without even trying. Now why is that? Why does a photograph, a good one, make you stop and feel something? Its because its oozing with purpose, it has meaning and it has an emotion quarterback tackling your nervous system and its all done very much intentionally. It other words a photograph tells a story, and makes you listen! You don’t get to opt out, and its darn near impossible to dismiss a great photograph – your brain will simply ignore you, if you try. A photograph is the Mona Lisa, which is studied and marveled upon by hundreds of millions around the globe. If you show the Mona Lisa to random people in most countries they would immediately know what it is, and probably even who painted it. Did you know the Mona Lisa was created in the first decade of the 1500’s? How many hundreds of years is that? Here’s another question, what child’s doodle has survived that long, and been important enough to last on the fridge for more than a month?
I’ve made my point, and have exposed my photographs to the world through my blog. Are they Mona Lisa’s for you – I don’t know? But some of them are for me. So I conclude with this - I do not take pictures, I make photographs. If you own a camera, learn to photograph, or hire a photographer.
Until next time,