There are many unfortunate terms used to describe the work and tools of photographers. They come from within the medium itself which makes them even more disturbing. I find the vocabulary especially problematic for photographers who work with the medium as an art form. A making of fine photographs requires a number of decisions about how a particular subject or scene is to be rendered in order to communicate what the photographer-artist wants to convey. The image thus created reflects a complex, although sometimes rather quickly considered, set of thoughts. Words like “shot” and “capture” fall well short of describing the process involved in the making of the art photograph.

As an artist, I am not “capturing” an image. The image does not exist out in the world only to be found and collected by the photographer. Images do not exist in any form in nature. Images are the unique creations of an individual artist and brought into being through their imagination and craftsmanship. I believe that what Jerrold Levinson (American Philosopher) wrote concerning the making of musical works applies to photographic works as well – that “they do not¬†exist prior to the composer’s compositional activity, but are brought into existence by that activity“.



2 thoughts on “Images are Not “Captures”

  1. I have long hated the phrase “great capture.,” even if intended as a compliment. Quite frankly, I don’t know why people started using it. It seems like something from the last few years.

  2. Thanks for sharing that Mark. I find it is a phrase I hear from other photographers and in camera magazines, not clients. But I don’t want it to catch on. I don’t know why the word “image” or “photograph” can’t be used as is “painting”, or “sculpture”, or “musical score”.

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