Making not taking

“Can you take a photo of me?” So often than not, we refer to photography as the act of ‘taking’, a simple process of pointing a lens and pressing a button, of turning up and capturing the scene that presents itself. But how many shots are there ‘for the taking’?

It was Ansel Adams who said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”. This quote acknowledges the process of creating an image: of visualising it, working out the ingredients necessary to capture that image, whether that be camera settings, weather or time of day, and then implementing those decisions – an act of creation involving thought, time, energy and experience.

At first glance, this image may look like a quick spur-of-the-moment snap. In reality, creating the image took three visits to the location, an hour and a half of shooting, and post-processing: choosing a suitable bridge, working out the best time of day for the shot (since Venice’s canals are plunged into shadow for much of the day and I needed light for the reflections), waiting for a gondola…and the next…and the next (for each gondola that passed, I had a optimum shooting window of a couple of seconds). More often than not, the gondola was at the wrong angle or the reflections weren’t pronounced or formed a displeasing pattern, or the oar was at the wrong angle or out of the water.

Perhaps it’s no more than semantics, but for me, this image was definitely made rather than taken.

Technical details: 
ISO 500, f6.3, 1/80th, 70mm focal length


  1. Absolutely!! – Lost count of the number of times I’ve said this to members of the camera club I’m in. Another word that grates for me is ‘capturing’ (a scene). In fact image of the scene is the one the photographer wants you to see not the one ‘out there’ that needs to ben be ‘captured.’ Again, the emphasis should be on the fact that it’s creative choices that make the final image: time-of-day, angle of view, choice of lens and focal length and the manual camera settings (ISO, aperture, shutter speed) before the shutter is released and the creative decisions made in post-processing after the shutter os released that ‘make’ the image.

    Liked by 1 person

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