“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
I remain irritated by the vocabulary used in combination with photography. And those who have been following my writing for a while will perhaps remember. It actually dates back at least 4-5 years, when a follower of my landscape/nature photography (on a photo sharing platform that has sunken into oblivion now) commented: “I’d love to see you shoot people!” – I still lived in Germany then, and wasn’t aware just how common the word “shoot” is with regards to photography. Someone expressing their wish for me to shoot people sounded extremely odd and wrong to me.
In the German language too, the word “shoot” is used in combination with photography: “ein Photo schiessen” means “to shoot a photo” – I always imagine there’s a photo flying through the air, and someone aims with a gun, shoots it down, and then takes it home. Silly language makes for silly associations. (but, in defense of the German language, the most common phrase is probably “ein Photo machen”, which translates to “to make a photo”.)
People “shoot” a photo, “grab” an image, “take” a picture. That sort of thing. Assuming that photography is a process where we create images, why do we use such destructive and aggressive sounding words? It’s a bit as if we wanted to make sure that the superstition of indigenous people that making a photo of them would indeed take something away from them – yes, I take your photo, and your soul!
I do not understand why these words and phrases are so common. Because I think that, as visual artists, we should try everything to raise awareness that we create – and thus, stop using such derogatory terms for the process, and the art that we’re practicing. A camera is a wonderful tool, and not a weapon.
I have begun to be more aware of the language that I’m using when it comes to my craft and art. And here are my alternatives: I don’t “grab a shot” – I make a photo (or, I capture an image, based on the fact that the camera captures an otherwise fleeting moment in time). I don’t “shoot” – I photograph (yes, to photograph is a verb, too). I’m not “doing a photo shoot” – I’m having a photo session with clients.
And of course, I create images, in the end.