Why Photography Is More Than A Picture

Beautiful Sunset on Lake Superior Shoreline

When I think about all the media formats that are available today my head spins like a weather vane in a tornado. We are bombarded by images large and small; sounds that are loud and percussive; words bounce and penetrate; reason is seemingly flung out the window with the negative strips of yesteryear. But to what purpose? So much of what is forced upon us in the name of photography is persuasive drivel that dulls the mind and numbs the soul.

Still photography as a craft is far too important to casually toss into the stew of mass media as the lesser cousin of all other formats. As purveyors of the trade, we as photographers, must never lose sight of the fact that a photograph is not the same as a picture. To shoot pictures rather than photographs is reducing photography to its lowest common denominator – output.

The point I wish to make is that photography is an art form. Don’t ever forget that simple truth as you create your photographs. We each have a process about how we create photos. Our photos don’t have to be “arty” to attain the quality of art. But the good ones, the really good photographs we take, need to show a sense of self that you, as a photographer, put into the creation of the print. Ideally, a photograph moves the viewer to a different place and time as they are transported by the images they see.

Trust me when I tell you that this will never happen with every picture you take. Pictures are mundane. Pictures are a dime a dozen. Photographs are special. They are representations of a time and place that you carefully crafted into something that takes on a life of its own.

In the evolution of the life of a photographer, we all want to move from taking pictures to taking photographs. The process is never seamless. Some days you take a lot of pictures. Other days, you end up with a treasure trove of photographs. It is part of the learning process to take more photographs and fewer pictures. It is part of the learning process to know the difference.

The Pastoral Beauty of a Farm Field

Until next time, keep clickin’.

Photo credits: Daryl Byklum.

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June 30, 2020


If you don't mind Daryl, I'd like to tweak your statement from "we all want to move from taking pictures to taking photographs" to, "...move from taking pictures to MAKING photographs." We sometimes downplay our own selves and the truth that photography is an art. And no one artist is greater than another. Each performs his own work in the manner in which the artist chooses.   Great thoughts and photos! William 

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