Some people believe photography is just a matter of pointing the camera and pushing the shutter release. (They’re usually the same people who say, if they see a picture they really like, “You must have a nice camera.”) Any serious photograph, however, is actuallly the culmination of dozens, many even hundreds, of creative choices.
Those of us who are to any extent thoughtfully involved in the photography game discern between "snapshots" and "photographs" or, when we’re at our most pretentious, "images." Snapshots are what people who really aren't thinking about it "take." Photographs, on the other hand, are what more thoughtful photographers "make."
Those of us who take pictures know that if a dozen photographers went to the same place to take pictures of that same place or same event there'd probably be twelve different versions with twelve different interpretations, no two quite the same. Photojournlists are trained to look upon scenes in such a way that such bias is minimized. But even experienced photojournalists will tell you that this a goal rather than a quantifiable truth.
Among the variables involved in any photograph:
· The choice of camera.
· The type of film, the film speed or the digital ISO.
· The time of day.
· The time of the year.
· The day of the week.
· Where to stand.
· Whether to shoot from close to the ground or from an elevated position.
· What speed or aperture to use.
· How to use the light.
· What story to tell.
· What to show.
· What not to show.
“Walkers,” above, works in no small way and stands out because it was taken from an elevated position. Any number of people have taken pictures of people walking on the beach. But by varying the perspective, the picture has a slightly unexpected aspect to it.
A couple of my photographer friends and I used to talk about taking a road trip together. We were going to drive across a few states taking pictures. We've never quite gotten our act together enough to take this trip. And it's my secret suspicions that if we had we'd never have gotten any more than five miles down the road on any given day because each of us would be yelling to the driver to stop the car so that he could get out and make a picture of something he'd seen.
We may be thoughtful. But that doesn’t always mean we see things the same way.