the inspired snapshot

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by mysteryscribe, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    This term got me in a lot of trouble recently, I'd like to explore it now that the dust has settled.

    I am guilty sometimes of saying it's no more than a snapshot. I suppose adding the 'no more' somehow gives the reader the impression that I am making a quality judgement of the image. Since nobody can see exactly what I am thinking, half the time I'm not even sure myself, let me try to give some terms my own definition. In other words what I really mean not what someone else thinks I mean.

    Snap shot: A completely random image made on the spur of the moment. Absolutely not planned in anyway, a true moment in time captured on film or digital media. A thing that happened in the presense of someone who happened to have a camera handy. The quality of the image depends on who has the camera in their hands more than the equipment they use, but can be effected by the equipment.

    Inspired snapshot: An image recorded by a person who goes to a specific place at a specific time in order to make a photograph of something at that place and time. Ie, I go to a retro fair with my cameras and film. It is my intention to make two dozen images of something at that fair. I find a 1800s wedding being held, so part of my day is spent shooting that wedding. But it is 'play it as it lays Sam'. No posing and just shooting random shots. Now I have (arguably) quality equipment, and a mediocre amount of talent, but I didn't set it up and it is sprung on me. So I hadn't planned for days what shot to make or when to do it.

    Portrait: Carefully planned and posed photograph. The lighting is controlled and the background and scenery chosen with care so as not to distract from the subject of the portrait. It is my guess thought I am not familier with what is happening these days, that this is the type photo that gets framed. Now this is not to say that the portrait can't be different from a typical 'old school' studio shot because it certainly can and nowadays mostly is.

    Scenics: I'm driving down the road and I see a really cool looking view ahead. I take my camera from the glove box and step out of the car and shoot a negative, or a couple of electrons. Get back in my car and drive away.

    Inspired scenic: I put my camera in the car and go looking for a nice bit of scenery to shoot. My lake shots and marina shots fall into this category. I go to a specific spot to make a shot of something there. I have no plan no angles set, nothing but a feeling that I want to shoot a shot there today.

    Landscape: I see a sceen that I like. I go home and I get my camera and I think no I should be there at one hour after sunrise to make the best shot. I plan out the angles and the time line. I go back and I shoot the shot I had envisioned and a dozen more.

    I think you get the idea. There is something between the simple shot of my grandson playing with his toys, and the studio portrait of him dressed up standing by a fern. Take the camera go to his house with shooting a picture in mind and look for him to so something image worthy. Does a 5k camera make a difference? sure. Does knowing how to light a subject make a difference? You bet you butt it does. But you are still there just shooting what you see.

    Now if you take the child out to a park and set him up to shoot, then it rises past me shooting pictures of my grandson on the floor of his living room. The photographer chooses where to place the child in more or less what possition and he is the center of the photograph not his toys all around him, then it rises to the level of portrait even if it isn't in a studio setting.

    I am probably wrong as I usually am, but I thought maybe someone might get a subtle idea of what the difference is: or not.

    So what do you think?
     
  2. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Oh boy . . . here's where we get into involvements which are peculiar to photography. Case in point:

    Consider Monet painting his water lilies in his garden. And then consider a rank amateur who comes to the same spot next day [same scene, same lighting] and proceeds to paint the same scene.

    You know where I'm heading, right?

    I got into this murky alleyway of discussion through another entry while trying to describe to someone how I approach landscape photography. His reply was, 'Yeah, yeah. I understand. You go nuts trying to get things just right. Sounds to me like a mess of really dull work, Dude. If I just go bopping around and take enough snapshots, I gotta get lucky a few times, right?'

    Logically, the only way out appears to be to separate the intellectual process from the final image. There's something not quite satisfactory in this, though. It probably lies in the loss of a one-to-one correlation between photography and the graphic arts.

    Like I said, 'Oh boy . . .'
     
  3. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    It's been a couple of weeks since I've been called dude, so lets go for it. I admit that these days most of what I take is inspired snapshots. I seldom shoot pictures of spencer because I've got a camera handy and he is so cute.

    I drive to the lake to shoot a picture or to the cemetary, but I just shoot what is there. So to me, I'm shooting glorified snapshots. I just bring all my toys (mental and physical) with me. Your snaps might be better on that day, because you have bettery toys (mental or physical) But they were both just snaps of things we found and had no control over.

    This is a frame of mind thing not a commentary on which is better since on any given day a pure snapshot might be better than an inspired snap, but lets hope a portrait or landscape is better than either.
     
  4. journeyman

    journeyman TPF Noob!

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    That is the type of statement that makes me want to hurt something cute and fuzzy.

    Even when you take a snapshot there should be some thought there. I'm sure for any decent photographer they make descions on composition and technical aspects of the shot. If not why not just spin in a circle with a camera phone and accept the pictures obtained.

    I'm sure if you took a thousand pictures there's a chance you might get something decent but I hope you wouldn't call it art because art roughly means "skill" or "craft" and there's not much skill in luck.
     
  5. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    My very first photography instructor, a very nice lady name Barbara, used to say, "If you shoot a wedding and everyone there has a camera and they all pop away, someone will get A shot better than anything you made. Your job is to get more than ONE great shot.
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Sometimes a spontaneous, unskillfully produced, hideously lit, poor quality, $0.05 econo-lab, snapshot pic can grab me by the heart and mind and squeeze...

    ...and I've spent more than a few hours looking at skillfully, expensively, intricately produced, fine art photographs that excite me when I consider the gear and technical prowess necessary to create them, but bore me as actual photographs.
     
  7. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Yes but the odds are as, Barbara would say, that if you look at a hundred talented thinking photographers shots, you will find more pleasing than if you look a the same number of shots by someone just mindlessly clicking away.

    Although I draw no value judgements, one is probably as good as other for what they are. I'm just saying there is a difference between them. An inspired snapshot is different from either of the other two types, at least in my opinion.
     
  8. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I would agree that I usually consider effort to be rewarded.

    I regularly refer to photographs of all kinds as "pics" and "shots", and I know some folks that really rubs the wrong way. :)
     
  9. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Doesn't rub me wrong I usually use the term shot or image but somehow anything with people in it is now a protrait to some folks ect. That just isn't true in my opinion.
     
  10. 6Speed

    6Speed TPF Noob!

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    Now step up the argument even further past snapshot taker vs. skilled photographer. Some people don't even view photography as art. A fewl people I've spoken with in my art classes think that photography is not a "real" art concentration within the larger scope of the art school.
     
  11. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    To me photography is a craft and its purveyors are craftsmen, but what is wrong with that. Take a look at what some of those old pieces of furniture made by craftsmen sell for these days.

    The vision is there for photographers, but the fact that you can reproduce as so many copies make it seem a craft. So artist who do litho prints are somehow reduced to mere craftsman as well.

    I don't know it's an arguement they were having when I was in school as well. A name is a just a word.... In the end it is as it always was.... THE WORK SPEAKS FOR ITSELF...

    I wonder in what position digital photography will shake out.

    But let the painter try to make a wedding album, it might take several years to complete, if it could be completed lol
     

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