a blog by knut skjærven

Picturetakes versus Photographs.

Rainy Day Blues. © Knut Skjærven.

The more I think of it the more sound it gets.

I must admit, that when I first had the idea of the distinction it was mostly for the fun of it. But now, I am  pretty sure that the idea is indeed sound.

As I see it: There is a distinction between the concept and the attitude of picturetaking,  and that of photography.

Anyone, who is in the position of a camera can get that camera to function and thereby take a picture. Many will remain picturetakers. Some are disposed to become photographer.

If you basically let the camera be in charge, you are a picturetaker. If you take charge yourself, you have the potential of becoming a photographer. Sure, all photography includes taking pictures. But all taking of pictures does not include photography.

More precisely it goes like this: Both picturetaking and photography include taking pictures. If you let the camera direct your way you become a picturetaker. If you yourself take the lead of the camera, then you are in a position to become a photographer. Don’t ridicule this. I am well aware of the fact that even picturetaking involves a basic taking charge of the camera. You need to take it out of your bag, for instance, point it in a direction, etcetera.

The good thing is: People are not wholly picturestaker, nor are they wholly photographer. Some shots are picturetakes, other are photographs. So don’t despair. But don’t rest on the laurels either. You are, most likely, more the one than the other. You check it out.

Is a picturetake the same as a snapshot? No, it is not. A snapshot can be a picturetake, as well as it can be a photograph.

Is a picturetake the same as a picture? No, it is not.

Many more words could be said about this,  but I will leave it here. You figure it out.


This post is a working note.


15 responses

  1. The power of a Photograph (vs. that of a Snapshot or “Picture”) I believe is the nexus of the differential. A photograph is art and as such it carries with it the features of composition (light, line, form and proportions among all) value, hue, chroma, intensity (and relationships among all) and, most of all, intention of “communication”.

    All of these elements and considerations thereof are in the mind of the Photographer (along with camera and peripheral equipment functionality expertise) before the shutter is released. But most of all, the primary consideration of the Photographer (vs. the Picturetaker or Snapshooter)–and thus also the difference among a Photograph, a Picture and a Snapshot–resides in communication and the intention and considerations thereto of the Photographer–who is not just capturing–but communicating a visual statement about the nature of the subject matter (both objectively and subjectively) including (but not limited to) aesthetics, intention, the nature, intention or history or legacy (of subject matter) society, emotions, the human condition, the setting/environment and all interrelationships among all. It is in this intention and consideration that results in power of Photograph.

    …or, at least, that’s my initial reactive take on this as I awaken this early Sunday morning.

    July 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    • Dear Royce

      Thanks for the clever words. Seems to me that you are wide awake even on early Sunday mornings :-).

      I like it: communicating a visual statement.

      So it is the intention and consideration (but not limited to) that makes the difference then?

      How do you know when a visual statement is successful?


      July 11, 2011 at 8:48 am

  2. Picturetake is more common, they just want the moment… whereas photography, it tends to have a more trascendentalism to it. Picturetake is, for me, just to record the moment in a loose kind of feel, photography is not just record the moment, but put some artistic feeling to it, caring more for details.

    July 10, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    • Dear Juan

      I like what you say here. Could you tell me what you more precisely mean by artistic feeling?


      July 11, 2011 at 8:32 am

      • by artistic feeling… mmmm I mean it´s not just raise the camera and shoot, is looking a bit more for angles, perspectives, shades, catching lights, the right moment… etc… and that most of the times, a picturetake does not go beyond of raising the camera and shoot.

        By this also I do not mean that a picturetake might not be a great photograph…. call it luck… ;))

        July 12, 2011 at 5:34 pm

  3. Question very, very difficult.
    I think that we are both picturetaking and photography.
    Not all the pics are a photographs as you want or you thought.
    I hope, after over forty years of photography of being, not a professional photographer, but a amateur photographer.

    July 10, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    • Dear Franco

      Many thanks for your comment. In your words: what is the basic difference between between a picturetake and a photograph?


      July 11, 2011 at 8:23 am

  4. Pingback: Difficult: Differences and Distinctions

  5. Dear Knut, while reading I found a beautiful quote: “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” (Henry David Thoreau). You’ll find my essay to answer your blogpost here: http://www.heikerost.com/texte/medien/difficult_difference/
    I’m looking forward to comments and discussion!

    July 10, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    • Dear Heike

      Thanks for your wise comment. Need to read it a couple of times more. I know I have some questions.


      July 11, 2011 at 8:17 am

      • Dear Knut,

        it’s just the way I think about the question you posed – far from assuming wisdom 😉
        (…and it’s a pleasure to read your blog!)


        July 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm

  6. Kat Dieter

    I am not a photographer but one who at times appreciates the simple, ie: the picturetaker but cherishes the pictures captured with more than that in mind. Who could not love the “family” moments or sites one sees captured. But the photos that take my mind to a place or invoke an intense feeling are those I truely admire. Often a “picturetaker” inadverdently captures that element , which is lovely. But I truely respect and admire those who see a “bigger picture” of their subject matter and what it can mean and invoke in the viewer.. so a “photographer” usually gets my votes in that catogory as that is what they seek to capture and let the viewer decide how they feel about the picture as it is open to many interpretations.

    July 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    • Dear Kat

      Great words. You are very precise about it. Thanks.

      I am curious about why you find that photographs, as opposed to picturetakes, are open to many interpretations. Do you find that this is a general characteristic of photography?


      July 11, 2011 at 8:14 am

  7. Hi Knut,
    for coincidences between this blog and it hurts not to know English to express my thoughts so they can participate.
    I can only do so with an automatic translator and is not the same thing as it can confuse the concepts.
    I do not know what the interpretation of picturetaker.
    I want to express what I think about photography as an extension designed shows look. about our eyes.
    I want to express what I think about photography as an extension designed shows look.
    All photographed from the beginning of our day, as the first frame what we do with the look and image recorded with the eyes is nothing more nor less than a latent image is a raw film.
    Through photography we can stop the time and plotted on a paper or other media.
    Taking a photograph is in love with the light, shapes colors, the subject or object.
    It is an intimate act, is an energy we receive from what we see and if we transmit that energy and who is the other side can interpret it, we closed the triangle between the actor, the operator and the viewer. Act art of communicating through an image.
    The important thing is to communicate and say something about what we do and no matter what the method.
    In other cases there are those who use photography as an element and create their own stories. It is in every one of us to know what to feed it, otherwise what we eat vomit.
    In life we all can look but do not all know.
    I hope you can understand.
    Luis Bocuti

    August 9, 2011 at 9:05 am

    • Grazie per le tue parole sagge, Luis. Credo di capire la maggior parte di esso. Si prega di scrivere in italiano e io tradurre :-).

      Avere una buona giornata. Molte grazie.


      August 9, 2011 at 9:33 am

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