I’ve often wondered why sometimes, language used for image making often has an acquisitional aspect to it. Words such as capture, or to take an image resonate with me in a rather negative way.
I was asked once, why I always seem to say that I make photographs, not take them. I hadn’t been aware of my own language, but after some time thinking about it, I know why I use the word make.
Firstly, there is the sense that I am creating something, rather than pointing my camera at something and just copying what is there. To take a photograph suggests I’m copying what is already there, and this is perhaps a terrible mindset to be in. Our mindset being an important part of the picture making process (not picture taking process).
Secondly, I don’t go making images so that I have a collection. I am not a collector, and the idea that I take an image, suggests stealing a moment. It suggests ownership of something that was not mine and never can be. It suggests the habit of a collector, rather than someone who is in empathy with his surroundings and wishes to work with it, rather than at it.
Thirdly, taking implies possession; possession implies a sense of oneself being superior to the landscape. It suggests a lack of respect for what is around me, and someone who is not receptive to what the landscape is. It implies a lack of emotional connection.
I make images. They are creations based upon what I saw and appreciated in reality.
I enjoy my time outside, listening to the sounds of the wind and rain, watching atmospheric conditions come and go. I feel very much in empathy with my surroundings. Like a camper who, once done ‘leaves only footprints’, I have the utmost respect for the places I make images of. I like to think of my images as being an interpretation of the places i’ve experienced. I can’t take the landscape’s spirit. I can only represent it, in the form of art that I make.
Perhaps this feels to you as if I’m splitting hairs. But isn’t it true that, often it’s the small things that matter, and by having the mindset that I do have, I feel I’m able to abstract my creations away from the landscapes they represent. I’m able to understand that what I do, is an interpretation of what was before my eyes, not a verbatim recording of it.
It’s an important point, I feel.