"Taking" VS "Making" a Photograph / by Glenn Dixon

“Let’s go make some photographs!” my good friend David DuChemin would say as we would prepare for a day exploring the ice on our Antarctic “Within The Frame” adventure. This purposeful and very deliberate use of language, make photographs rather than take photographs struck me as rather profound. The subsequent reflection process lead into interesting avenues of thought regarding the importance of specific language when describing our work.

Taking a photograph to me implies an act of removal. Extracting something from the environment or subject without care or regard for the way in which the scene was originally discovered. It also insinuates that the photographer who takes a photograph does not stop and spend time interacting with the space or people with whom they are photographing, there is no sense of reciprocity or mutual gain. Quite literally it is all take and no give.

Making a photograph on the other hand is an act of production. A positive initiative of raw creation. “Make” is an active verb, infused with energy and passion. The photographer who makes a photograph is aware of the surroundings, sympathetic to the subject and actively engages with the space in a way that beautifully blends the artistry and craft.

Above: Necko Harbour - Antarctica, 2012

Below: Petermann Island - Antarctica, 2012

This photograph was created during my second voyage to Antarctica just before Christmas of 2012.  I spent half an hour walking around this rocky monument, climbing boulders, observing how the light fell and how the lines and perspective effected the composition. Once I found a composition that I liked, I waited for this penguin to walk into place and complete my story. Had I not sat calmly observing the scene, this penguin would never have walked so close to me. This approach when combined with conscious camera decisions is a an example of making or building a photograph. Quite different to walking up, taking a picture then moving on without any further regard.