Graphic designers have it easy by comparison. They get to use words like ‘’create’ or ‘design’ or, at worst, ‘lay out’ when they refer to the act of their creative process. All of these words are fairly positive and evoke, at worst, neutral emotions. They appear to be artists and the language with which they describe their processes is artistic.
“Do you have a better word
than shoot, expose, capture,
acquire, or grab?”
Photographers on the other hand have to suffer with a list of negative words to describe their creative process. All of the words that describe the creation of an image on film or digital leave an uneasy feel in the back of my mind. Nefarious photographers, stalk, hound or trip shutters in secret with long lenses concealed by darkness, distance or numbers.
When a photographer talks about the inception of the creation of a photograph they use a very few specific words. To demonstrate these not-so-positive words, I am going to use a T-I-C conversation between a photographer and a soon-to-be photographic image to show you what I mean.
Photographer: I am going to capture that image.
Image: Help! I’ve been kidnapped.
Photographer: I mean, I am going to shoot this image.
Image: Help! I’ve been shot. Medic!
Photographer: No-no. I will expose you.
Image: Naked? I will be exposed. Are you some kinda pervert?
Photographer: That’s not what I meant. I will acquire you, electronically.
Image: Well, fellow images. I’ve just been told we were taken over without benefit of a personal visit from the corporate raider.
Photographer: Come on, all I did was fire a shutter.
Image: And that’s not all the shutter lost his job and we’re next in the acquisition hatchet-job.
Photographer: Maybe you could just let me frame you?
Image: I am not taking the rap for anybody.
Photographer: I’ve had it, I just need to grab this image.
Image: Well, watch where you grab then and be gentle about it.
Photographer: OK, This won’t hurt a bit. <Snap>
Image: Ouch! You’ve stolen my soulll…
I think by now you see what I mean. If there is a reasonably neutral word for the obtaining of an image through the process of using a camera, I am not certain what it would be. Though I searched the web diligently and cannot provide you with a reference for the following. I did recently read of a story of some photographers in India who were arrested for emailing about going ‘shooting’ the next day. The police misunderstood the context of the word ‘shoot’ and met the surprised Photogs at the location. Maybe it is an urban legend-but it reminds us to be cautious in proper use of language in describing what we are about to do.
So, readers, do you have a better word than shoot, expose, capture, acquire, or grab? If so, leave it in the comments and maybe we can help people realize all us photographers are not the shady, violent greedy characters that our image rustling makes us appear to be.
Rikk Flohr © 2008