For those of you who have followed my posts for quite sometime, you might recognize this subject being discussed at My Cozy Book Nook. For those who are new, I wanted to share my definition of photograph vs snapshot as part of my spiritual photography articles. I will more than likely refer to this distinction quite often.
My basic definition is this: a photograph is purposeful – it goes beyond the image to tell a story or convey an emotion. A snapshot is spontaneous with the purpose of documenting a moment in time.
I have taken snapshots my entire adult life. I felt it was my responsibility as a mom to pull out the point-and-shoot for each birthday, holiday, or family trip in order to fulfill my duty as family historian. I remember one trip to Disney World several years ago (how is that possible?! It seems like yesterday…) where the children instinctively posed the same way for each character portrait. It made for a quick and easy picture – but the emotional thrill of the vacation was missing.
As I was preparing for my trip to Paris, however, I realized that I wanted to photograph something more than the iconic images: postcards serve that purpose. I was traveling alone and I wanted to capture my emotional reaction to these familiar sights in order to share them with family when I returned home. It sounded easy enough … but as is most things in life, it was far easier said than done.
I used to be naive enough to think that photography was not an art – it did not require talent. All that was needed was decent eyesight to focus, and an index finger to press the shutter. How grateful I am that I kept that ignorant comment to myself.
- finding just the right angle – point of view – to tell the story.
- focus – what is tack sharp and what is blurred for effect.
- what is included in the picture as well as what is excluded.
- focal length – zoom in for intimate detail or pan out for context
- light – how it is conveyed in the image, and how the shadows are acknowledged.
I do not pretend that this is all there is to know about true photography. This is only what I have learned over the past couple of years. And while I had no idea this little hobby would develop into a life long quest, I am delighted to have found such a worthy past time.
Photography helps people to see — Berenice Abbott