I No Longer Take Pictures (Editorial)

by Peter iNova

I can't do it any more. It's over. I've taken my last picture. Doesn't make me less of a photographer, however.

Lemme Splain:

Photography is all about taking pictures. But it's a creative process, not a process of theft. Who knows where that phrase came from? "Taking pictures."

Show of hands? I thought not. This is how it happened: Some joker way back in the 1800s confused "Let me take these plates back into the developing tent," with "Let me take a picture."

And if you've never been in a developing tent from 1864, you haven't begun to sweat. It's a portable rubberized canvas contraption that keeps out the light while keeping in the darkness, along with the photographer, stale air and toxic developing fumes. Be glad you're living in an era 140 years later, but I digress.

I'm through with the "take" word. It is peculiarly English. In most languages they use a different term, and its high time we 'mericans started gettin' hip to the process. You never actually rob the world of a picture when you trip the shutter, all you do is suck up 0.00000000000000000000000000000001 gram of photons with every shot. That's less than anybody can weigh, by the way, exactly one-bazillionth of a gram, and frankly, nobody will think of you as having purloined them.

Photography, ideally, is a creative process. You capture these photons since they were reflected freely into the environment without taxation, and you organized them through means of composition, framing and decisive moment of capture into a graphic representation of the ongoing milieu.

Well, at least that's what I'm going to do for the next X-number of photos. My days of image larceny are over. But what term should I replace my old verb?

I could catch pictures, or extract them from the free flow of photons. Perhaps I should think of photography as a photon collection process? I'd like to avoid calling every image a shot, since shots put something out, and photos really harvest something IN.

Besides, getting into the habit of saying "let me get this last shot" doesn't go over too well with the police who have ears for that sort of phrase.

Snatching pictures seems too much like a heist, incarcerating images seems to sheriff.

Getting them seems to simple and accumulating them only really happens all of the time.

But what's the verb for inhaling the special shot?

Landing the picture? Bagging the shot?

Do I accumulate them, nab them (naa), pluck them, harvest them, haul them in, snap them up, freeze them, snare them, reap them or simply obtain them via photographic means?

Or do I do as most other countries declare, just make the picture?

That's pretty good--and it translates well, too--make the photo.

But occasionally I'll get them, seize them, grab them and if I'm very lucky, I'll nail them.

Canon pictures by Peter iNova during a recent China excursion.

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--Peter iNova (

itscanon is © 2005, Peter iNova. All rights reserved. Images by the author. They're © 2006, too.
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