This is the difference between taking a photo or making one
The phrase “making a photograph” is one that you’ll often hear as your journey with photography continues. It’s odd the first time we hear it. “Making?”. All our lives up until that point, we’ve been told that we “take” photos, not make them. There is a big difference between taking a photo and making a photo, though.
In this video, photographer Espen Helland talks us through how he made this photo of a stag in Scotland’s Cairngorms. Espen takes us on a journey from the very beginning stages of his idea, right through to the day it was shot – to very dramatic effect. This isn’t so much a tutorial on how to make a photo so much as explaining the intent behind making a photo.
It’s interesting to see the workflow of others, like Espen, going through the process of making a photo. Hearing their justifications and the effort they sometimes have to go through in order to get the shot can be very inspiring. It forces us to push our own boundaries when we hear what other people will go through to get that photo they see in their head. The photo they want their camera’s sensor to see, too.
Even though looking at the image presents you with its own story, seeing that workflow and what went into it is like… The story behind the story. And while this particular photo of Espen’s is excellent, a lot of the time the story of how an image was made can actually be better than the image itself.
I try to “make” photographs as much as possible during my sessions with people. I’ll often have an image in my head weeks before I even know who the subject is going to be. I’ve already figured out where it’s going to be, what time of day it’s going to happen, what possible angles there might be at that location during different times of the day – just in case the weather sucks – how I want the landscape to look, how I want the subject to look, how they’re lit, positioned, everything.
As for taking photos… Well, that’s what we do before we discover we even can “make” one with intent!
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.