Waiting for the Moment


Once, my photography mentor from one of my previous internships quoted Ansel Adams, “You don’t take photographs, you make them.” The moment I heard it, I didn’t really understand the meaning until I experienced the times when I “made” the photographs instead of “taking” it. The photograph above is one of my photo-making moments. It was a breezy and cloudy day on my Californian college campus. I was early for my writing class, waiting for my professor. As I looked out the window, I saw the dry branches of the Gingko tree, the velvet-red wall from the nursing lab and small green plants clinging on the wall. Through the white frames on the window, the view, somehow, looked beautiful to me. So I took out my phone and framed the scene on the screen to take a picture. But I hesitated as I remembered Adams’ quote and it reminded me of creating or making pictures. So I decided to wait until someone walked in to the lower middle rectangle. But I had an ideal someone to walk in in, not just a random person: someone who was not wearing reddish color but bluish so that I would get a contrast with the red wall. I was also imagining someone with an interesting character. People walked through but no one met my criteria. But after waiting for another ten minutes, Dr, Burke (one of the professors), with a bluish outfit walked in. Then, as soon as he entered the lower-middle frame of the window, I snapped the picture. Only one click and there, I got my ideal picture.

Nowadays, in the digital age, many people have cameras on their phones. Many people have DSLR cameras and a good access to share their photography on social media sites such as Instagram. But since the digital cameras has allowed us to take as many pictures as we want and delete them, it is easy for someone to get one good picture after pressing the shutter release button for more than 10 times. That’s why there are some controversial arguments questioning if the value of photography has decreased. I personally think that the art of photography has decreased to somewhat extent with digital cameras. One would argue that as long as you can take good pictures, you are a photographer. But I think it is a line which divides between a photographer and an artist. That’s why I have been trying to practice to think a lot before taking a picture and limit myself to 3 pictures of a same subject. It’s hard sometimes but I will keep trying to “make” pictures. When I meet my mentor again this time, I have to ask him, “Am I getting there?”


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