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Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
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What is a snapshot?


 
 
I was just reading Knights of the Round Table by Jim Zuckerman in Instructor Insights, on one of BetterPhoto's blogs dated June 12th. He said, "Iím never interested in snapshots."

What exactly is a snapshot? I have an image in my gallery of a cow taken in the Flinthills of Kansas that I like. I was leaning out the car window to take this image. I did make an effort to compose the shot prior to releasing the shutter button. Is this type of image considered a "snapshot" by professionals?


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6/13/2005 7:18:19 AM

 
Dale Gast
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/25/2004
  Sharon, the dictionary describes a snapshot as an informal picture. With that in mind, I would describe a snapshot as a photo that I have taken not meant to be correct with any composition rules, or as a photograph that I would not sell. It was taken merely for the pleasure of remembering a date & place in life. And, I would sell a photograph that was taken out of a car window if it was appealing to a client.


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6/13/2005 8:12:14 AM

 
Larry Lawhead
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/15/2002
  Well, without a doubt, the term "snapshot", when used in a photographer's environment, is usually derogatory, a definite insult. Like when someone says, "you have a couple of great photos in your gallery, but quite a few of your photos have a snapshot quality". Personally, I like the term "informal picture" as a description for snapshot. It has nothing to do with quality, but more with mood/tone. Informal, unposed, happenstance. By that measure, Ansel Adams's famous "Moonrise, Hernadez NM" is a snapshot, taken on the spur of the moment, when he saw a perfect scene out his car window. It certainly doesn't mean that it was a careless picture, or sub-par. Just that it wasn't set up as formally as usual.


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6/13/2005 9:12:35 AM

 
Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2003
StoneHorseStudios.com
  My idea of a "snapshot" is a photograph made with little or no regard to both exposure and composition. 100% of the importance of the image is placed on the subject, and not in the way it was captured, and adherence to photographic rules and artistic merits are purely coincidental.

Your cow shot had some consideration in terms of composition, and likely you had chosen your exposure (I assume this from knowing you). This by my definition would not be a snapshot. The situation the photograph was made, may not have been ideal however. If you had been able to stop, get out and take more time go over your composition and exposure options would have been able to make a better photo? I'll leave that to you to decide, but in any case I wouldn't consider this a snapshot.

- Eric.


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6/13/2005 9:20:19 AM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
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  Thank you for responding, Dale, Larry and Eric! This particular image pleases me well enough, but I did contemplate whether the exposure was as good as it could be. Someting easily fixed in PS, but I never could decide if I needed to make adjustments or not.


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6/13/2005 11:57:49 AM

 
Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/17/2003
  To me, a snapshot implies capturing a quick observation. Typically you would not have the time or ability to do more than click the shutter. I often think of snapshots as banal representations offering nothing more than a fleeting glimpse of time or place. It brings to mind the days of sitting in a dark room looking at someone's vacation photos on a slide projector. Snapshots don't typically evoke any strong feelings or emotions, other than boredom.

For trivia buffs: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "snapshot" was first used in 1808 by an English sportsman by the name of Sir Henry Hawker. He noted in his diary that almost every bird he shot that day was taken by snapshot, meaning a hurried shot, taken without deliberate aim. Snapshot then was originally a hunting term.


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6/13/2005 12:31:57 PM

 
Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/17/2003
  Always one to see both sides of a point, I came back to offer another thought. How many times have you taken a quick shot of something only to have it be a wonderful photograph!? You sit down to look at all your images and whaddayaknow, that snap photo that you took on the fly turns out to be a really neat shot. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's a great feeling!

By the way, I love those cows!! : )


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6/13/2005 12:53:43 PM

 
Gen Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
  Sharon, you always come up with a good question...

This word is tossed around a lot among the photographers but I do not use it to refer to photos, especially photos of others. Here is why...
The term "snapshot" was used on my photo before, a long ago. But I still remember it well.
I was told that it meant very uncomplimentary, and it refers to photos of less quality, etc. etc...

imvho, providing consructive critism is far meaningful than labeling a photo, a snapshot...


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6/13/2005 2:19:25 PM

 
Dale Gast
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/25/2004
  I agree that using "snapshot" to refer to others' professional work could be uncomplimentry & highly unprofessional as well as hurtful. What I would say to that is to consider the source. Professional or not, someone that would imply that someone's work is less quality isn't someone I would take heed to. I would like to add that "snapshots" or informal photos are one of the most treasured, ageless, photos of all! They tell the story of someone's life. Yes, you can capture a portrait of someone and be very, very good at your craft, but it's those snapshots in our family photo books that put us with loved ones & special places that hold a special place in the heart!


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6/13/2005 2:30:35 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   If we consider a snapshot to be a photograph taken without planning and consideration for composition or exposure (a criteria with which I agree), then the Pulitzer Prize winning picture of the firefighter carrying a dying child from the ruins of the Alfred E. Murrah building must be considered a snapshot. In fact, by that definition, most news photos are snapshots. However, it does not mean they aren't good, or even great, pictures. Therefore, I must agree with Patricia that s snapshot can be an excellent shot. BTW, I take a ton of snapshots, mainly of family, for every planned picture I make.


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6/13/2005 2:37:50 PM

 
Ford    put it on program and snap the shot. More of what tourist do


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6/13/2005 3:28:17 PM

 
Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2003
StoneHorseStudios.com
  A photo-journalist still has to decide what equipment he/she will be taking on location, and based on his/her experience choose the appropriate settings for the situation, if not at the time of the shot, then prior to it. Sure, they sometimes may just hold the camera above their head and fire away in burst mode, it's the preparation that got them to that point that will make the difference. Most times they have shoot like this, not because they have no regard for composition, it's just because it's the only one available at the time.

Whether snapshots are acceptable to you will depend on what you are looking to get out of photography. There is nothing wrong with taking snapshots if capturing the subject for memories or record keeping and nothing more, but I'm pretty sure that when one photographer tells another that their work looks like snapshots, it always meant as a put-down. Not everyone has to or wants to try make art out of every photo they shoot but if improving your photographic skill is important to you and all you do is raise the camera in a general direction and shoot in the factory preset mode, then you won't learn anything. This raises the point of consistency...a snapshooting can produce a great photo, but a photographer that puts some thought and technique into their photography will learn to produce great photos more often.


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6/13/2005 4:15:07 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
  A snapshot is when take a picture.
A photograph is when you create an image.


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6/13/2005 5:03:31 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Eric (or Sharon), I was not meaning that as a put-down to photojournalists. The training before the shot is what makes them photographers instead of just snapshooters. I was just agreeing that sometimes snapshots are good pictures.

Bob, you hit the nail on the head!


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6/13/2005 7:16:14 PM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  Thanks everyone! I think all the responses have been well thought out and anyone reading these messages will have a better understanding between a "snapshot" and a quality photograph.


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6/13/2005 7:20:21 PM

 
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