Photography is not a blood sport

Photography is not a blood sport.

The other afternoon I was discussing an assignment at home with my wife (she manages production so we work a lot of overtime). We were talking about an upcoming “shoot”. My 4yr old son chimed in after listening intently for a while: “daddy why are you shooting somebody?”

There followed a lengthy explanation about the word having more than one meaning, that I use a camera not a gun, etc. etc… I think I got it all right and I’ll check it by him soon to make sure he understood generally. But it got me thinking about the origins of the term (which incidentally I can’t find). Where and why was it decided that we would metaphorically “shoot” our subjects with our cameras (why not call them guns?)

And it becomes even more puzzling if you explore the semantics and the connotations of the profession of photography. Check it out: we make a picture, we create a look, we build lighting… the language of photography, generally, has its roots in creation, conception. Compare this with the word “shoot”. Destruction. Creation. You want to choose how you describe your role?

I understand why the word “shoot” was employed. It’s easy to say; it tacks on nicely to the word “photo”; looking through the viewfinder on a camera might be similar to that of a gun (I’ve never shot a gun so I couldn’t say).

Maybe it just happened and we stuck with it and that’s a shame. I don’t know any photographer who feels like they are destroying an image more than they are creating one. So I’m dropping the word. I’ll throw in “session” for now and see how that feels. See where it goes from there… how about you?

Whatever you decide, please don’t shoot me!

3 Responses to “Photography is not a blood sport”
  1. Sasha says:

    I think that’s brilliant. It may not be the correct word but it’s a start. Who knows, it may catch on :)

  2. Nan says:

    Hmmmmm…. Now you have me wondering! It’s discussed here too:

  3. Mina says:


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