An interesting debate around word choice among photographers is the question of whether one "takes" or "makes" photographs. There are compelling arguments behind both choices. But which is correct?
Let's argue the point here as to what the distinction may be and when you might like to use either verb.
To Take Photographs
Taking photographs is the more commonly used verb. This is what you would readily use in conversation for the most part, whether a photographer in a professional sense or not.
In fact, it might be more accurate to say that any non-photographer is most likely to describe the action as taking photographs. This in itself presents a distinction for photographers: if you are a professional, you may want to use language which sets you apart from anyone with a smartphone.
Taking also sounds quite forceful. It harkens back to a time when people believed that a camera might literally take your soul. This word use may sound harsh to some, while to others, it feels natural. Some people might react badly to having their picture "taken," as if it is a valuable possession being stolen from them. Though we may not consciously consider it this way, the context of the word may be something that puts people's hackles up.
To Make Photographs
The use of to "make" photographs might be considered a little more artsy. It describes an act of conscious creation, as in to make a piece of art. This gives more of a serious connotation, indicating the skill and dedication that goes into capturing a truly great photograph.
It may also be a more accurate word choice for a professional. An amateur will take a photograph and leave it there; a professional will edit the image, elevate it, and shape it into something which produces an end result at least slightly different. In this sense, the photograph has been "made" after being "taken."
It implies a deeper level of work and presents the photograph as something more aspirational. On the downside, some photographers may feel that it sounds a bit too forced or pretentious.
It's a little bit unexpected, too. Consider the implications for asking to take someone's portrait on the street. If you ask them, "may I make your portrait," they might be surprised by the question and agree to it where they wouldn't normally. It sounds more courteous and polite and also has that dramatic air of art about it.
The distinction in actual use appears to be that more artistic-minded photographers might describe their work as making photographs, particularly if they are of a level to have exhibited or published books of their images.
It's also interesting to note that the verb "to make" is often used in other languages, and is not interchangeable for photography as it is in English. Some other languages do stick to "take," and in some contexts, even more complex verbs may be used. Ansel Adams is said to have coined the use of "make" in English, but it's not clear if this can be fully established. Still, if one of the most respected photographers of all time is known to have used it; that might be an indicator for you of how seriously you take it.
In the light of all this, you might choose to say that you make a photograph in order to establish yourself as a creator and artist, bringing yourself above the level of amateur. Mindful use in this sense could even create a shift within your internal perception, turning a skill into a craft and a photograph into art.
So, what's your verdict? Do you take or make? Voice your opinion in the comments.