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The Snapshot Is King

This is a chapter from the book A Lesser Photographer.

“Inherently, we all know that an image isn’t measured by its resolution, dynamic range, or anything technical. It’s measured by the simple—sometimes profound, other times absurd or humorous or whimsical—effect that it can have upon us.” — Chase Jarvis

It seems there’s no more damning critique of a photograph than, “It’s a snapshot.”

This makes no sense.

Snapshots are usually reserved for family, friends, and events, where we’d rather be enjoying ourselves than setting up a tripod. Snapshots discard the old rules of photography and aim for pure emotion. What could be more artistic?

The snapshot gives voice to three-year-olds, the poor and many other groups often considered unworthy of the “art” world.

The truth is the vast majority of photographers take snapshots. The best-selling cameras in the world are optimized for snapshots. The snapshot is the medium for some of the most important pictures in history.

It’s time for the snapshot to get some respect.

Because of the joy a snapshot usually brings to my life, I care for it far more than anything hanging in a gallery.

My inbox is filled with emails that include some variation on the phrase “I only really shoot family photos.” I can’t imagine a more important subject.