1: An informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small hand-held camera.
2: A shot taken quickly by a hunter.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “snapshot” was first used in 1808 (some twenty-one years before the commonly accepted date considered to mark the invention of photography) by Sir Henry Hawker. He noted in his diary that almost every bird he shot that day was takenby snapshot, meaning a hurried shot, taken without deliberate aim. Snapshot then, was originally a hunting term, and not one which implied carelessness or a lack of skill. I suppose as photographers we like to align ourselves with the latter definition, rather than the former. As we have said elsewhere, ‘formality’ has become (rightly or wrongly) synonymous with ‘boring’, and we are exhorted to ‘snap away’. Fine. We will. The trick is to marry the two definitions, and to blend them into something worth remembering. Millions of photographs are taken every day by people with no aspirations to be considered photographers or artists, but they are made with common intent. To commemorate, to celebrate, and above all, to remember. That face. That moment. That they were there. That they existed for that time. Many of them may be technically flawed, the equipment may have been poorly chosen, the circumstances less than ideal. Yet there may be value in them just the same.
As strangers, brought in from somewhere outside that group of people, we are entrusted with the responsibility of making images which will connect with our clients and help them mark and remember some of the most profound moments of their lives. Usually, we would hope to get all the technical mumbo-jumbo sorted too. Usually.