Definition of snapshot. : an informal photograph that is taken quickly : a quick view or a small amount of information that tells you a little about what someone or something is like.
Photography has become the universal language, and photo sharing sites like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook have made snapshots the most popular way to share experiences by people in their day to day lives.
I think when people think of a “snapshot”— they think of a photograph taken by someone with little knowledge of photography per se but someone who enjoys the process of looking at or into a picture through the enjoyment of visual stimulation. In many cases they will not grasp the fact that the photograph was not taken with any consideration of composition, form, or artistic value that someone who is keen on photography may do. I’m only generalizing here and not pointing the finger at anybody in particular but just making a point.
However, there is an art of casual picture making that will turn your average joe picture into a killer snapshot with a little knowledge. To understand this term further we need to look at history. The snapshot concept was introduced to the public at large by Eastman Kodak, which introduced the Brownie box camera in 1900. Kodak encouraged families to use the Brownie to capture moments in time and to shoot photos without being concerned with producing perfect images. Kodak advertising urged consumers to “celebrate the moments of your life” and find a “Kodak moment”.
The originator of the American trend was Robert Frank, with his book of photographs, The Americans, published in 1958 and also in France Henri Cartier-Bresson with his is theory that photography can capture the meaning beneath outward appearance in instants [Snapshots] of extraordinary clarity is perhaps best expressed in his book Images à la sauvette (1952; The Decisive Moment).
The snapshot tendency was promoted by John Szarkowski, who was head of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art from 1962 to 1991, and it became especially fashionable from the late 1970s. There are several notable practitioners including Garry Winogrand, Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, Martin Parr, William Eggleston, and Terry Richardson. In contrast with photographers like W. Eugene Smith and Gordon Parks, these photographers aimed “not to reform life, but to know it.” Frank has said “I was tired of romanticism, [ . . . ] I wanted to present what I saw, pure and simple. Garry Winogrand in his influential exhibition “New Documents” at the Museum of Modern Art in 1967, in which he identified a new trend in photography: pictures that seemed to have a casual, snapshot-like look and had subject matter that seemed strikingly ordinary. Winogrand has said “When I’m photographing, I see life, [ . . . ] That’s what I deal with. I don’t have pictures in my head… I don’t worry about how the picture is going to look. I let that take care of itself… It’s not about making a nice picture. That anyone can do.”
However I think taking our photos in a “snapshot-mindset” is a way to liberation in our photography. By not letting our conscious mind obstruct our intuitive and creative mind, we are less burdened by “rules” of composition and form. When we shoot a snapshot, we are fully-in-the-moment. We appreciate the experience more than the photograph. And isn’t that what life should be all be about anyways? Eric Kim https://erickimphotography.com/blog/2016/07/15/embrace-the-snapshot/
A snapshot is a photograph that is “shot” spontaneously and quickly, most often without artistic or journalistic intent and usually made with a relatively cheap and compact camera.
Common snapshot subjects include the events of everyday life, often portraying family members, friends, pets, children playing, birthday parties and other celebrations, sunsets, tourist attractions and the like.
Snapshots can be technically “imperfect” or amateurish: poorly framed or composed, out of focus, and/or inappropriately lighted by flash. Automated settings in consumer cameras have helped to obtain a technologically balanced quality in snapshots. Use of such settings can reveal the lack of expert choices that would entail more control of the focus point and shallower depth of field to achieve more pleasing images by making the subject stand out against a blurred background.
Snapshot photography can be considered the purest form of photography in providing images with the characteristics that distinguish photography from other visual media — its ubiquity, instantaneity, multiplicity and verisimilitude.