It’s a quote from well-known photographer Ansel Adams. And it’s true.
It doesn’t mean you have to spent countless hours in Photoshop or Lightroom to “fix” your photo. Far from it. It also doesn’t mean that “taking photos” equals taking snapshots which have no value except to the person who took them.
It means you have to *work* to get that photo. You have to spent time learning the craft and learning your gear. You have to spent time watching. Seeing. Seeing things differently and using that to create, make, that perfect photo.
It’s not about getting that $5000 camera. Gear doesn’t make a good photo. They’re just tools. No matter how much you spent on it, if you lack vision and cannot SEE how you want your photo to be all the gear in the world does not make a good photo. Good gear however helps you achieve the results you want faster and more easy.
Maybe “make a photograph” sounds a bit artificial. Is it nothing more than a staged situation? Something fake, created just for the sake of the photograph?
Even if it was, does it really matter?
I don’t think it does. I even think most photographs are staged one way or the other. It all comes down to what the image does to you. Are you moved by it? Intrigued? Does it tell the story you want it to tell? That could be to just show that epic sunset in the middle of nowhere or to tell the sad story of a homeless child in the middle of a city. Neither is better than the other. To get that image the photographer had to work for it. Maybe he had to hike 3 hours through desolate terrain to find that perfect spot and had to wait another hour for the perfect light or he had to live on the streets every night to gain the trust of the person who’s story he wanted to tell.
He MADE that photograph.