The difference between a picture and a photograph. It’s not about skill, it’s about intent.

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Richard Weisser Realty

Slats of light by Richard WeisserMy friend Michael Thornton asked about the difference in A Picture or a Photograph... and I thought enough about the question to add my two cents worth.

The difference between a picture, or snapshot, and a photograph lies purely in the intent of the creator. If the image is intended as a mere thumbnail of reality that captures a moment in time that documents the location in its chronological state, then it is a picture.

If the photographer endeavors to create interest beyond the obvious by provoking thought or stimulating passion, then it is a photograph. Imagery is a powerful form of communication, and the key is producing a statement that sends the intended message.

Ice Spikes by Richard WeisserIt’s not as easy as it sounds. Visual cognition is subjective, and unlike the spoken word, relies on the viewer’s comprehension and interpretation of form, color, contrast and subject matter.

There is something of a knack to effectively achieving the best results over the broadest range of the intended audience. And while it’s not just a hit or miss operation, experience does tend to dictate what works and what doesn’t.

Photography is more of an art than a science. It is seeing what others might miss, or capturing the underlying essence of what lies before you.

And that’s a powerful tool in the arsenal of communication!

Plunging Water by Richard Weisser



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Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

So now I know to always call your work photographs.  Very good explanation.

May 29, 2010 03:26 AM #12
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Richard:  I've often wondered the difference between these two myself.  Now I know.  And more importantly, I know I am a picture taker.

May 29, 2010 04:08 AM #13
Jim Hale
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

A photo can be a work of art (a picture?) only if the person behind the image has both intent AND skill.


You always have both going of you.

May 29, 2010 06:18 AM #14
Rene Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
Marketing in the Digital Age

Great post (as always)... What I love about photography is peering into the picture to get the intent of the taker and how that affects me emotionally. Why just there? Why that angle, that shadow, that time of day?

Photography is a powerful communication tool. I love video, but the choices of subject, light, intent, and point of view are so much more focused. As one who loves photography, I never cease to enjoy the surprises that show up. 

May 29, 2010 06:42 AM #15
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - La Jolla, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Richard, This post is excellent and one that clearly defines both your intent and your passion. Well done!

May 29, 2010 07:56 AM #16
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Hi Richard,

Thank you for an excellent is clearly a very powerful communication tool. Your explanation is easily understood..always love your photos!! Have a great Memorial Day week-end.

May 29, 2010 09:58 AM #17
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.
Richard You can have all the intent hou want but without skill it is stiff ll just a picture
May 29, 2010 02:43 PM #18
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate


OK, I can run with this definition. Never really gave it much thought why some pictures do evoke more emotion than others.


May 29, 2010 02:54 PM #19
Nancy Larson
I am a licensed referral agent in NJ - Hutchinson Island, FL

A photographer is surely an artist. I grew up around two photographers and an artist and appreciate all of their work.


Richard you are truely gifted....

May 29, 2010 04:50 PM #20
Sussie Sutton
UTR Texas Realtors - Pearland, TX
UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers.

You said it all.... I got my trusty camera...and I am thinking I need a better one for some really great artistic pictures!

Coming to you from Texas...

May 29, 2010 06:27 PM #21
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Excellent explanation, Richard. And I agree whole heartedly!

May 30, 2010 03:42 AM #22
Christopher Pataki
Keller Williams Realty - Newark, DE
Hockessin Delaware Real Estate

Well stated.  I try to use both for my listings but am not sure I succeed at either...................chris

May 30, 2010 04:07 AM #23
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

It may be intent....but I'm afraid it's also about talent and skill.....all the intent in the world doesn't make my pictures anything other than snapshots. :)

May 30, 2010 04:38 AM #24
Tina Gleisner
Home Tips for Women - Portsmouth, NH
Home Tips for Women

I need to think about this some more as I guess there is intent in every action we take.

May 30, 2010 07:52 AM #25
Kay Van Kampen
RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX Solutions - Springfield, MO
Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate

I see so many great photographs.  I take a lot pictures.  There is definitely a difference. 

May 30, 2010 11:53 AM #26
Pete Deininger
Breckenridge Associates - Breckenridge, CO
Breckenridge Colorado Real Estate (970-389-0372)


Good post. What I like about photography and creating imagery is the blend of scientific and creative. It gets both sides of my brain working in combination to bring to life exactly what I see in my mind's eye.

May 31, 2010 04:45 AM #27
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Good post and very true.  There is a parallel and my motto, "Turning Houses into Homes."

May 31, 2010 04:53 AM #28
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Hmm. Thanks for the definition. I've always wondered. However, I think my own definition is a bit more expansive. But that's irrelevent. I agree about it being more art than science. So many things are that way. I personally don't have the equipment to take a true "photo", but it doesn't stop me from trying. I guess that's why I take about 15 (or more) shots of so many things, while moving just a fraction of an inch sometimes. Some achieve easily, and some of us just keep trying! =)

May 31, 2010 08:19 AM #29
Patsy Overton
Patsy Overton Interiors, Atlanta, Georgia - Duluth, GA

I'm glad I came across this post, especially since I missed my photography class last week at the FMLS office; however, I doubt this was covered in the training!

Jun 02, 2010 07:58 AM #30
Patty Mortara REALTOR CRS | Hunterdon County (NJ)
Hunterdon County Homes - Flemington, NJ

There is certainly a distinction, and you have figured out how to verbalize it -- THANKS!

Jun 03, 2010 02:12 AM #31
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