I know I’m weird. And it’s probably just me.
But go and look at this page of search results for this blog: https://photomusings.wordpress.com/?s=shoot
What you’ll notice, if you care to look, is that I tend to not use the word ‘shoot’ to mean ‘photograph’. Most (not all, but most) of the occurences of the word ‘shoot’ and its variants here on this blog appear in quoted text.
There’s a reason for that. I look at the definition of the word ‘shoot’, and I think to myself “One of these definitions is NOT like the others. One of them doesn’t belong.”
Here’s the definition, lifted from the handy dictionary on my Mac:
shoot | sh oōt| |ʃut| |ʃuːt|verb ( past shot | sh ät| |ʃɑt| |ʃɒt|)1 [ trans. ] kill or wound (a person or animal) with a bullet or arrow : he was shot in the leg during an armed robbery | [ trans. ] troops shot dead 29 people.• [ intrans. ] fire a bullet from a gun or discharge an arrow from a bow : he shot at me twice | the troops were ordered to shoot to kill | [ trans. ] they shot a volley of arrows into the village.• cause (a gun) to fire.• [ trans. ] damage or remove (something) with a bullet or missile : Guy, shoot their hats off.• [ intrans. ] hunt game with a gun : we go to Scotland to shoot every autumn.• [ intrans. ] ( shoot over) shoot game over (an estate or other area of countryside).• shoot game in or on (an estate, cover, etc.).2 [ intrans. ] move suddenly and rapidly in a particular direction : the car shot forward | Ward’s hand shot out, grabbing his arm.• [ trans. ] cause to move suddenly and rapidly in a particular direction : he would have fallen if Marc hadn’t shot out a hand to stop him | Beauchamp shot United into the lead.• [ trans. ] direct (a glance, question, or remark) at someone : [with two objs. ] Luke shot her a quick glance |[with direct speech ] “I can’t believe what I’m hearing,” she shot back.• [ intrans. ] used to invite a comment or question : “May I just ask you one more question?” “Shoot.”• (of a pain) move with a sharp stabbing sensation : Claudia felt a shaft of pain shoot through her chest | figurativea pang of regret shot through her.• [ trans. ] (of a boat) sweep swiftly down or under (rapids, a waterfall, or a bridge).• [ trans. ] informal (of a motor vehicle) pass (a traffic light at red).• extend sharply in a particular direction : a road that seemed to just shoot upward at a terrifying angle.• [ trans. ] move (a door bolt) to fasten or unfasten a door.3 [ intrans. ] (in soccer, hockey, basketball, etc.) kick, hit, or throw the ball or puck in an attempt to score a goal : Williams twice shot wide | [ trans. ] after school, we’d go straight out in the alley to shoot baskets.• [ trans. ] informal make (a specified score) for a round of golf : in the second round he shot a 65.• [ trans. ] informal play a game of (pool or dice).4 [ trans. ] film or photograph (a scene, film, etc.) : she has just been commissioned to shoot a video | [ intrans. ]point the camera and just shoot—nothing could be easier.5 [ intrans. ] (of a plant or seed) send out buds or shoots; germinate.• (of a bud or shoot) appear; sprout.6 [ trans. ] informal inject oneself or another person with (a narcotic drug) : he shot dope into his arm.7 [ trans. ] plane (the edge of a board) accurately.
Now, maybe it’s just me, but if #4 there wasn’t in the list, and you didn’t already know this particular meaning of ‘shoot’, I think you’d be a bit surprised if #4 was added.
I know other photographers who don’t like to use the word ‘shoot’ when they mean ‘photograph’, so I know I’m not completely alone. And I know that occasionally, I fall into the same usage as everyone else.
It’s just that when I hold the concept of making a photograph in my head, and then I hold the meanings I associate most with the word ‘shoot’ in my head at the same time, there doesn’t seem to be much overlap. And when I say “doesn’t seem to be much overlap” I mean “the two concepts immediately retreat to opposite corners of my mind”. As a result, I don’t have a handy short single word to apply instead of the verb ‘photograph’. I guess I’m stuck with two extra syllables and having people look at me funny.
In the scheme of things, this is probably insignificant. I’m wary, though, of the way the multiple meanings of the words we use can mean that ideas and attitudes that aren’t relevant can get dragged into our thinking. As a result, I guess I’ll continue my stubborn yet futile resistance to this particular usage of the verb ‘shoot’.
Call me a rebel. I’m ok with that.