Photography is valued as a medium for recording and visually reproducing features of the world. I seek to challenge the view that photography is fundamentally a recording process and that every photograph is a record—a view that I claim is based on a ‘single-stage’ misconception of the process. I propose an alternative, ‘multi-stage’ account in which I argue that causal registration of light is not equivalent to recording and reproducing an image. Intervention or non-intervention by photographers is more sophisticated than the traditional view allows. Using the multi-stage account, I describe four models for producing photographic images and pictures.