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What's the difference between these perfective verbs?

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«Снять» is a colloquial expression, which literally means "take off", that is, "take [a photo] off", while «сфотографировать» is more formal.

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  • And of course be careful with you colloquials, as "снять девушек" means something completely different to "сфоткать девушек"! 😀
    – il--ya
    Mar 4 at 10:48
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In the context of photography, both mean "take a photo" and are pretty much interchangeable, although I feel that photographers themselves tend to use "снять" as their preferred professional term. The derived nouns фотогрáфия and сни́мок meaning photo and фотосéссия and съёмка meaning photo session, photo shoot behave the same way.

Снять can also be used for shooting videos (снять кинó to shoot a movie) whereas сфотографировать cannot - it's only used in the sense of taking photographs. There are some inconsistencies, of course, like you can say фотосъёмка and видеосъёмка meaning photo/video shoot, but you can use фотосни́мок and NOT видеосни́мок.

Снять also has a lot of other meanings not related to photo and video, see https://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D1%81%D0%BD%D1%8F%D1%82%D1%8C for example.

As for сфотографи́ровать, фотогрáфия and so on, in everyday speech we usually use shorter colloquial forms like сфóтать/сфóткать and фóто/фóтка, which are the most widely used forms in the common language.

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