Developing Your Vision

Let’s say you’re just like I was not so long ago and you’re wondering what all this “vision” stuff is about. In the "What is Vision?" section, I argued that vision is the ability to see a scene and know how to transform it. Seeing a scene is easy. All you have to do is look at it. Knowing how you want to transform it to be expressive requires becoming a student of the medium.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton was talking about science and how new scientific discoveries are only made by understanding the science that came before, but the concept has a direct translation to art.

Art is not made in a vacuum.

R. B. Kitaj

Every single picture you take, every single photograph you make, is a direct product of everything you’ve seen in your life up to that point. So, the answer for how to develop your vision is simple: Look at more pictures!

Ok, so it’s not quite that simple. You can’t just look at 10,000 more pictures and expect your images to improve (though wouldn’t it be nice if that were the case). You have to study the images. Imagine how the scene looked when the photographer was standing there and try to work out what they did to transform it into the final image.

Find photographers who have truly mastered the craft. Collect their work and use it for inspiration (See mine: here). Look closely over every element in the frame. Stop looking at things and start looking at relationships. Look at how all of the pieces fit together.

Then, and this is the most important step, go back and look at your own work. Really look at it and try to imagine how your favourite photographer would transform it to fit their style, to express their vision. Now that you can see how someone else would transform your image, all that’s left is to figure out how you want to transform your image, to express your vision.






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