When you were a beginner, you figured out how your camera worked. When you were working on more advanced techniques, you struggled to find your voice. Now that you’re working to become an artist, you must learn to express your vision.
If your first thought when you started reading this section was, "Why does everyone keep going on and on about vision? I don't get it. I have vision. I see things, and I take pictures of what I see. What are they talking about?" I get you. I was right there with you. I didn't get it. I saw a mountain, I took a picture of said mountain. What else was there?
Rather unfortunately, the answer is not at all simple, and you're not going to like it.
The simple fact of the matter is, if you don't get it, you're just not there yet. Vision isn't something that can be taught. It must be developed. Vision is something that only you can give yourself. Vision is the ability to look at a scene and see something other than what's in front of you. It's going beyond seeing what's there, and seeing how you feel about it.
This concept will eventually make sense to you. Don't worry if it takes years. I didn't get it for a very long time. But, once you do, you will literally see the world differently. It's at that point that you're no longer using your sight, but using your vision.
The problem for photographers, as it is for artists of every other medium, is how to get that vision out of your head and expressed in your work. The difference is, instead of starting with a blank canvas, we photographers start with a RAW file. Instead of using paint or charcoal (though no one is saying you can't do mixed media and use those things), we use Photoshop and Lightroom, Nik and Topaz, Aurora and StarStaX. Our tools are digital, but their purpose is the same as traditional artist tools. Take the RAW file and transform it into an expression of the artist's vision, your vision; transform it into a work of art.
That really is the crux of expressing your vision. It's knowing how to transform an image from merely being a visual record into an expression of your inner-self.
When artists say they put themselves into their work, they mean it quite literally. It's not just that they put a lot of effort in. Rather, they are leaving pieces of themselves in the work for all to see. When someone shows you their art, be kind, they're showing you their soul.
If I haven't sold you on the requirement for post processing your work yet, then hopefully this will help. I say it here and I say it definitively, if you do not post process your work, if you do not transform your images to express your vision, you are not an artist.