The Importance of Vision

Vision allows you to make important decision about how to shot a scene
Vision allows you to make important decision about how to shot a scene

I’m currently working on a new book which is probably going to be titled “B&W Mastery: Lightroom Edition”. The book is targeted at users of Lightroom who are trying to master the elements of black and white photography in the digital age, using Lightroom. As I was developing one of the Chapters I started to write about vision and realised that this is such an important subject that I wanted to share some key points immediately.

Vision is a term we see and hear a lot in Photography but it can be confusing. In my simple terms, vision is how you imaging the finished image to look before you actually create it. How you create the finished image is what you then need to work out. But if you don’t have a vision for the finished image, you’re not going to create a strong, compelling photograph.

The importance of having a clear vision is most obvious at two points in the photographic workflow:

  1. The point at which you take the photograph
  2. The point at which you edit the image

When you are capturing the image with your camera, having a vision will allow you to select the right settings to control the camera as well as use any special techniques. Important questions can then be answered such as will you use a slow or fast shutter speed to freeze or blur motion? How much depth of field will you use? Without a clear vision you can’t make these decisions and you’re reliant on luck.

When you reach the point that you want to process your image, you again need a strong vision. If you don’t have a strong vision of the finished image you will find yourself simply experimenting and not creating. Whilst experimentation has its place, you need a strong vision of the finished image in order to create the photograph.

The reason I share this particular image is that I shot it almost 4 years ago but never processed it until now. Now that I have come to review the image, I can immediately recognise what I was trying to create when I captured the scene. Recognising this allows me to quickly process the image to create the finished photograph.

So do yourself a favour next time you are out shooting. Spend time to develop your vision for each scene you shoot.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Vision

  1. It would be difficult to disagree with you, but, I am going to – slightly! There have ben many times when, quite suddenly, I have seen the image I want and “simply” set the camera up and taken it. My recollection of those times is that there appeared to be very little conscious cerebral activity during the process but simply a deep absorption. I just wonder whether, if I stopped to more clinically analyze and determine what it was I wanted, the final image to be then something of the emotion might be lost?
    However, let me add that, having read your excellent book “The Photographer’s Coach” I do, more often than not take more time in trying to visualise what it is I really want the image to portray.

    1. Thanks Allister
      I do understand your point and I agree with what you are saying. The difference for me is in the time it takes to recognise the shot. When it comes quickly I think of it being inspiration. In contrast vision is something that improves by working with it.

      With many compositions the early images are the best. Spend 10 minutes working the scene and you won’t improve on it. Spend an hour developing the scene and you probably can improve on the early images.

      Thanks also for buying my book and for the positive feedback.


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