Great photographs, and we only shoot great ones right, are arguably the result of creative vision, technical skill, and serendipity. Technique and technical skill is the left side of your brain in action. It is the rote familiarity with your camera that allows you to change settings based on your vision without having to think about it. It is knowing how to get the results your creative vision demands from your post processing software. Serendipity, on the other hand, is that gift we have no control over. It is that happy consequence we all are occasionally presented with just by being out there shooting.
Creative vision is the most important, ever changing, and most illusive ingredient that sets the exceptional photograph apart from the rest. Creative vision is seeing in your mind’s eye the perfect version, the final print, of what is before you and your camera lens. It is the right side of your brain at work creating your vision. The process elicits the left side of the brain to aide in the operation by, without consciously thinking, adjust camera settings, bracketing, etc. If Lady Serendipity happens to be present, so much the better; more excitement for your creative process.
To some extent creative vision is a gift or talent, but I also believe it can be learned and honed. Experience is a great teacher. Shoot images that you feel passionate about. Be aware of what your vision is seeing and try to achieve it in the final print. If it doesn’t measure up, and it often won’t, try to understand what happened and learn from the experience. Be a student of the work of other photographers you admire. Don’t try to copy their style, but try to understand what their thought process was and learn from their work.
Our creative vision is without bounds in our imagination, but is at the same time bounded by the rectangular frame of out camera’s viewfinder. The frame is our canvas and we paint with light, shape, and color all within a fraction of a second. There almost certainly will be a difference in what our creative vision sees and what the camera sees and records. In our mind’s eye, we see an idealized, final version of what our eyes see and our camera records. By mastering both photographic and digital darkroom technique, we can come ever closer to satisfying our creative vision.
Give your creativity room to run. Nurture and challenge it and encourage it to evolve.