"I don't photograph the world as it is. I photograph the world, as I would like it to be." Monte Zucker
A dictionary defines vision as - "a vivid concept, or mental picture, a pleasing imagination plan of."
Monte Zucker, quoted above was a Master photographer - his photographic vision placed him as one of the great photographers in his field. His extraordinary expertise was primarily in classic wedding and portrait photography.
Before starting with the body of the material, it is helpful to explain what the vision here refers to. It means moving an idea or an image forward to a conclusion - the print. I am not applying vision to the long-term photographic development of a person.
There are three major parts in the crafting of a photograph - the idea, the vision and the implementation.
The more experience a photographer has the greater is the source of data in the brain to call upon and raise ideas. The study of other photographer's work can be a great source of inspiration. This does not mean that we want to copy other people's work, but we should be stimulated from the study of good material. Then, an idea is developed by using our vision to create something different, fresh or new. This means that we need time to think about it and see the images develop in our mind's eye.
When I went for a qualification in the BIPP, (British Institute of Professional Photographers,) one of the judges said to me:"one of the majors differences between a Fellow (the highest qualification) and a Licensorship qualification is that the Fellow can visualize the final print."In other words a good photographer should create and see in the mind's eye the final picture. To accomplish this the photographer needs time to think, to develop the idea. Some people find this step difficult but it must be done if we are to craft something fresh.
Unless we know how to carryout our vision the print will not be a reflection of what was in the mind's eye. The digital photographer needs a number of skills to implement successfully the vision.
I recall an occasion walking with Monte Zucker and a group of student photographers through a park to a pre-planned location. Suddenly, he stopped by some trees, looked around and after a short time, he said to us; "here we have the three main lights - the main, the fill and the backlight (hair light). CAN YOU SEE IT?We looked around not understanding how it was possible in a park in bright sunshine how a tree and a few brambles would make it possible to control natural light to precise defining terms and effects as we had seen it done in the studio with artificial light.
No! We couldn't see it.
He grabbed one of us and placed him underneath the tree. Then by selecting a section of the tree and adjusting the subject's position he created a separation in the lighting falling on the subject's face. Yet, all the technical points relating to portrait lighting were in evidence. Simply by controlling the natural light he created the effect of the main, the fill light and even illuminated the subject from behind - extraordinary!
He picked up his camera, changed the camera back to a Polaroid film and took a picture.
In those days before digital cameras the testing method was to use a Polaroid film that gave you an instant picture enabling you to check exposure, posing, before inserting the real film. How much easier is life in the digital era. There it was - Monte Zucker could see it in his mind's eye what was invisible to us and he knew how to put his vision into practice.
Our photographic development or growth as a photographer is gradual and should be continuous - even master photographers like Monte Zucker never stopped learning.A great part of this progressive improvement takes place without the camera in hand. Thinking periods are invaluable. Again, not everyone is able to do this effectively.
Refinement of your photography will occur if you continually engage in critical thinking about your work - how could you have improved the same image? Made it different?
If your heart is fully in your work and if you love photographing the subjects you photograph, then you'll create great memories.