Becoming a Vision-Based Creator

How vision based creating can guide you to your most important pictures and possibly enlightenment. Photography is such a public facing yet personal journey into creating. When we make a photograph we love, we share it with others publicly via social media. For many photographers, myself included, there’s an underlying pressure to create a particular type of work that while looks good, might not be in alignment with our vision.

The Scary Stuff You Need to Know

 Most popular photos via behance.net

Most popular photos via behance.net

Consider for a moment the most popular photography that you see online. Usually, it’s highly processed, well-produced work with a lot of retouching. We may or may not realize it but seeing this work can influence us to feel that we too need to make work that has a similar look. The pressure to create something that is not based on our unique vision is often sneaky and it’s silent. What I mean by that is as we consume photography that while good, is not based on what we really want to shoot, we are being pulled away from creating our best photography. This quite influence happens with every social media channel by design to manipulate us to creating based on ego - more lights, bigger cameras, sexy-sex-super-sexy, glossy kinda stuff. It’s the type of ego driven photography that screams, “LOOK AT ME!!!” and people do but for all the wrong reasons. Ego driven photography is surface deep at best. The lighting, color, and intensity of the visuals are rich but the content of the work is fleeting. You see ego-driven work in advertising because it works. Ego driven visuals get the message across aggressively. The viewer is engaged and quickly stimulated but once that feeling goes away they don’t often come back because there’s nothing redeeming to the work.

I can speak to this because my early work was largely ego based. The work was designed from the ground up to be visually aggressive, I called it “high impact” and it was. The work was good, it did well for my clients selling products and services. However, to create work like that now would distract me from creating my best work based on the vision I have which is based on who I am. Make sense?

Vision is based on how you see the world which is based on who you are as an individual. Your vision is unique to you so when consuming work that is not based in your vision, set you up to create work that is not based in your vision and therefore leaving you unfulfilled as a photographer.

Creating work based on ego rather than vision will direct you down a path that will slowly rob you of your love of photography. You might end up in a creative depression or worse, give up the art altogether.

Benefits of Vision Based Creating

 Oct of 2007

Oct of 2007

Creating based on your vision will leaving you feeling fulfilled about you

When you’re creating based on your vision, you feel genuinely confident about yourself. You realize that you are enough and are happy creating because it’s a reflection of you.

Creating based on your vision will bring you to a state of Zen and self-expression

Ever have a moment while creating a photograph that you lose track of space and time and everything just flows? That state of enlightenment is what you get every time you create based on your true self, based on your unique vision of the world. When you are truly self-expressed good things happen for you quickly especially things that you might have previously thought out of reach. For example, when I became self-expressed in 2005 I met my wife and we have the most amazing relationship. I wish this on everyone.

When you create based on your vision, knowing what gear to purchase is easy

Knowing consciously how you see the world and why you do so makes finding the right tools easy. This is true because you already know what the outcome of your work is going to be so then it’s a matter of finding the tools that work for you, acquiring them and getting to work. New tech does not sway you as much but rather inspires you because being in alignment with your vision, you know if a new tool makes life easier for you or not.

How to Start Vision Based Creating

Several things happen when you create based on your unique vision and it’s the most wonderful place to be as a creator. This will take work on your end and sorry but there’s no quick fix or plugin to make it happen but you know this already.

You must have a vision file and be actively working with it

Ideally, a vision file is a physical folder that holds work that inspires you. As you find work you love, add it to the vision file without thinking. Then come back to this folder about once a quarter and begin to look for similarities in the work which will give you a clue as to what you need to do next. This first exercise is the most important step as it directs all future vision-based actions.

Shoot Self Assignments

Once you get an idea of how you are seeing the world the next thing to do is create work inspired by your vision file. These self-assignments are going to be challenging but they should not be impossible. These assignments are tests. You might shoot a few and decide that the work is missing something after you added them to the vision file or perhaps what you learned is that you enjoy a particular type of work but you don’t feel a deep connection with it. In that case, go back to your vision file and look again. Self-assignments are challenging which is how you grow so expect plenty of fears to rise to the surface. Fears are an indicator that you’re doing it right. If it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong. Challenge yourself but don’t make it impossible so it’s easy to give up. You don’t have to travel around the world or spend a ton of money to get what you need. Be creative with your resources.

Find the support of photographers that you respect

The last thing you want to do is just put your new work in a public forum where anyone and their mother can comment on the work. In addition, you should no be discussing the work at length with loved ones. Rather, you should be working with a small Master Mind group of photographers that you respect and that respect your work. Allowing influence from those that don’t have a developed eye or that have a bias (your loved ones) will derail your creative development fast.

The Big Picture

Photography is such a beautiful art how it marries technology and creativity together. Creating your best work is an act of seeing, of being present which in theory sounds simple but in practice is quite difficult to do well. When creating a photograph, we’re often faced with challenges from within that rise to the surface. Our egos, fears, and imperfections are on display for all to see, judge and comment on. To create our most important pictures we must be comfortable with our nakedness so to speak. It’s when we’re operating with venerability that we become present and ever so close that state of enlightenment that occurs shortly thereafter.

One day you will die, your body will be processed by earth or fire or sold to some lab for testing and life will continue like it has for eternity, without missing a beat. Slightly before our death, we might be blessed with a moment of truth and if we’re lucky we’ll have a sense of satisfaction that we had lived. Hopefully before this time, we come to know what our most important pictures are.