What is the image about?
Art must communicate something about your point of view. It can be simple or complex; it doesn’t have to be profound. In fact, it is very difficult to say everything about your subject in just one image.
What is your intent?
Why did you make the image? What drew you to the subject and is there an outcome that you want to express? Is it an emotion? Is it a description of the subject that you find interesting? Peaceful? Maybe it’s chaotic, beautiful, full of solitude. Maybe the size and scale drew you, or the struggles or change. Did it speak protection and safety, security, courage, pride, shame, etc.? It is satisfying to say something about being here at this moment in history: I have a voice and I like this.
We are artists using a camera to see with a new eye
We can see with new eyes, not just with physical eyes, but with the eyes of our heart. When you look at a scene in nature, how do you respond? Do you see past the stuff right in front of you (the river, the trees, the rock, etc) and have an emotional response? How do you feel? Slow down. Experience the sense of discovery and wonder of your environment.
Think back to when you were younger and remember a time when you felt the joy of discovery, or being on an adventure, or building a tree fort. We adults have lost touch with this playfulness. We need to embrace ambiguity and unpredictability. As a kid, my twin brother and I discovered a lot of the outdoors as we traveled cross-country by car with our parents during the summer. Mom and Dad were both educators and had the whole summer off. We would travel for months at a time, staying in campgrounds. I remember an adventure in Randsburg, an old ghost town with gold mine shafts all over the place, that my twin and I had a blast exploring. We climbed down into those old abandoned shafts imagining we were going to discover gold. We even found an old shack that was once a minors cabin and made it our own for that day.
The feeling that I experience at Gaylor Lakes the day this image was made brought me in touch with being a kid again. I knew there was a silver mine near the lake and wanted to see if I could make a photograph there. I ended up making it to the stone cabin right before a thunder storm started. I took shelter inside the fire place and waited it out for several hours. My mind started to imagine who was it that lived here? And how he had placed a window in just the right place so he could see the glorious view below. After the rain stopped I was more than ready to make a photograph. I know that being forced to slow down because of the storm really helped my photographs express my point of view, because I was seeing with the eyes of my heart.
Where do you get Inspiration?
Is it music, the environment, people, spiritual subjects, humanitarian things, sports, going to art museums and galleries, studying the Masters of photography, various cultures, your kids and family, or reading that inspires you? Do you have special memories that can inspire photographs? We will make more interesting images if we become a more interesting person.
What are you passionate about?
Think about what you love to do or wish you could do more of. We are all different and each of us has a unique history and story to tell. Thank God we are not all the same. You’ll find that your photographs will be much stronger when you are making images of the things you love. For me I feel most at home when I'm outside. Nature... Creation is all about glory! It demonstrates a designer's wisdom and power. We browse a one-man show in natures gallery that inspires awe of the one behind the creativity. The joy of seeing, savoring and sharing this glory is what motivates me. This is who I am.
The camera should not be your passion; it’s just a box with a lens on it. If you only love the tools, the medium for expressing your point of view, your expression will be limited. I know, and I must admit, it is very hard to resist that new prime 21mm Zeiss lens, but just making sharper photographs isn’t going to make great images. You may still end up with a bad image that’s sharp. Knowing how to use your camera is important and a vital part of what I teach in my workshops, “The three C’s of creative image making”, Communication, Composition and Craftsmanship, but by far we need to invest the majority of our efforts in making photographs that communicate our point of view. Check out my upcoming landscape photograph workshops and consider joining us on a visual adventure.