Feb 16 2017

Why Do I Create?

2011-1-11 Road to Nowhere - Final 1-23-2010 750

I’ve been posting an image a day on social media and have noticed that certain images are very popular and others are not. Often I find that my least favorite images are more popular than my favorite ones.

2009-10-21 Diminishing Cliffs - Final 11-8-2009 750

Let me give an example. There are two of images in my “less favorite” group that are very popular, they are Diminishing Cliffs (above) and Road to Nowhere (top). Don’t misunderstand, I do like these images, but I consider them two of my less creative and more mundane images. However they generate a lit of “likes.”

Here’s my dilemma: each time I post one of those images and get a flurry of “likes,” I am tempted to post more images like those. I am tempted to create more of the images that people want to see.

Why? Because I love the praise and the attention…I’ll admit it, I like the “likes!”

So what do I do? How do I respond to this conflict of interests?

I stop and ask myself: why do I create?

When I first started creating images, when I was a 14 year old boy, I created for the pure joy of creating. I created to please myself.

But over time other motives crept in. I found myself creating for positive feedback.

Then I started trying to win contests.

Then I argued that I needed to build a resume in order to be taken seriously as a photographer.

Then I was creating to be famous and to be respected as a photographer.

Then I was creating to make money from my photography.

And now, after some fifty years, I have come full circle and am once again creating for the pure joy of creating. What a long journey I have taken to learn the lesson that my 14 year old self knew!

The truth is that “likes” (or fame or fortune) are not bad, but I could never be happy producing work just to please others, no matter what the reward. The buzz from a “like” only lasts a moment, while loving my images produces an internal satisfaction that lasts a lifetime.

Life is much more simple when I try to please just one person…myself.

Cole


Jun 14 2014

Visualize versus Previsualize

2004-11-1 Skeleton Final 4-24-2009 750

I have been thinking about two words lately: visualize and previsualize.  What do they mean and how are they different?

I’ve used both words to describe my creative process and yet I’m not really sure if I’m visualizing or previsualizing?

So I looked them up in the dictionary:

Visualize: form a mental image of; imagine.

Previsualize: The word you’ve entered isn’t in the dictionary.

Hmmmm…so previsualize is not a “real” word?

I then turned to the ultimate authority of the universe (Wikipedia) to see what I could learn about previsualization.  Here is what I found:

Visualization is a central topic in Ansel Adams‘ writings about photography, where he defines it as “the ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure”. 

The term previsualization has been attributed to Minor White who divided visualization into previsualization, referring to visualization while studying the subject; and postvisualization, referring to remembering the visualized image at printing time.

However, White himself said that he learned the idea, which he called a “psychological concept” from Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

According to Adams and White, visualization and previsualization are the same and this process takes place before the exposure.

2005-5-20 Rushing Waters - Final 5-28-2005 750

This has been my experience, that visualization takes place before the exposure. When I’m looking at the subject I can literally see the final image in my “mind’s eye.”

This Vision typically comes quickly and definitively and it guides me during the shot and the processing, helping me transform the captured image into to that visualized image. There is no question as to what the final image will look like, it is burned into my memory.

2010-9-17 Monotlith No 10 - Final 9-26-2010 750

Inspiration may come after the exposure and during processing, but that would not be visualization according to Adams or previsualization according to White’s thinking.

I’m grateful for the inspiration whenever it may come, but I do find it most useful when it comes before the exposure.

What has your experience been with visualization or previsualization?

Cole