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.
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.
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?