Expressing your vision through your photography

Last Thursday evening I had a conversation with a club member which turned to the subject of me being a visual photographer.  Thinking about it later I came to the conclusion that I might be a visual photographer in the eyes of other photographers,  but I also fall into the trap of just recording images a lot of the time like the majority of photographers. 

Most photographers as quoted by David Hurn the former Magnum photographer is that ” Very few people who take photographs are visual. They do not see. They record, but that’s not seeing . It’s very hard to see.’  HOW TRUE.

The conversation prompted me to write the attached article about Expressing Your Vision Through Your Photography.  

One can only examine one one’s own work in detail  and reflect in hindsight if it is visual or not, and also go by the opinion of other photographers about one’s work if it is visual or not. 

– Sandy


Only you can see your own vision, but it can be transmitted to others through the images you make.

Your vision is the way that you as a person approach and see your chosen subject, and make images of it. Therefore expressing your vision through your photography is showing the way that you interpret the subject when you make an image. This type of self expression really depicts your personal vision and your way of seeing things, and thus formulates your own individual photographic style, which others viewing your images will recognise.

Your vision that you express through your images is how the image subject matter you record will be transmitted to the viewer of your image, who might see the image from a different point of view from you due to their different social background and standing.

To quote the photographer and art historian Professor Carl Chiarenza, “Pictures come from Pictures”. What he meant by this statement is that you have to examine where your photography has been and where your photography is likely to go in the future.

Therefore you have to start by looking at your own previously made images and ask yourself what you were trying to achieve in them from your vision, and did you and them achieve their goal. By carrying out this simple exercise which is very important will determine what type of images you are likely to make in the future.

By doing this exercise you can achieve three things.

  1. To see where your photography has been in the past.
  2. To see where you hope your photography is likely to go in the future.
  3. To see your successes and learn from your failures.

It is a well known fact that you can learn a great deal from your passed achievements in your photography, but you have also to be flexible enough to change your approach and direction for future achievements if you are not entirely satisfied with images you have made up to this point in time.

If you study the great artists and photographers you will see that they are, and were doing this all the time, reassessing there work and themselves. To quote the old saying, “you are only as good as your last painting or photograph.” If you are to achieve future successes in your image making you cannot rest on your laurels of your past successful images. You have to be constantly seeking inspiration for any future images you are likely to make. That can only be achieved through your vision and interpretation of your chosen subject and subject matter.

Take some time out to examine your previously made pictures and really look at their subject matter and structure and try and analyse why they were a success or failure. Only by doing this exercise you will be able to see where you have been with your photography and where you are going to go with your photography in the future.

Also by looking at you’re previously made pictures and trying to interpret and dissect them in your mind or by making notes, will you be able to see if you are achieving your photographic goals, or not. You will also be able to tell whether you are successfully relating your vision through your photography, and chosen subject matter to the viewer of your images.

If you find that you’re pictures are not easy to analyse and the message is confused you will have reassess the way that you make your photographs and change your approach to your image making.

Simplicity is the key to better and more interesting images as busy or confused images are not in anyway communicative and easily read by the viewer, as their meaning is not clear to them.

From the viewer’s point of view your pictures have to express your vision and your point of view of the subject recorded by you, so they have to have a clear meaning for him or her to be able to read them.

Finally we can all learn by our failures and where our weaknesses are by examining our previous pictures. Also by doing the above exercise you can gain better insights and more experience to make better images in the future.

© Sandy Wilson 2016

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Christina Marsh


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