I read a lot, and the book I am currently reading is Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision by David DuChemin. David is a documentary photographer who works for humanitarian organisations across the world, which means his photographs have sod all in common with mine. However, his thoughts on creativity and vision absolutely hit the nail on the head, and have given me agreat insight into my own work, particularly the chapter ‘It’s About Vision’. He writes, “Vision is the beginning and end of photography. It’s the thing that moves you to pick up the camera, and it determines what you look at and what you see and what you do. It determines how you shoot and why. Without vision, the photographer perishes.”
These words struck a chord with me. I’d heard David being interviewed on the Lensflare35 and Candid Frame podcasts, and he talked about how you should pursue your vision and not a style. What’s the difference? Vision is what you take pictures of, your message, what’s important to you, etc, while Style is the use of your lenses, compositions etc, that you use to render the image that communicates your vision. Does that make sense? I’m not sure I’ve explained it to well, but I would describe my style as contrasty black and white, wide angle, using strong foreground interest, framing and other compositions, to deliver my vision, which is documenting the sad decline of traditional manufacturing and mining industries in northern England, and their impact on the landscape. Or something like that.
You really need to read the book to get a proper understanding of it, especially if you are interested in documentary photography, or even if you are looking at moving on from snapshots and onto doing something more substantial in any field of photography. I’ll leave you with another excerpt:
“Vision is everything, and the photographic journey is about discovering your vision, allowing it to evolve, change, and find expression through your camera and the print. It is not something you find and come to terms with once and for all; it is something that changes and grows with you. The things that impassion you, that anger you, that stir you—they are part of your unique vision. It is about what you—unique among billions—find beautiful, ugly, right, wrong, or harmonious in this world. And as you experience life, your vision changes. The stories you want to tell, the things that resonate with you—they change and so does your vision. Finding and expressing your vision is a journey, not a destination.You can spend a lifetime chasing your vision, learning not only to see with more clarity, but to express that vision in stronger and stronger ways. It’s important to remember this because it fights against the discouragement that all artists inevitably face. The feeling that we’re seeing nothing new, have nothing to say, or have created our last good photograph. When that happens it’s helpful to remember that the journey isn’t over yet. As long as we’re alive and interacting with life, the world, and the people around us, we’ll have something to say. And as we learn and practice our craft, we’ll have stronger ways—better ways, even—of expressing it. ”
Click the picture below to go to Amazon to buy it!