Cultivate Your Vision

You may be asking: “Why would I look at paintings to improve my photography? Wouldn’t I be better off drawing inspiration from other photography?”  

Yes, drawing inspiration from photography is important, but not at first. Photography is too easy to copy without much thought. The value in drawing inspiration from a different medium is that it is not immediately replicable. Much thought is required to incorporate elements from a meaningful painting into your own photography. The process forces you to be creative. 

Remember, we want to be creative, not merely emulative. I could spend all my time giving you technical advice, camera settings and photoshop tips (all of which we will get to), but it would be in vain without first cultivating your own creative vision and artistic eye.

I mentioned earlier that my time in the Wildlife Art Museum challenged me on a fundamental level. Few, if any of my photographs evoked emotion, told a story, or conveyed a mood like these great paintings. Sure, there are obvious differences between photography and paintings. One of which is that the painter has total control of the elements and creates art from a blank canvas, while the photographer is often reacting to the elements unfolding before them. Truly, what the painters envision they create. As photographers we don’t always have this ability, at least not fully.

But rather than allowing that to become an excuse, I let it be a challenge.

What if I envisioned the scene I wanted beforehand and then went after it?

What if I poured my time into making a couple images of wildlife on a dramatic landscape that told the story of where they lived and evoked a mood?

What if my approach to photography was proactive, not merely reactive?

What if, accepting I may not have control over all the elements as a painter, I use research and knowledge of my subject and setting to reduce as many variables as possible and so increase the chances of making a truly remarkable image?

These were just a few of the take-aways from my time in the museum, and in the weeks that followed these thoughts produced some of my best work.