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From the author of Turning Intent into Reality

Turning Intent into Reality

The beginning of our work is intention, or vision. A million eyes may look at your work and perceive it differently, but first it has to express what you wanted. It has to resonate with you before it resonates with others. And if your intent is for people—yourself included—to feel a certain way and look in certain places within the image, then you need to be comfortable with more than sliders and presets. You need to be comfortable understanding your intent for the image, and making some choices. You need to be comfortable using visual language to say what you intend, but first you need to know what you want to say.

At first glance, my premise behind Vision & Voice is simple: Know or discover your intention, decide what that means for the look of the image, and then take the simplest path to get there by establishing mood and leading the eye. That's really the whole thing. Where it gets hard is putting the process into practice enough that you become comfortable with the tools, so they get out of the way and let you make beautiful photographs.

From a practical standpoint, this means that you know what the mood of the image should be. Write it down: "When I saw this man getting into a cab in New York City, I was first drawn to the lines of his leg, and then to the colors of the taxi and his blue suit." Now you know more about your direction than you did a few minutes ago. Your image is about color and the line of his leg. You'll want to make decisions that draw the eye to the intent of the image:

  • You might consider a vignette to push the eye into the corner of the image where this intersection of form and color occur.
  • You might choose to warm it up to increase the feeling of summer heat in the city, or cool it down to increase the feeling of a cold spring day.

The more you understand and can express about your intention, even scribbled on a Post-it note by your keyboard, the fewer options you'll have as you proceed, and that means a freer course in your creativity.

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