It Starts With a Vision
Maybe you saw it as a way to capture the amazing landscapes you came across from time to time. Maybe it was the birth of a new child with whom you looked forward to wonderful times that should be recorded for posterity. Or maybe a camera just came with your new phone so you decided to see what it could do. Something made you see yourself as a photographer.
You may have grown up around other photographers and saw from them what was possible. Or there may have been a few family photos your parents made you pose for, and you didn't want to do unto others if you grew up to be a photographer. Not that I know anything about that, mind you. Maybe you really liked James Stewart's role in Hitchcock's "Rear Window" and the rest was history. However you conceived of possibly being or becoming a photographer, it took some time and at least some effort for the promise to be born out as fact. To begin with, you had to take it somewhat on faith. You had to take on the role of being a photographer. You had to see yourself as a photographer, even if an amateur one. It started with a vision.
Indeed, the same could be said in other ways about this pursuit. I mean, much of the camera gear we all drool over isn't cheap. Something makes us willing to spend that money. Something we saw, however we conceived of it.
Every image you shoot is based on something you saw. Oh sure, some cameras have an uncanny ability to fire themselves off while in your camera bag or just in carrying it down the trail. But all those images you truly shot were based on something you saw. Whether your shooting at a family occasion or a trip to a national park, or even a family occasion in a national park, the process is the same. You see something, and you grab your camera.
Maybe you're one who plans out their shooting itinerary and has a vision of what they'd like to photograph for an upcoming vacation. But even if you're more apt to leave things loose, shooting simply when the mood strikes. Let's say you become tempted by an amazing sunset on your way driving somewhere else. You pull over and reach for your camera. Even here, it began with your vision of the setting sun.
For some photographers, it may begin with the subject they saw. Perhaps it was a sunset or wild antelope or birthday candles about to be blown out on the cake. A camera provides a means to record that occasion so that it might be relived later or shared with friends.
But other times, it may begin with the image they saw. There is a distinction. An image is a subject captured with a particular framing and perspective. A photograph of a subject is relatively unconcerned about things other than that subject. They just happened to be there, and they get wrapped up in the photography taking together with the subject. A photograph that begins with an image begins with that framing and perspective in mind. Its composition includes the entire frame, not merely the primary subject within that frame.
Most photographers start out with that first type of vision, taking pictures of things as their subjects. Only some transition to this second type, a vision of the image as a whole. As the photographer, you're the only one able to see what you are photographing separate from the resulting photograph. Everyone else gets presented with the entire package, framed and frozen in time. It only makes sense then to care about the whole thing when creating images if you want to connect with a viewer. On first viewing, some may home right in on the same subject you initially saw and ignore the rest. But on subsequent viewings, most will find time to explore elsewhere in the frame. Just one of those things we learn along the way as we follow our vision.
There's a common distinction made when teaching photography, the difference between "taking photos" and "making photos," between a focus on the subject at hand and a focus on the final image on the other. It's just a subtle shift of focus. Merely a different way of looking at what we do as photographers. A slightly different vision.
You may have taken a class or read a book or been lured into the camera store at the mall while on your way to the food court for lunch. We all got hooked somewhere. We saw at least the possibility that photography might allow, and we decided to see where it might lead.
It's this same vision that continues to lead us as we continue on our way. It all depends on how you look at it.