I’ve been thinking about the difference between photographing flowers on the first day I have them inside and the results I get when living with them for a few days. Usually my initial photos are not very interesting, quite pedestrian, in fact. After having them around for 24 hours, I do another shoot, and am more satisfied with the results. By the time the flowers begin to wilt I usually have a good photo or two, sometimes more.
Day 1:Good detail and color but not very interesting.
Having the flowers in my environment where I see them all day is important. In walking by them I may catch a glimpse of a certain angle of a flower or an arrangement of several that makes me grab my camera. Living with them I get to know them.
Day 4: It still says “daffodil,” but there’s more depth and interest. Your eye is invited to move around.
Many teachers of photography advise having a vision of what you want before you shoot. I can’t seem to work that way. Instead I take dozens of shots and only know what I’m looking for when I see it through the lens, sometimes not until I see it on my computer screen.
I became curious about how others work and asked several artist friends how they begin a painting or photograph an image. Do they begin with an internal vision of where they intend to end up, or do they allow the process to carry them along to a surprising end? My friend, a talented watercolor artist and retired high school art teacher sent me this in response to my question about how she works.:
“… In the past, I’ve always had a vision of how I want something to look before I start, but I can’t think of a picture I’ve ever created that met that expectation. However, only in the last few months (!) have I learned I should accept that a painting will take itself on its own journey and I should just enjoy the ride-along. Now that I’ve realized this phenomenon, I find myself excited about the adventure, instead of worried about the road map.”
On the other hand, a local photographer, River Wilder, whose work I much admire, told me she plans everything ahead, even to the point of sketching out how she wants the finished photograph to look..
These different ways of creating art are not limited to visual artists. Some fiction writers begin with a plot laid out in their minds before the first word is put down, while others let the story unfold as they write. I don’t know any poets, dancers or composers to question, but I suspect that any creative endeavor can be approached from either end.
There are people I know who have a pretty good idea of where they are headed in life. They set out goals, make vision boards and plan what they’ll be doing for the next week, the next month and even the following year. That isn’t me. I’ve never been much of a goal setter and I wonder if that’s why I work as I do – discovering what I’m looking for after much of the work is done.