The Great Journey in Photography


Peacock Portrait

300mm f2.8 250iso 1/350sec-Processed with color pencil overlay

Google dictionary defines vision as “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination and wisdom”…. “A mental image of what the future will or could be like”.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about purpose and the need to have a reason for doing things. You can read that post here. The next step in the process is vision – being able to see what you are trying to do. A big part of vision is what many photographers call pre-visualization. Pre-vis is nothing more than setting up the shot in your mind taking into account lighting/weather, background, and pose. Often times we use another photo as a guide to pre-visualize the shot you want or just think about a situation that has worked well in the past. I think it is good practice to always have a bucket list of pre-visualized shots in your mind so you will always be at the ready. Taking it a step further, it can also be very helpful to make a sketch of what you are envisioning to keep as reference. Vision can also be a direction you want your photographs to go on any particular day.

It is all too easy in the bird photography realm to simply adopt the “you get what you get” mindset because there are so many variables that are out of your control. To a certain extent that is true but that is also where preparation and experience becomes invaluable. If the photographer knows what to expect from the wildlife and weather conditions he or she will pre-vis situations that they are most likely going to see. It is hard to do and it is pretty tempting to just take what you get and do the best you can with it, but I implore everyone keep trying. More than just subject and composition, try to see the backgrounds that are going to work well, try to see which birds are going to be active given the time of year and weather conditions, try to see the angle and quality of light at sunrise and sunset and before too long you will be hitting some bulls eyes. The harder and longer you try the more times you will hit. You will see what you get before you get it.

Less specific to photography is having a vision for your general game plan. If you have a mental vision of the different paths you need to take things are going to move along smoother and quicker. Take for example a person would really like to do a series of photographs of Bald Eagles flying to and from a nest. If that person can visualize those scenes in bright blue sky, cloudy sky, maybe even a snow storm, see how they want the tree branches to be laid out, see how the sun is going to hit the nest during magic hour. Follow that logic and you are going to be looking for scenes like the one that you have mental pictures of. Then, when you already see what you want it is far more likely you will find it.

If you want to leave it all up to chance – go spend the weekend in Vegas.

You can see more of my photos at


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