Getting In The Zone

Getting In The Zone

Want to pass on an observation about myself as I’m getting ready to head to the Tetons next week for some early winter photography.

One of the buzzwords in photography is around this concept of “pre-visualization”   of an image.  Envisioning what type of image you want to capture when  you get on location.  Actually, you can’t “pre” visualize, either  you visualize or you don’t.  But I digress.  I personally don’t practice visualization of compositions of “trophy” images that I want to come home with. I’m fine if you do, it’s all good.   I prefer not to “set” my vision before a trip and be locked in to it. 

What I try and practice is just getting in the creative zone before heading out to a location.  Yes there are images that I might like to come home with, however, there is so much beyond our control as landscape photographers.  Weather, environmental conditions, people and access, etc…all of these things can hamper a tightly envisioned thought of what image we’d like to get.  

Instead, my “zone” is more related to 

     a) flexing my creative muscles, getting them warmed up before I go.  If you are not out shooting every day, you’re probably not in the creative zone all the time.  So, like any good athlete, you need to warm up and stretch the muscles.

     b) Sharpening my vision – being more attentive to my surroundings, noticing the little things, evaluating light.  I can do this at home, driving to work, walking to lunch, etc.  Any place I’m awake and observant, before I head out I am conscious of my vision and how I am processing the visual world around me.  I feel that this helps me better “see” potential images when I get in the field.

And lastly, the reason I don’t visualize a specific image ahead of time…..

For me to practice my art of photography, I need to be in tune, or attuned, to my surroundings.  It is important for me to have a connection to what I’m shooting and it’s through that connection that my best images will come about. I need to be still and quiet, listen to my mood, listen to the wind, listen to nature and hear what’s it’s telling me. I’m very much a “feeling” photographer in this regard.  Less analytical and more moving with the vibe of my surroundings to capture images and tells stories.   

If I visualize a specific image ahead of time, I feel that it would be disregarding any connection I may have to my surroundings once I get out there.  Things may not be “right” to capture the best image I could.   And, if you head to a location with a very specific image in mind, more often than not, you will not see many wonderful images since you are so focused on the “one” image that you specifically visualized.  

I think it’s best to let go of specific ideas and be more reactive in the field, listen to what your surroundings are telling you and shoot what moves you! 

So, as I prepare to head to the Tetons, I am envisioning words and feelings, not images……cold, snow, wildlife, textures, starkness, mountains, moving water as well as ice, all the leaves fallen from the trees, windswept, rustic, etc.  It’s with these thoughts that I’m setting my mental model to be the most creative I can be in the field.  

Bison Breath


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