Vision Isn’t Everything.

In The Craft, The Life Creative, Thoughts & Theory, Vision Is Better by David1134 Comments

Vision Isn’t Everything. It’s Often Not Even the First Thing.

Those of you who have been with me a while probably never thought you’d see the day when I’d write those words. I’ve built much of my teaching around the idea that “vision is better'” and, specifically, have placed a priority on vision being better than relying on endless gear upgrades where more creative, authentic, or compelling photographs are concerned.

Over the last few years, I’ve used the word “intent” rather than “vision” because I think it’s clearer. It’s easier to act on.

Asking, “What do I want to say with this photograph, and how?'” is an intentional start to making images that say those things more powerfully.

But it assumes you know what your vision is, doesn’t it?

When I talk about photographing with vision, I get this feeling that people imagine me walking around places like Venice with a very clear idea in my mind of what I want to create. That is, I walk around, camera in hand, with a vision that is clear and developed and only needs some button-pushing to make it a reality. And I worry that those same people are wondering what the heck they are doing wrong because, more often than not, they wander around in a fog, with no idea what their intent or vision is. And I thought it might be a good time to tell you this: so do I.

Vision matters. Intent matters. Having some idea what your photograph is about makes it so much more likely that you’ll make a photograph that expresses that. What’s it about? What’s it not about? What needs to be in or out of the frame? Which choices about composition or perspective, shutter speed or focal length would best express that intent? So, so important.

But (again), it assumes you already know what your vision is. I typically do not. Not immediately. I’m usually wandering around in the same thick fog as you, muttering to myself in the hours or minutes before I stumble upon it. But I’m not wandering lost, not really. I’m exploring! (Which, I admit, most of the time feels like I’m wandering around lost.)

Exploration usually has to happen before expression.

When I arrive at a place or sit with a portrait subject, it takes time to discover what that place or person is all about. Even on the smallest scale, what is it in this specific moment that I want to express?  I often don’t know. You might not, either.

I recently gave a virtual lecture to a camera club in St. Louis and was asked to explain my concept of sketch images. In doing so, it occurred to me that the idea that we all show up to make our photographs with a clear vision—rather than one that is slowly arrived at or discovered, usually after some bumping around in the dark—might be a harmful one. It’s certainly not realistic for most of us.

This is why I use sketch images. It’s why I make a lot of photographs, seeing what things look like when photographed, exploring different angles, different shutter speeds, focal lengths, and compositions. Because my process usually looks more like this:

(click) Nope.
(click) Nope.
(click) Nope.
(click) Hmmm…
(click) Interesting, what if I…
(click) Nope. But…
(click) Nope. Drat. Oh, but…
(click) Ooooh, hang on a…
(click) This gives me an idea.
(click) Closer
(click) OMG. I love that.
(click, click, click)

With each phase of that process (which I have here compressed for you by many, many frames and omitted the cussing), I get closer to discovering my vision or what I want to say, and what I want my image to be about. Whether the camera is to my face or at my waist with the LCD screen flipped down, the process is not one of shoehorning my scene into the confines of my existing expectations. Rather, it is the exploration of that scene. It’s a process of discovery; I know when I’ve gotten there when the internal dialogue stops and it’s just click, click, click. When I’m caught up in the flow of it, that’s the sweet spot.

I rarely start at the sweet spot; I’m digging for treasure, and my camera is the shovel.

Dig, dig, dig. Click, click, click. But at some point, you hit the wooden top of the chest with a thunk—and you know you’re there.

The freedom to make sketch images is the freedom to dig in different places, not expecting to hear that thunk until you’ve done a little shoveling. It’s the freedom not to get discouraged that you don’t know exactly what you’ll find in the box once you get there. It could be astonishing riches (the vision for a body of work—hurray!). It could be one single gold coin (the vision for one photograph that you love!). It could be a map that leads you elsewhere: maybe not the treasure you hoped for, but the discovery of a bigger idea—or even hints of an idea—that take you elsewhere to dig.

Dig, dig, dig.
Click, click, click.

The longer I photograph, the more the exploration itself means to me. The more I’m content to let the expression of an idea—the thing my photographs are about—come at the end of a process that is not only necessary but beautiful and rewarding all on its own. The freedom to enjoy the search and the hope of discovery and to dig wherever I please leads me to make photographs that are not only stronger (and yes, more closely align with my vision once I unearth it), but I also enjoy the process more.

That’s why I make sketch images. Because X almost never marks the spot. Because it’s rare that I show up and discover that my first impressions of a place or a subject are my best impressions of it, or even my final impression of it. I seldom arrive to find my vision sitting there on the surface, polished and waiting for me. But if I do a little digging, it’s usually there if I’m paying attention and willing to get my hands dirty.

Vision matters. But sometimes you have to dig for a while with no sense of what you’re looking for so that you’ll know it when you see it.

If you’re not there yet, keep digging. Keep sifting through the soil.

Dig, dig, dig.
Click, click, click.

Keep digging, my friend. There’s gold there, I promise.

For the Love of the Photograph,

PS – If you’re here for the chance to win the Fuji X100F, you’re in the right place but the wrong time. This giveaway is now closed and the winners are Tiffany Luong and Daniel Bienvenue. Congrats to you, I’ll be sending these two beautiful cameras off to you this week! Thanks to everyone for the wonderful comments!


  1. Pingback: Why You Need To Do Photo Assignments - Morning Trails

  2. Great read! I loved the digging analogy, I find myself ‘digging for images’ in a similar way that you do. It’s so cool how flipping 2 settings can change the entire feel of an image. Definitely gave me some things to consider when shooting!

  3. Exploration is so important. There is so much we can learn from observation. Taking time to explore the environment around me always helps me find something that I enjoy capturing with my camera. Observing is also a wonderful way to pass the time.

  4. I needed to read this today I think. I’ve been in a funk with photography and have barely picked up the camera of late. Remembering it’s never the first image that is the “winner” and reminding myself that, for me, photography has always been about exploring and finding might just be the impetus I need. I also need to catch up with the podcast!

  5. Love learning from you! I am in the middle of the Image course. I use an iPhone and been looking to get a camera. 🙂

  6. David, I do get your point on Vision isn”t every but your book ” Within the Frame- the journey of photography vision” saved my photography and helped me lens with purpose. After Hurricane Harvey in Texas it inspired me to focus on not just taking pictures of the ruin but specifically taking pictures of pianos that were left drenched in the mud and flood waters and I began engaging with people through the loss of the heirloom pianos. So I want to thank you for that book that I found by chance! Since Harvey I do not feel my camera has been the same (too much humidity?) none the less I still take pictures and enjoyed your compelling frame series as well as the current one you’re giving. Although Im not really sure what to do with all the pictures I take, they at least mean something to me. I only wish that I could have taken more pictures (or rather meaningful pictures) in the Texas snow storm this week in Houston. Thank you for your vision and intent that will always be a part of me!

  7. Thanks David! Your articles and videos are always inspiring and helpful! I really appreciate all that you share.
    Please put my name in the Fuji X100F draw… thank you.

  8. Hi David, I listen to your podcasts A Beautiful Anarchy and read your newsletters and I appreciate very much that, most of the time, you coach us much more than camera techniques. And sometimes, like in this post, you demistify what it is to be a photographer and what it takes to make a beautiful or meaningful picture. It’s easy for an amateur like me to believe that pro photographer just click once and get the perfect picture; and now I know it’s not the case. And it makes photography that much more enjoyable for me, knowing that I also have to take a 1,000 pictures to get one great one. Thanks.

  9. Just came across a quote from Fan Ho:
    ‘I must wait until there is something that touches my heart.
    There must be humanity in art.
    If you feel nothing when you click the shutter, you give the viewer nothing to respond to.”

    If this means we have to click until it touches our hearts, then we must keep on clicking.

    Have a good day, and please put my name in the hat.

  10. Hello Davis. Do we have the right to speak French here? Come on, I’ll make an effort …
    I met you thanks to the training in collaboration with Laurent Breillat. I’m just starting out and I’m learning a lot. I am 59 years old and my photographic life is starting, it’s a wonderful world.
    My English is not great but I will come to your blog a lot, that’s for sure.
    Thank you for all this advice, thank you for clearing the paths to make them more accessible to us.


  11. David. Absolutely agree with your take on this topic. The more I photograph, the more I find exactly what you were saying – that my preconceived ideas about a place and those photos are rarely if ever what I consider to be the most “telling” photos of that place. The more time I spend exploring, learning and experiencing a location, the more personal the photos are and the better they express what I am trying to express to others. Thanks for a wonderful read as always. Long time reader and listener, first time responder. Yeah, what can I say, the camera drawing does make the fingers move on the keyboard!

  12. Such a valuable reminder to keep at it, even when it’s oh so murky!
    Thanks for the generous drawing – dropping my name in the hat!

  13. Please include my entry in the “hat”!

    I shoot documentary style a lot and I like to explain to clients that, while I can show them what a lot of my work looks like, it’s similar to “life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get.” That’s the same way I feel going into a session. I never know what will inspire me, what I’ll create, what moments will unfold for me if I’m ready for them. 🙂

    Thank you for putting out such wonderful content!

  14. I always enjoy your posts David – thank you!
    I definitely struggle with bringing my vision to reality. It could be a concept I have in my head, or an interesting subject I find, that I try to make into an interesting picture that tells a story.

  15. Hey David. I’m a long-time fan and blog + book reader. I love your writing — it always inspires me to pick up the camera and try to create.

    The hat is a happy surprise — please drop my name in!

  16. I think consciously asking what do I want to say is a great starting point! I feel like I need to slow down and ask myself this more often. I think I rush more often than not and disappoint myself in doing so. Love your photography and writing David! Please throw my name in the hat 🙂

  17. Thanks for this great post. Not just in photography but every aspect of life is a discovery, a work in progress. We just have to be open and curious. Life is what happens while we are making other plans 🙂

  18. There is a lot to be said for the click, click, dig, dig process but it begs the question of how film photographers managed when every image was costly in time and money. They could not experiment so freely and I think the discipline of cost probably was help to their intent and vision. Thanks for an interesting post.

  19. Another great article.

    I have had several teachers used to ask the same question – “What are you trying to say with this, and how?” And whether it was with photography or writing, it made me more conscious of not just “spraying and praying”.

    I saw Something there that convinced me to capture that image or that thought – remember what your intent was. And if you can remember that, then you can use all the other tools to shape the image or edit the paragraph to get to the treasure you described.

    Thanks for sponsoring the contest, and that whoever wins gets another tool in the toolbox to help find that treasure.

  20. David
    I have been a follower of your for quite sometime have enjoyed our time together have always found your work to be enjoyable and you push me to see better

  21. David,
    It is always a pleasure to hear/read your insights. Your singular view and your enthusiasm are always compelling.
    Thank you so much for your outstanding contribution to the craft of photography from a less common perspective.
    Best regards and best of luck!!!

  22. Vision – yes, I do have a vision. And, yes, I’m wandering, often wondering, sometimes sauntering in the fog.
    The joy of discovering plus the joy of developing something together with others, that’s what a wise man called ‚love‘ – and I agree with him.
    And that’s what I perceive when I read your words.
    Yes, vision matters. And I know what it feels like to dig for a while.
    Furthermore: Sometimes it’s the UNEXPECTED that moves you and helps you make your VISION become REALITY.
    P.S.: We have just founded a new school! That’s my vision becoming reality.
    P.P.S.: I’d like to make photos with the Fuji X100F. Please let me win it, I’ll send you a documentary of our first school days!

  23. Thanks for the continuous flow of inspiration. Your insightful posts always leaves me thinking about things a little differently. Thanks for sharing. Please add my name to the hat. Thanks!

  24. Great article, and so very true. Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts and wisdom!
    Pls put my name in the hat!

    Cheers, Jana from just up island from you!

  25. Thanks for another great blog. I think I probably don’t experiment enough with angles and camera settings. Then I get home and I’m disappointed with the results. It was such great light, such perfect frost, why are these missing the mark?

    On the other hand, when it’s – 25C I tend to shoot fast in order to get my hands back into my mittens as quickly as possible.

    Just at the tail end off your ImageWorks course. Thanks so much for putting that together. It’s the first time I’ve seen anyone connect the in-camera and post techniques like that and it’s made me think differently about the whole process of taking a photograph – starting with what I want to achieve or say and then thinking about how I can get there using both.

    Put my hat in the ring.


  26. Wonderful thought process, as usual. Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration, and for providing guidance for those of us willing to walk the path with you. It is always rewarding. You know, I used to see obstacles all around me, but now I see challenges, and I seek solutions for all of those things. Thank you for being here for us, and for helping me change my thought process for the better. While we’re at it, I’ll thank you to throw my name into the proverbial hat, if you please. Stay safe and warm!

  27. Hi David! It’s amazing how I see differently when I look through the viewfinder. Depending on what I am photographing, I may walk around the object for a while looking for the right look – my vision. And I may only photograph a portion of the object – enough for the viewer to recognize and envision the rest of the object/subject. My vision and style follows a quote from Da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

  28. Took me a while to get around to reading this one, but as always it was worth it! Love the posts and love the podcast – always an inspiration!

  29. Hello from sunny South Africa, David! Your words made me smile and give a me huge sigh of relief too. The camera clubs always speak of intent, and I sit there, at the back of the class, and hope that they don’t ask me what I want. I hardly ever KNOW what I want. But to my great delight, I always come home with 1 or 2 great images. Yes there are about 1000 other images of the days’ shoot on the SD card, but that’s because I have a VERY BIG SHOVEL!!! I would be delighted for you to add my name to the Hat. Best wishes.

  30. Hi David.
    This article is very encouraging. Without knowing that I was taking “sketch” images, I have found myself in one place taking a LOT of photos, (some times for an hour or more) moving around that location, different angles, rotate 360 degrees, hi lo to the ground, switching lenses, macro to telephoto.

    Then I upload them ALL into LR and say to my self, “What the hell am I doing? You are NEVER going to improve this way!”

    So thank you so much. With this encouragement, I will continue to allow myself to be enthralled with a place and just enjoy the process of looking at all the nooks and the big spaces.

  31. It often starts with a vision, but sometimes it just a flow. Have an idea, searching and just do it and see what happend next.

    I want to throw my name in the hat.

    Thanks Karsten

  32. Love your idea of sketch images… to make them.. not get rid of them…. learn from them… so simple.. so obvious when heard.. sometimes hard to do.. very often forgotten… thanks for that reminder 🙂

  33. Yours is quite a stoical approach on photography.

    I am not sure whether gold is always there, but one should enjoy at least the process (of taking photos), and then the result (the photos themselves).

    Thank you for all the inspiration.

  34. Hi David,
    Please put my name in the hat for the Fuji camera.
    Hello from Paris, and well done on your inspiring courses and books.

  35. David – it feels like our shovels must be extra heavy duty in these past and upcoming months. Seems hard to be creative right now – but as always, I find your words ring true.

    Warmest Regards,

  36. Whoa! Have you ever had this many responses to a blog post!! I wonder if it has anything to do with giving away a camera 🤷🏽‍♂️
    Great to see so many people interacting and receiving your blog posts though!! The good thing is you can forget about them all and just put me down if you like. Will save a tone of work 😂
    Hope you are doing well David. I always enjoy your posts.
    Take Care

  37. Dear David,

    Greetings from Indonesia. Thank you for all these years that you share photography insight & journey with us. I hope for the best to your future.

    Sincerely yours,


  38. David

    Thank you for all your articles. I love thema nd find myself learning and thinking a lot..throw my lot into the draw for the camera . Cheers friend–Peter Jensen

  39. Thanks for the continued inspiration. Not sure the fog will clear, but through your blog and your books, it is lifting . Just follow the process. Thank you

  40. David, your thoughts and how you present them continue to give me things to think about. They’ve helped me in my seeing, and my path to being better photographer. Thanks very much for all your writings.

  41. Vraiment intéressant, une vision qui m’inspire. Merci pour le partage de votre expérience.

  42. Hi David,

    wow, that was a lot of scrolling;) Thank you for your inspiration, as always. I think one of the main reasons why I love reading and listening to your words, is because I feel they have a deeper meaning where it’s not only about photography, but life in general. The search for meaning/purpose/vision in life. The “sketch images” one has to make in life in order to get closer to that vision. Finding out what to leave in and what to exclude. And not being concerned so much about having the latest, newest and best gear. We usually don’t know where life is taking us and we have to trust the process and keep digging. These are all questions we should ask ourselves not just as photographers but as human beings. I believe the answers we find can give direction to our life and therefore also to our craft. I guess it makes sense, since our art is an expression of ourselves, our souls. So, thanks again for your input and for fueling the flames:)
    Take care,

  43. Great article! Your articles/essays are alway’s so inspiring and that’s what we need, not the technical stuff. I own several of your books because, here again, they are so inspirational, they make you more imagery conscious!
    Yes, please throw my name in the hat for that lovely Fuji camera!
    Thank you so much!

  44. Dear David,

    thank you for beeing and sharing with me with all your knowledge…
    thank you for that feeling, that I CAN !

  45. Thanks so much David for your deep thoughts on photos, photography and photographers inner life.

  46. Thanks for this post David – and all your regular emails, blogs, books and courses that you put together for all of us keen photographers, it really is much appreciated – do please keep it going!

    And, yes, if you could include me in the draw for the Fuji 100F, that would be great!

  47. Thanks for inspiring me to think harder about my photography. And yes, please, throw my name into that hat! 🙂

    1. Bonjour David,

      Je viens de finir l’âme d’une image, qui m’a beaucoup fait réfléchir pour sortir des sentiers classiques de la photographie
      Je comprends très bien ce que vous voulez faire passer comme message en parlant de la vision
      J’aime être dans cette état , mais je ne suis pas toujours inspirée par un lieu ou une situation . question d’humeur peut -être ?
      Merci de nous mettre sur la bonne voie
      Je participe volontiers au concours .

  48. Thank you once again for the thought provoking article, so often you write about a topic that resonates with me, that makes me think and question and look at my images, each time learning more and enjoying the process immensely! Please also add my name to the many already entered in the draw.
    Thank You!

  49. Great Topic and something most of us struggle with. Yes please put my name in the Fuji camera giveaway. Thanks

  50. Hi David,

    Been a long time follower and fan of your work and teachings. Astute article, as usual. Thank you for your generous sharing.

  51. I would love to be entered to win the Fuji camera.

    Although, honestly, I enjoy your posts more when they come without a drawing, because then there are fewer comments & more engagement with them.

    I appreciate your speaking to your process. I’m at a strange spot where I’m losing some aspects of my vision, literally, and can no longer “sketch” in this way… Sorting out what can be done with what’s left…

  52. Dear David,

    study your Books deeply and be so inspired and full of energy now.
    Coming from Germany and books been titled ” Sehen und Gestalten” and second was “Das Handwerkszeug des Fotografen”
    Many Thanks for writing it.
    Kind Regards

  53. David, you know my name, I have been followin you since way before your CreativeLive sermon, and yes I want my name in the hat too, but I want to say it once more, I eagerly wait your posts and your mails once a month and I find in each post a hidden gem – or more. That is what I call a source of knowledge that never dries out. And I thank you for that. The camera is a nice addon, but the real treasure is in your words and your beautifuly anarchistic mind…
    P.S. Anarchy is a Greek word – which I’m sure you know – and as a Greek myself I have to inform you that it has a dual meaning: it firstly means without order αν-αρχή when αρχή means authority and structure, and secondly it means without a begining, αρχή actually means the begining of sth, so άν-αρχος is a word that we describe for example God, because He has no begining!!

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for this, Panagiotis. What a fascinating insight into the use of the word “anarchy” – really interesting.

  54. Hi David,

    I came across your book A beautiful anarchy first and when you started the podcast it was a new way of thinking about photography for me. A striking new way and I’m so grateful for all your effort and authenticity you put in your way of photography and teaching. Thank you so much.


  55. I have 6 kiddos and must hope that my subject is remotely interested in being in the same spot long enough to be captured after my aha moment. 🙂 Interested in the drawing if it’s still open. Otherwise, I finally did get back here to read the article. That is an accomplishment! Blessings!

  56. Votre article nous permet de revenir à l’essentiel, soit de prendre le temps de regarder notre monde (du très petit au très grand),
    et d’y trouver ce ‘quelque chose’ qui nous attire et qui va nous inciter à explorer de nouvelles façons de photographier ce dernier. La prise d’une photo c’est comme la profession d’un photographe c’est toujours en évolution.
    Votre article est rafraichissant j’aime bien .

  57. Still searching for my ‘vision’…..thanks for comforting me that it’s sometimes a long digging process.

    I am in a very specific photography niche of sports photography but yet I REALLY want to develop a unique signature (or ‘vision’) and I know I’m not there yet. But I’ll keep digging…. merci beaucoup David.

    and yes please enter me for the Fuji drawing.

  58. I can think of one shot in particular that I made where I had a “ crystal clear vision “ of what you wanted. I had seen hundreds of pictures of the Morley Church west of Calgary and most of them were taken the same way either fences alongside the path creating leading lines to the church and while it was effective it was also kinda obvious. I too had gone this route previously and I thought I was a genius only to realize I had seen it the same way everyone else did.

    What I hadn’t seen was how this church was sitting in a place where the prairies meet the foothills and it was part of a greater landscape. So on my way out to Canmore I decided to stop there just after sunrise. I walked about a quarter mile east of the church, waded through the tall grass and got low and it looked through my view finder to see what was already in my head. As Hannibal from A-team was known to say “I love it when a plan comes together”.

    Oh and count me in for the contest too 🙂

  59. David,

    Your book “Making the Image” was instrumental in my journey into making photographs as opposed to taking snapshots. Thank You! You’d think I could just read it once and “get it” but that’s not how it works. I have to go back and revisit the essentials as I evolve. Your courses, books, magazines, “A Beautiful Anarchy”, et. al. give me a pipeline into the mind of an artist. I’ve learned so much and continue to do so through experimentation and your inspiration.

    With reference to this post, what I’ve come to discover is that I’m often unaware of what makes a situation special until I’ve taken the time to absorb it. Sometimes the camera is ancillary and serves only to help translate what I’m seeing into two dimensions. The serendipity of discovering something I didn’t expect to find is priceless and what transforms photography from a pastime into a passion.

    Thanks David!

  60. I’d love to have a new Fuji 100F, so please throw my name in the hat? Maybe someday I’ll understand the vision thing; until then I’ll just keep following my nose and look at whatever catches my interest and play with it. Click, click, click.

  61. Wonderful discussion of how a vision develops. I often don’t realize what my photo is about until the editing process. If I’m lucky it gives me ideas for the future, but it’s surprising and educational no matter what. Thanks for everything you give so freely. And put my name in the hat for that free camera, too.

  62. Thanks for all the great content you share and for the inspirations. We appreciate you so much!

    Kindly include my name in the list. 🙂

  63. Thank you for another insightful article! I enjoy the digging also, looking for those nuggets that are out there, just waiting to be found. A Fuji would be a new experience for me, one I’m willing to try out.

  64. Still looking for my vision and intent… but I think I’m getting closer with finding my aesthetic. Maybe lurking underneath that is a subconscious intent. In any case, always appreciate your words and in this case, to reinforce that there’s nothing wrong with setting out without a clear vision. And yes please to the fuji 🙂

    1. Love the explanation of your process. Glad to know you too work through x number of images before finding the One or Three that bring the smile or awe. So glad I stumbled upon you several years ago. Your commitment to the craft, sharing of knowledge and genuineness is inspirational. Thank you David. And Heck yeah, throw my name in the hat, please.

  65. The line is long! You have a great following. I like your sketching and have used the idea for a couple of years. I like to immerse into environments and get a feel for things with the sketches, then get a sense of my goal. Thanks for your blogs, books. And no bullshit👍

  66. I’d love to think about new visons with a new camera – so please put my name in the hat, too.

    Thanks in advance, Janis

  67. Insightful and interesting as always – thank you for all that you do, and please put my name in hat!

  68. Great articles. I enjoy your inspiration.

    Please enter me for the Fuji drawing.

  69. Thank you David for the sound advice or being open to new ideas, having patience and being persistent with a location/subject. Too often we fall into the trap of going with our first impressions. Please add me to the giveaway.

    Thanks again

  70. Thanks again, David. You have an extraordinary way of expressing in words the thoughts and processes that one should go through to ‘get that image’.

  71. Ah, David, through sun and rain and COVID confusion, you once again bring me home to my visual centre. Nothing brings frisson to my life like photography. No one else’s words ground me in thoughtful creativity like yours. Merci. Merci bien.

    1. Dear David, I am engaged in photography for many years , searching for nice compositions, structures and details I see in my own way. Thanks for your inspiration and your statements that gear is much less important than vision and intent! Currently I take pictures mainly with my iPhone and even started Urban sketching to try out other ways of capturing my impressions. But with such a nice new camera I might surely expand my activities and creativity.
      All the best,

  72. An incredible amount of comments:D

    Just keep doing the great work and thank you for that. All the inspiration and motivation is what a lot of people are looking for.)

  73. Thank you David for sharing your valuable insights. There’s always something inspiring to take away in your materials even for an amateur like me. Stay healthy and please keep up the excellent work for the photographers’ community.

  74. Put my name in Draw for the Fuji. Often its difficult for me to understand exactly what your intention is, cause i’m not a native speaker. So i train my foreign english and learn something about your approach in Photography. ” Just go your own way” according to Supertramp is my personal resume.

    1. I have read many of your books (currently reading Start Ugly) and it is helpful to know that the vision doesn’t have to be/isn’t necessarily there at the start. This blog reminds me to take more time (and more photos) to get a better sense of how I want to tell the story. Please enter me in the drawing.

  75. Giving yourself the time and patience to explore is key.
    Please add me to the giveaway.

  76. Thanks for the reminders as always, and I agree that “intent” is a more helpful way to direct one’s thinking about photography than “vision”–intent is approachable, vision is more obtuse and internal. I really enjoyed your comments on content creation in The King is Dead as well, definatly satisfying to go along for the rant with that one, if I may say so. Please throw my name into that hat, I’ve become more obsessed with the fixed 35mm focal length since I switched to Fuji 2 years ago but haven’t pulled the trigger on a purchase of a prime!

  77. Hi David, thank you for this reminder to slow down, take some time to sketch and lean into these guiding words of intention vs. vision and exploration before expression. All the reminders that point towards how the thought process and scenes align before clicking that shutter for that decisive moment. Thank you for sharing your Fujis and the opportunity to enter this generous giveaway!

  78. Like so many others, I receive a daily deluge of e-mails which are periodically dumped after a mere glance. But, I look forward to your e-mails. The insight is excellent, but the realism and mostly cheerful tone makes it worth the time to pause and just enjoy your musings and coaxing us to do better. Thank you!


  79. Great thought about not everyone understanding what Vision is! I find that it’s a hard thing to explain with words.

    And then there are different ideas of what Vision is, further complicating the issue.

  80. Thank you David for all your help over the years. With a dozen or so of your books in my digital library and with your blogs, I heave learned a lot. Carrying around a load of lenses is beyond me nowadays so a Fuji F100 would be my dream camera. Sadly not in my budget so I would be most happy if you could put my name into the draw. Thank you. Malcolm

  81. Beautiful. Like all things in life, photography is all about the journey. Each day we go out with our cameras, we have no idea what we will capture and you have illustrated that point beautifully. I thank you. My son is learning to follow in my footsteps so I would like to be considered for the giveaway.

    Thank you kindly David.

    Many blessings to you and yours,

  82. I have to admit that I did envision you walking around with your camera in an almost saintly manner, creatively fulfilling your vision that you set out to shoot with. Having taken a few of your courses, read a few of your blogs and listened to your podcasts and radio interviews I now have a different image. It’s of you stumbling around with the rest of us. And I SO appreciate that!! Great insights as usual David. Please throw my name into the hat. Vision is better but new gear is pretty great too.

  83. David, a thought provoking message. I have to agree with everyone who liked your thought process.

    Please add me to the list of possible future Fuji owners.

    Thanks for keeping our minds engaged as well as our shutter fingers.

  84. As always, an excellent column with lots to think about. It’s amazing that David is so consistently generous with his knowledge, time and philosophy. It’s nice to have a resource in the photo world concerned with each individual’s artistry within the photographic process, rather than being fixated on trying to tell you the type of photograph ‘you have to take’ or trying to sell you more gear that ‘you just can’t live without.’

  85. Hello David,
    Thank you for your articles. It encourages me in my journey. I try to explore every day a little bit what is my vision and my intent. And step by step I grow up.
    I have only one camera and one lens. I study many possibilities with this gear. Maybe it’s time to explore something different.
    Thanks for accompanying me and thanks to Laurent breillat to introducing me to your lessons
    Have a nice sunny day,
    Best regards

  86. My 15 year old daughter is just getting into photography and would absolutely love a camera that she can experiment more creatively with. Thanks for the opportunity to win a camera.

  87. After reading many books and articles by you and other authors, reading and taking many photographs, I still feel that I have to dig much more to reach some relevant fragment.
    One question: can everyone who dig a lot hope one day to achieve some success? Or does it depend on some natural talent?
    I know this has been discussed in the past, but I would like to revisit this topic.

  88. Thank you, David.

    I have learned more from you over the years than you will ever realize. I read a lot of articles that provide knowledge, but your writing provides inspiration. Time an again, your teachings don’t just promote your perspective, but inspire me to discover my own.

    Much appreciated.

  89. I love this! This is exactly how it works for me. It takes (sometimes a lot) of exploration to hit that sweet spot. Good to know I’m on the right way! 😊

    And that’s a sweet camera!
    Thank you for sharing, David!

  90. “Exploration usually has to happen before expression.” There it is.

    Truthfully, David you and I have chatted now for almost 10 years, albeit once a year maybe, and I have credited you for saving my sanity when I first jumped into digital photography: all the “storytellers” out there, all the self-righteous youngsters shooting the disadvantaged, the homeless, the walking train wrecks all to make a point that their photography actually means something while everyone else are living insipid lives shooting flowers. All the “it” photographers who headline the big shows, have the big blogs, who went on endlessly how the 24 MP D3X was the game changer of game changers only now not to be caught dead showing up with it, being such ghetto gear. I am sure the D850 will be crap in a few years as well.

    Then there was your writings about vision. You even included it in your company name. I was on board with most you say, but in reality, most days I got more excited about what I might find rather than what I might create. I kept my mouth shut, knowing I’ve generally worked against the grain most of my life.

    Then I read your comment today. Again you do not fail to raise the eyebrow…screw vision. Too many people have it and frankly, most of it is either “me too” or simply not that good, in my opinion. And don’t get me started on “story telling”. A picture does not tell a story – a novel does. A picture describes a moment, a novel tells you about the sum of those moments, hence, the story. If a picture invokes a story out of the viewer, then he or she is creating a story relative to them and their imagination, not the photographer. So please, 23 year old kid fresh out of school with your 70-200 dangling off your hip, save us the “About” drop down on your website informing us you are a storyteller…insert eyeroll here…just cover the wedding and let your client show you their story.

    Moral of the rant? Get over yourself photographer.

    While we can make pretty pictures with a little effort and drive, at the end of the day, that sensor and lens do all the heavy lifting, you simply put it in front of something shiny and new (to you). Photography is the easiest trade/art to master where many can produce gallery quality imagery from no experience to maybe 30-45 days.

    It’s amazing what I will do for my new 23/2.0, er I mean the X100F!

    Ciao – Rob

  91. Excellent thoughts David. Thanks for sharing them. Please add me to the pool of randomness.

  92. Vision is indeed a hard concept to articulate. Adding your thoughts about intent and then about process have clarified the idea. Being patient, open, and allowing myself to be taken is where I want to be more often. When I am able to be in these moments, I tend to make my more meaningful images.

  93. Fervent lecteur français de votre blog et de vos livres, merci toujours pour ces partages.
    Et merci de me faire participer à ce Fuji.

  94. I, too, always hope something inspiring or unexpected in my work. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and insights.

  95. You’re perspective about “sometimes you have to dig for a while with no sense of what you’re looking for so that you’ll know it when you see it” certainly rings true for me. I love your introspection about the craft.

  96. Thank you, David. For the first time I think I understood what you mean with ‘vision’ or ‘intent’. I always struggled with it as my camera is a tool of exploration rather than expression. I don’t have a vision before the photo is done. If it’s a good one, I might find my vision in it.
    And, yeah, now you’ve got my name you might as well put it into that hat, too. Thanks.

  97. A refreshing view. So much has been written about the ‘decisive moment’ that it is easy to forget the value of working a scene.

    Please do put my name in the hat. Thank you!

  98. Great perspective on the photographic process. Love the honesty. It puts a different slant on the process i.e. practice, practice, practice etc etc, which is very important but also to dig down during this process to explore the process, subject and emotion that you are engaged in. This should replace the practice, practice etc with practice with purpose, practice with purpose etc etc.
    I am still very much in this process of learning and realize that this learning process never really ends. Of course that other very important ‘P’ Patience, patience, patience is also, key to this process.
    To practice and be patient takes time to evolve as we gradually slow down and show more consideration to this process as time goes by and we develop better Practices and evolve our vision and understanding of the process (lots of ‘P’s in photography!).
    Your blog captures this very well in an open and honest approach, that is not seen often. I would just like to end by adding one of my own philosophies , that is embrace failure i.e. never be afraid to fail because we or at least I am going to get it wrong more times than I get it right.

  99. Thanks, David, for breaking down that very high notion of “vision” to a more down-to-earth reality. In my experience the best pictures are those where you have a clear idea of how the final photograph should look like. Sometimes you get there, sometimes you don’t. And often this idea takes shape while wandering around.

    Many names are already in the hat, but please add mine, too.

  100. Thanks for another great article. The idea of letting your vision develop while working on a subject is so important. Please include me in the hat for the Fuji

  101. Dear David,
    thank God, for this post! Until now, I was wondering what’s wrong with me? Where the hell is my vision – when I start taking photographs and have no idea what I want to say with them, just because I see something beautiful or interesting. The vision comes later (IF it comes…). Anyway now I’ll be more relaxed when reading your books/posts and listening to your podcasts 🙂
    Thank you!

  102. i just photograph to feel good and content. normally i walk along the same path through the nature nearby. i’m always looking at the same szenes, but every day there is a different weather, a different light, a different season, a different feeling …
    i’m looking around looking for beauty, sth., that makes me feel good.
    it’s not a search for beauty by click, click, click… to increase the beauty. it’s looking for beauty by feeling “yes, that’s it”

    david, thank you very much for your enlightened blog

  103. I find your articles motivating and on target. I’m beginning to think some kind of journaling once a week in a small book with no lines on it might help me to record those moments that speak to me whether I have a camera in my hand or not. I think exploring what it actually is that pricks my interest and captivates my mood might help me to understand what I am drawn to. Maybe objectively writing down what I am seeing in front of me that communicates the emotion and mystery, like to amount of light, objects, distance, time of day, how many people are around or not around etc etc.

    I totally agree with you on Sketch shots and honing in on the image in front of me, experimenting with angles etc.

    I studying at PSC Melbourne (Photography Studies College), part time.

    I really want to ditch my bulky canon gear and grab a light weight Fuji. A friend got a Fuji XT3. It was like holding a feather that performs like a Ferrari!

  104. I agree with your article unless of course, it’s minus 20 and I’m standing in snow, trying to get a vision of the woodpecker or cedar waxwing or the flitting nuthatch in my camera sights. Then I’m happy to take as many photos in a short space of time and head home for the hot chocolate and the viewing indoors where I can plan a better shot for a warmer day… Unless it stays cold for yet another week…then I’m lured back out…..
    I’d love a chance at the camera prize…. 🙂

  105. It’s good to know I’m not the only one wandering around, camera in hand, in a fog not knowing what I’m looking until on occasion I find it. Thanks for your encouragement.

  106. Been following you eversince i got this interest to photography and your posts never failed to inspire me to be better not only in photography but in life also. Sure that cam would be a great ups for me if im lucky to have it. thanks David. all the best.

  107. Vision requires time, to stop, remove yourself from a frenetic demanding world and then start digging!

  108. The subject is more than at the right time for me. Recently I decided to bring an old project (in my mind) further ahead and as my Club photo of Sherbrooke (listenned to you there virtually lately) offered a mentor’s program, I picked someone I liked and she became (Emma Dion) my mentor for this project. I was surprised at our first meeting that she proposed that I draft what I had in my mind. I’m not very good at sketching but I tried to do something anyway. It brought my ideas to another level automatically. My sketches were not so good but my ideas were far better. With the pandemic and the recent curfew in Quebec I started a challenge in B/W direct from the camera without any postproduction. Then it forced me to play with the light and position, reflection, contrast etc… Each day I go to that process that is similar to your description here. Thank you, I am not so crazy after all.
    Can you put my name in the hat for the camera please. Daniel Bienvenue

  109. Aren’t we lucky to live in the digital age and dont have to limit ourselves to 36 shots and then change the film when something is just emerging? You are so right, we always have to keep an open mind to what is happening around us and work with that. To have an open mind is already the first step to ‘intend’ and just needs to be followed by patience and we are half way there, right? I would be delighted to have a second camera. Thank you for your constant inspiration and generosity.

  110. A really good piece as always, making us think about working the scene to get the best of the location. I’d be interested in how of this you recommend (or can get away with) when you taking shots of someone rather than some other sort of subject.

    I’ve eyeing up an X100V but can’t afford one at the moment so would love to be picked as the winner of your X100F.


  111. Hi David,
    An excellent post.
    In addition to your blog, I am currently working my way through The Photographers Process and your book “The Problem with Muses.
    I find that the Photographers Process is teaching me new ways to look at a scene. Chapter 2, in particular, taught me why is is sometimes not good to let the camera decide the “perfect exposure”. It is also helpful to have your insights as to “the How and Why.”
    The Problem with Muses is excellent as it addresses many of the problems I deal with, not only in photography, but in other creative areas as well.
    For a number of years I shot with Minolta and then Sony, but I have turned into a die-hard Nikon fan. That said, I would not want anyone to think I was predigest, so, in the spirit of unity, please put my name in for the Fuji.

  112. What better way to demonstrate that what we need is not more gear, but vision, or intent, by giving away more gear! I love it!

    Now how do I enter the giveaway for more vision/intent?

  113. ‘A comment’

    On this occasion, I am following your request to leave…

  114. Hi David,
    thank you for your honesty and also your wonderful photographs. Sometimes the process of exploration feels to me so hard and laborious. But sometimes (the good times), it feels like sneaking up and encircling the “thing” / “object” / “scene” … click, click, click … and the fascination starts to flow with me …

  115. “I’m digging for treasure, and my camera is the shovel”

    A simple mantra I can keep in my head when I’m out shooting … thank you!

  116. I’m just here for the X100F.

    Seriously, David, this post was a helpful clarification that vision is most often something that emerges through a process rather than something that starts out fully formed.

  117. Hey David,

    Thanks for always being honest and inspiring! Your emails remind me to not give up on what I’m passionate about!

    Also thank you for being so generous and giving away the x100 F!

    1. Sometimes I just toss all of the tech terms , advice and lessons all out of the window and just shoot photos with my camera. Other times it just seems as though my cameras have a mind of their own and freeze a shot unexpectantly or settings go way below what the lens is capable of. Is that common? A few weeks ago I had an amazing epiphany, that aw ha moment camera settings I heard discussed in a lesson but could never figure out. lol if I can only remember it half the time it would probably be
      more beneficia l to my shooting style. Interesting article, David thankyou . I am down to my last old camera and the battery is coming apart at the seams. lol I shoot too much. Thanks for providing us the opportunity to win a new camera, im in, lol awesome!

  118. Wow – I had to scroll a long way down to find the box where I can throw my name in the hat! An X100F would be a lovely companion. I came for the content, but sure – add me to your generous draw.

  119. What a great message! and it really hit home for me in a timely manner! I’ve always been confounded when hearing the words ‘photographer’s vision’ and felt lost as I don’t know what my vision is. Now I don’t feel so lost and understand it as a digging process.. Thanks for the insight and all your inspiration! A big thank you for offering such a great prize/gift to one of your fans, include my name in your list. 💐

  120. I always enjoy your articles and this one in particular struck a chord. My usual routine is usually to walk around a place for at least 10 minutes before I start taking pictures- that’s the first strike of the shovel. Then I get the “usual” shots out of the way- digging a little deeper. Then I stop, look some more and get down to the treasure. I’m glad to know my “routine” was intuitively a great way to shoot! Please add my name to your drawing. Thanks!

    1. Hmmm… You’d think a comment, any comment, would be easy to conceive and jot down, but complete freedom always makes me stop and think “what do I really want to say?” …Getting into the flow and losing myself to it is the fun part. Figuring out what I want to say, or to show, is harder but doing it leads to my finding flow… 🙂
      Excellent as always David, thank you.

  121. As always, worthwhile writing about photography – good stuff to remember. Thanks for sharing.

    And thanks for the new Fuji camera!!! 😉

  122. David, I think through the process of still life photography (it IS cold outside) I have come to that place where I can say that the light is beginning to dawn in what you are saying. All these pieces on the little table – how do I arrange, what to leave in/out, and how to maneuver the light to accent the scene. And it rarely is the first set up. These little days of indoor work have given me more “experience” than I could have imagined. I think we call it patience with the process – and not so much the end result. Another great article!

  123. Another excellent reading, thanks for the inspiration! Name in the hat, please o/

  124. I get so many emails that, I must admit, I usually just scan over them and pitch most of them… this is the first I’ve read all the way through in a long time. You really hit the nail on the head with this one, David, and it’s almost comforting to know that it’s not just me wandering around in a fog looking for inspiration that might lead to a good photo!
    Keep inspiring your followers – you’re doing a great job!

    While ‘gear collecting’ isn’t what makes a good photo, a new toy would be fun! Please throw my name in for the Fuji camera! 🙂

  125. I don’t disagree, but, as with a lot of things, there is no simple “this one way is best” answer.
    Speaking as someone who has done a lot of photo-journalism or reportage type work in the past, the “mantra” for tht can often best be described as “shoot first and think later”. Over-thinking what you are tring to do could easily result in missing the shot.
    I’d love to win the Fuji for days when I don’t always want to carry a dSLR

  126. I first found your work in the book Photographically Speaking and for me it was transformational. I had begun to seriously engage with photography a couple of years earlier and was very ‘stuck’ in the technical aspects of the craft. Photographically Speaking (quickly followed by Within The Frame, Vision & Voice and others) completely changed my outlook and approach. I would characterise this journey as one from single images, that were technically and formulaically driven, to bodies of work that are focused on story telling. The blog above reminds me of one of your podcasts when you ‘worked’ the image of a net fisherman, click, no, click, no, click, maybe, click move, click getting somewhere,…..and so on. Another great step in the journey!

  127. I was in on your presentation to the St. Louis Camera Club, and I really liked the concept of sketch images.

    I would love to have this camera, pretty much like everyone else here in the comments, thanks!

  128. So happy to read about this as it does feel exactly like what I am going though when shooting in the streets… Thank you David, and yes, may I ask to put my name in the hat for the Fuji camera : )

    1. I like the idea of being an explorer. It takes the pressure off the creative process. Thank you for sharing your journey. I could use that Fuji camera as my camera is too heavy so please enter my name in your draw.

  129. Love your thoughts, and certainly can relate to your process. I have found that I really need to get to know a place on a personal level before I can begin making images that I truly connect with and will value. It is a constant refinement, to continue to push further into that vision. I guess that is the beauty of photography in so many ways, it is a deeply personal experience to each of us. Thanks for your great work, and I would love to be entered into the drawing.

  130. Great topic. Definitely something that I struggle with. In fact, I’m realizing now that my internal dialogue about not “having a vision” for what I’m going to shoot before going out has been holding me back from just getting out there and letting creativity emerge through exploration.

    Thanks for sharing this, David!

  131. Thank you David for teaching us photography in such a wonderful way!
    A Fuji would be great for implementing what you just taught. 😊

  132. Buenos dias desde la Republica Dominicana!

    This whole mindset just does something to take the pressure off of shooting with a camera. It kind of brings back the fun of the challenge to create something new. I guess where the pressure might come back in is when you are given a short time frame with which to make magic for someone else or you’ve spent an investment of money for travel and your trip is almost over…

    Yes, please add me to the draw! That little camera would come in so handy!

  133. Thanks David, excellent as usual, please include me in your draw.
    Best wishes Jeff.

  134. This is a LOT like my “process”. I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    I bring my camera to get into a flow. It’s almost a mindfulness exercise for me. What is this place, this time, trying to tell me? Once I start to hear that elusive message then I work to see how I can capture it to share it with others. It doesn’t always happen (for me) but when it does it is golden.

    Much of my frustration with photography comes when I rush it. If I shortchange myself and don’t get into the flow, it’s not fulfilling and it starts to wear away at my enjoyment.

    Nice article, nicely put. And yes, I would love to have my name in the hat 🙂

  135. I’m amazed when other photographs produce a silk purse from a sow’s ear of situation or location and after many years of trying I still produce the sow’s ear.
    Many thanks for your insights and please put my name in the hat for the Fuji camera.

  136. David,

    Another thought provoking article, thank you.

    I have struggled to articulate what my vision is, I could not write it down easily, but I fully understand what you are getting at with your article. If I photograph an event I usually have an intent or vision of what I want to achieve or create however you are at the mercy of what happens during the event.

    The rest of the time my photography seems to be just wandering around and observing and things happen, a sense of serendipity taking over and things reveal themselves as you go along and you instinctively know you have an image which resonates with you, internally you just know. After all most of the time we are only trying to please ourselves with our images, feel personal satisfaction with our creation – if others get it then great, is that not the nature of art?

    Please include me in your draw for the camera.

    Thanks again and look forward to your next articles.


  137. I, on the contrary, make few clicks. Apparently I brought this up in my days when I used the Medium Format camera.

  138. Grüezi (=Hello) David
    The first step to a good picture (a picture with a soul) is to step over the doorstep with your camera! Thank you for your inspiring and motivating thoughts.
    Greetings from Switzerland

  139. I love this! I always want to get it right first time. I know that’s all in my head, but seeing it written down is like permission to play around. Thank you, David. Please put my name in the hat 🙂 Now I have to get back to your course!

  140. The term “vision” gets thrown around a lot, including by guys who call their stuff “Craft and Vision.” 🙂

    This real-world definition of what it really means is helpful. I’ve been guilty of overthinking “vision” as if I’m crafting an overblown artist’s statement about the meaning of life or something, when what it really means is just “what am I trying to tell others with this photograph?”

  141. Thanks David. Your blogs have always been very instructive . It’s content always depart from the usual stuffs that most teachers write and teach about. You’re coming to me also as photographic philosopher.

    Do I have a vision? Most of the time none.

    When something strikes my eye, I ask the why? And for whom?
    Then I capture the image.

  142. You always inspire! Your honesty and teaching encourage me to find my own “intent”. Awesome article.

  143. David, Even though I am in a season when there is very minimal shutter snapping going on, I still find your blog inspiring.
    A camera does aide with taking in the sights, and seeing things we might not normally see, but just being present with my loved ones has its rewards too. Trying to strike a healthy balance in this regard…
    Perhaps another camera, to share with one of my daughters, will make the seeing and sharing aspects meld together a little better.

  144. David,

    After years (literally) of following your work and trying to absorb everything I possibly can about not only your approach to photography but life in general, every time I think “Oh, this is it. We’ve reached the end of what this Master can teach me.” You bring out another gem that forces me to admit that I don’t even know what I don’t know. The idea of developing an idea from “aether” fully formed always left me both a little skeptical of those who claim to work that way and a little (more than) discouraged because I most certainly do NOT work that way. It is a relief to find myself in your company and to know that the path is there, pointed out by you, to those who will see the imperfect glimmer of an idea and “dig” at it until the form appears, slowly, from the sand.

    Here’s to continuing to dig.

    Thank you for all you do, but most of all, thank you for you.

  145. An excellent post David. Every time I go out with my camera I approach it a lot like that. So good to hear you do the same! 😀

    And yes, please put me in the drawing.

  146. I am 85 yrs old, been doing photography more or less since I was 14; I have belonged to oodles of Camera Clubs and got a string of letters after my name. But I am still learning, in & out of the fog, constantly digging for new approaches, and your articles are up there in my ‘preferred inspiration’ list. Put me in for that Fuji.
    Cheers from New Zealand
    Barry Doig

  147. Interesting thoughts. How often or rather how much of your sketch images do you keep when you find one composition, one set of lighting or one moment that excites you.
    Again what happens when you did not get the one which you are looking for and what happens when you are going through your sketch images and find some thing interesting which you wanted to try again. Do you go this same place again and start again with different lighting etc ?
    How do you keep track all such instances where you think you have found something interesting in sketch images and you need to go this place again ?
    Some of my Random thoughts from this Article.

  148. David, I am amazed about how much I have learned from you, your online workshops and your clarity in explaining some concepts that sounded obscure to me before. Thank you for sharing that gift with all.

  149. I always appreciate your blog posts, and this one does not disappoint. I actually have used your book, A Beautiful Anarchy, in teaching my music classes at Northwestern University and the Curtis Institute of Music. The quest for inspiration and vision balances with the technical, and both the artistic and more mechanical aspects of creating art require practice and patience. Keep egging us on to greater heights. And I’d use the Fuji as a grab and go camera — please enter me in the drawing.

  150. I have to admit I wander with an open mind, looking and watching what is happening around me without any preconceived idea of what I want. This approach usually surprises me…having a totally open mind…things do show up that are the images that make the day. Also I will admit once found that the shutter goes click click click as you mentioned. It is comforting though to know that you say you walk around in a fog until you see it then work it searching for the exact image that excites you. Yes, it is exciting to go home with images that say something and have vision or an intent.

    I really appreciate your in sights, books and articles over the years plus I was lucky enough to attend one of your workshops in Nanaimo a few years ago. Thanks again

    1. I enjoyed the dig, dig, dig aspect of photography, as well. Thanks for the article and I am headed to the read about how my bad image might be the most important.

  151. Very insightful and helpful thoughts. Thank you for all you to to help us photographers out here, especially for letting us know we’re not alone and helping us feel less silly and lost!

  152. Excellent advise. Thank you. Now if I can just find the time to slow down and let the process have a chance to work.

  153. Thabt process resonates with me.

    If all goes well, you will be speaking at my local camera club later this month. Looking forward to it!

  154. David, thanks for what you share beyond the technical in each of your blog posts!

  155. Thanks for the reminder of striving to get to it!
    And please add my name to the “hat.”

    1. (click) Nope.
      (click) Nope.
      (click) Nope.
      (click) Hmmm…
      (click) ahhh ha! …

      lol sounds like me until i find what i felt i saw!

  156. Well that’s a huge relief…..
    Thought I was doing something wrong.
    I love reading your emails, books, etc but the idea of going somewhere with a vision of a particular image in mind as to what I want to accomplish fully formed is just not me. I’ve read it a number of times from various people about having vision or intent and I always felt like a failure for not having it or feeling like I don’t have it.
    What you have said in this article is much more like what I do, taking lots of images from different angles, viewpoints etc till I get what I think ‘works’ for me. Working the scene so to speak!
    Thank you for sharing your insights/methods it’s made me feel much better about myself and my own way of doing photography

  157. I do this, but never thought of it as sketch images. Great description! Thank you for the chance to win the camera. I would love to win.

  158. David, thank you for all the time you take to produce these articles. I am 74 years old and have been following you for some years now, and found your writing helpfully and encouraging.
    Again thank you…..

  159. My mind blew up on Mallory Pier, Key West, sunset celebration. The original intent was to shoot the perfect sunset. The marketplace just before the pier is where it happened. There were so many opportunities. The lady with the craggy face wearing a straw hat selling shirts who befriended me and was the perfect image and soul with Key West chickens framing sketches all around; but it wasn’t just her. It was everywhere! But got to get to the sunset!

    I failed miserably. Must go back.

    Except for the sunset. 50 sketches among which was the perfect one.

  160. David,
    I am always amazed how your words, articles or pod casts never fail to hit me right between the eyes. You clarify things I didn’t know I wondered about. I read a lot by a lot of photographers but your words just align with my stupid brain in a way that makes sense.
    Thanks so much.
    Greg Steffen

  161. I appreciated reading about your process of “finding” the images and how the first howevermany are just digging to uncover it. Such a good illustration!

  162. Hello David. As usual your insights and teaching are a gold mine of inspiration.
    Thank you for your unselfish sharing of your love for the photograph.

  163. Thank you for sharing your journey and your experiences into photography. Also thank you for the opportunity to win a FujiFilm x100F.

  164. As always, thanks for the inspiration. I, too, have come to see the journey as the reward. Getting in the zone by letting go of the outcome I think I want, and embracing the thrill of discovery.

    My intent is to be fully in the moment. Rarely achievable, that too is part of the journey.

    And yes, please put me on the list for the Fuji X100f. I would like to give it to my daughter, an avid phone photographer. She would love it.

    Thanks again for the inspo. Lisa

    1. David, yup , yup, yup, more great advice! I would love to be included in the draw for this camerA

    2. I will throw my name in there for the fuji! Thanks for the insightful article and keep up the great work! I’ve recently started following your content after discovering you though the podcast you did with Daniel Sigg and it was very inspiring and possibly the nudge I needed to delete my IG and start shooting for myself. I am very excited to see what comes from shooting more and more with no expectation of immediately posting and/or getting the vacuous commentary of posting photo work on social media as well as shooting what I want without the external influence of what’s trendy or algorithmically successful.

  165. It is wonderful to be able to follow your thoughts here. This type of discussion is way more beneficial than f stops or a lighting diagram.
    And yes please, I would love to win this incredible camera.
    Thank you.

  166. A friend gave me “The Soul of a Camera”, I’ve been following your missives and podcasts ever since. In these times where we take more images in one day worldwide than the entire 19th century, taking 1 good one is even tougher. Sure; after 10 years of using
    Sigma Foveon I’ll give a Bayer camera a try. Put my name in the hat.
    (P.S. My wife and her traveling partners have picked Vancouver their favorite city – if your sequestered with Covion can’t think of a better place)

  167. Hi there, David. Hope this finds you well.

    I’m always eager to open your emails, looking for some directions. It’s great to know that i’m not alone in my search. I sometimes say to myself “yeah, you’re a beginner alright. You’ve been here roaming for an hour, pretending to be Johnny Walker and still weren’t able to find your gold!”
    It’s very reassuring and encouraging to know that, like me, most photographers need to dig in several places before finding their gold.

    And please, throw my name in the hat for that giveaway, i love that Fuji and the idea of using the restrictions of a fixed lens camera. By the way, thank you so much for that.

    All the best,

    Sérgio Vasco

  168. David, it is precisely not working the scene that I have been pursuing for years. It is a long, long road but it ends in the fullest understanding of artistic composition. I have been so surprised in finding it is congruent to music composition and, yet, it all makes so much sense if all of art is built on the foundations laid in nature; balance, rhythm, harmony, etc. Yes, if you are experienced enough, you will know it when you see it; but how much better to be trained enough to be able to make it when you want it. That’s what I seek; it’ll take a lifetime to master. First to know it, then the practice it and, finally, to teach it.

  169. Thanks for making the difference through your teachings as well as inspiring us to be better photographers!

  170. And, yet again, you take the stress off and turn the joy of the journey on. The exploration of a scene lends a type of anticipatory feel as you see where it leads you.

    thanks so much,

  171. Another great article! I always look forward to seeing your emails and the insight you share, and frequently refer back to specific books/articles whenever I need a pep talk. Thank you for this!

  172. You got me. Real good. I’ve been following you for a while now and when I saw ‘Vision isn’t everything’ I almost spat out my tea!

    As always, great words and very encouraging to find that we’ve got pretty much the same creative process of stumbling around until you hit on something!

    In all honesty though, I think it’s about being there, and being ready. When I go on my allotted, daily, 1 hour ‘outside time’ that this dystopic reality permits me, I’ll often have camera in hand and just see what I see. Often times it’s nothing, but when there is something, I need to be prepared and be present. Ready to snap.

    My favourite saying right now that rings in my head whenever I’m shooting is ‘f/8 and be there”

  173. C’est très déculpabilisant de vous lire et enrichissant aussi.
    Merci de partager le fruit de votre travail et de vos réflexions.

  174. Merci David de partager le fruit de votre travail et de vos réflexions. C’est très déculpabilisant de vous lire et enrichissant.

  175. Thanks for sharing this, David! I have been following your blog for three years since finding you in Vancouver. Thanks for all the helpful photography tips + camera giveaway (Entering my name). Waiting for the world to open up but have been happily a miniature version of it in my studio. Peace and joy to you this year, and lots of creativity.


  176. Hi David, A great post! It inspires me to keep “digging” and working to find that great photo just waiting to be created. Thank you!

  177. I enjoyed your comments especially about the process of getting to a vision – it indicated to me that I should enjoy the process of getting there more to expand my vision – Thanks for your lessons, they’re invaluable!

  178. Great article! I guess I’m often too impatient, to give some other clicks a chance. Maybe a new camera helps 😉

  179. A thoughtful and inspiring article.
    Some of us need to keep reading your positive articles.
    Thank you.

  180. I very recently found your blog and really enjoy it. Thanks for the inspiration about vision and perseverance. So many times I’ve vowed to put my camera away but after a day or two I begin twitching (figuratively speaking) and I get the camera back out and start shooting again. Except for my self-imposed determination to take & post a photo a day on Flickr, I really have no destination (other than my own pleasure which should be the main purpose anyway) for my images.

    Please add my name to the hat for the camera drawing.

  181. Dear David,

    I am in France and I am following your blog and I am subscribed to Laurent Breillat’s online formation given by you on creativity. You are very inspiring ! Thanks for sharing.

  182. Your blog posts always hit the mark on something that’s been in the back of my mind. Thanks for your insight.

  183. Dear David, I just got your book “the visual toolbox” (it’s the german translation, so the titel is a bit different). I already read some books to understand what kind of things you can do to and with your camera. But your book is doing something very different and when I read your intro, I was kind of like: where can I subscribe to this special photografer´s school of yours? I could handle 1 year with just an analog camera and black and white pictures.
    and one thing got me: it really is not about the newest gear. it is the never ending journey and to do the best with what you got. thank you for that. so I am happy that I am part of this journey.

    oh, and I really would like you to put my name in the hat, thanks a lot. fingers crossed.

  184. Love the idea of sketch images. How often do we nail it first time? Hardly ever! Would also love to be in the hat for the Fuji, thanks so much

  185. I listen to your podcast while I walk in the mornings with my baby. You have given me more courage than anyone, and for that I am grateful. Thank you!

  186. I would have never thought to call them sketches, but that is just what they are. Building from an idea, something that caught your eye, then continued and developed till something is there that is satisfying. As a fine artist as well as a photographer, I always find it fascinating when I’m reminded of art fundamentals that I know so well in “art” that apply to photography as well – such as making sketches and preparatory drawings for work.

  187. Hello, I would love to be put in the draw. Fuji bridge cameras are responsible in a large part for my love of photography and I was sad when they discontinued that affordable line of versatile cameras. But I have hear d great things, and enjoy the enthusiasm from your newsletters during this strange time!

  188. Enjoyed your viewpoint and how you expressed it. Vision has been a developing thing for me, as I guess it is for most folks. For quite some time, I had no idea what was meant by it. Galen Rowell’s comment made a ton of sense to me. “I like to feel that all my best photographs had strong personal visions and that a photograph that doesn’t have a personal vision or doesn’t communicate emotion fails.” Part of the reason I like going back to a place, over and over, is that my vision/intent changes with time. And, not to mention it, but the light changes every time. The changing light and my familiarity helps me capture with intent.

    And, please enter me into the camera drawing…..

  189. Great description of the sketching process with your camera. Keep up the inspiring words and pictures!

  190. Hi David,

    thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. Especially about Vision being something I have to look for.

    You made me:
    Pick up my camera again after some years without
    Changing my POV, especially with regard to the background
    Finally find out, what my camera is able to do, instead of always using automation mode
    Dehazing in post-production
    local adjustments in postproduction

    Where I still need help:
    Allowing me to stop what ever I am doing, when I see something to photograph. And allowing me the time it needs, to make those photographs.

    Thanks for being “the David” to us.

  191. Hey David! Thanks for the newsletter. Downloaded the Deeply Wild PDF as well. I really appreciate how much you are putting resources out each week. Truly inspiring. Would love to put my name in the hat for the Fuji camera drawing!

  192. Thanks. Walking around in a fog . . . so that is what that grey stuff is! Appreciate this as I think my intent isn’t often very clear unless I have to do a lot of set up. Something like a night shot makes me think and the extra effort makes me have a specific purpose. I am not always sure of what I want to “say”. If a picture is worth 1000 words, there are times I thnk Idon’t understand the language. Cheers, and I appreciate the chance at the Fuji.

    1. This article remember me a song TIME IS ON MY SIDE… the connexion between what we see and what we are need our investment and time , confidence and humility. Thank you to remerber us that we are not alone in this walk.

  193. Thanks David – insightful and helpful as always. And please do put my name in the hat for the X100F 🙂

  194. David,
    Whoa! You got some serious response on the giveaway! Add my name to the hat because I’ve had my eye on that ergonomic, featherweight Fuji X100F for a while.
    Your meditation on vision made me realize how difficult that is to articulate.
    It’s sort of like lightning—they say a charge comes up out of the earth to meet a charge coming down out of the sky, and where they meet—pow! Let there be light.
    That’s what it feels like to me—something in the landscape coalesces in a vision that resonates in me. My sky power is in the searching for all the factors of composition , etc. to come together. When inner and outer line up and connect, I feel the quiet “Pow!”
    I’m in Eugene, Oregon—do you know about the proposed Douglas-fir National Monument in the Central Cascades? Big trees, big water. You should take a field trip here—it’s truly amazing.
    Thanks for an excellent essay,

  195. Awesome topic. I’m a filmmaker and, even though I plan out my shots, I always leave time so that I can explore things on the day of and come up with fresh ideas. But I do definitely get frustrated, especially on client work.

    And yes I’d love my name in the hat! Thank you!

  196. The idea of digital sketch images is a strong one and something I’ve resisted because I don’t often delete in camera. I’ve always been more likely to keep clicking and then sort it all out on the computer later, assuming that what I could see on the small screen wouldn’t really match the image later on the big one.

    Shooting film helped me get past that in both being more circumspect in pushing the shutter but trying to train myself to see through the viewfinder what the image will become before the button is pressed. It’s a journey that I’m still on and hopeful to continue to improve.

  197. Thank you for making me feel less guilty just exploring and playing with my camera. Unlike the 7-basic habits, I don’t need to start with the end in mind!

  198. Unlike many photographers Who talk about equipment rules for photography and what can or can’t be done and then complain when others do or don’t do it ,I love the inspiration yes the vision the thoughts in the process of making an image that you expand on with each online submission.

  199. Always a pleasure to learn from your insight and develop new perspective. Thanks for all the great articles and eBooks – my library is overflowing!

    1. I just looked at your images. They are beautiful. I currently live in a very unappealing area, flat and pretty boring, so your scenics were a balm to my soul. Great captures.

  200. Dear David, thanks for your very inspiring “down-to-earth” article. I enjoyed very much reading it. My process of taking a picture is the same you described above. Often my pictures turn out to be better than I thought and this motivates me to continue taking pictures. However mostly, out of the average of 100 pictures I take per session, in the end I chose 1 or 2. Because they are the only ones that I consider acceptable. This shows me that photography is not about the pictures taken, it’s rather about the process of looking at the world finding subjects and scenes that catch our attention. As a matter of fact, as even as the world seemes everything can be a good subject. So it depends on how you see the world. You have to train your sight and start looking like a camera but adding the emotional side and getting an acceptable result in the end.

  201. Thanks for being so inspiring to many of us (amateur) photographers. Hope to learn from you still for a long time.

  202. “What do I want to say with this photograph, and how?” I’m finding in the world we live in right now, I am mulling this question over more and more….at least the “what do I want to say” part. Perhaps, the how I need to do some more digging on, perhaps that is where sketch images come in. So thank you for today’s timely article. I’m not one with too many cameras, I just have one beloved XT-2, and have yearned for this model….so yes, please put my name in the hat!

  203. Good advice, David. If the media with which one is working isn’t expensive or the time available isn’t limited, an iterative approach seems better to me. It’s fine going in with a plan, but we all know how well that often that often turns out.

    I’m curious to know if your exploration also continues into your post-processing. Do you ever unearth hidden treasure as you process your images?

    Please enter my name into your X100F drawing. Thanks!

  204. David, I read the subject line in my email and thought maybe you had cracked — ‘vision isn’t everything???’ Lol. You got me. Great insights as always.

    I would enjoy a name in the hat as well. Thank you, sir!

  205. I really appreciated reading this. I started off this year with a one photo a day challenge and I am still going. One of the focuses of this project was to motivate myself to explore new subjects and take different types of photos. Often during this challenge I don’t even know what my subject will be let alone what my vision for the photograph is. When I decide on a subject I haven’t photographed before I really have no idea what I am going to do with it at the time. I really work with sketch photos in this process. Just looking at the subject through my lens and testing out different angles and perspectives to see what really resonates with me. Thank you for writing this. It helps me feel like I am not so lost in these moments.

    Kyle Reynolds

  206. Thank you David, your words are always inspiring, I need to just keep digging and not give up after a few shove loads 😉 .

    Please enter throw my name in the hat.

  207. Thanks for breaking down process- even though vision continues to elude me, I love the honesty of process that you’re willing to share. Thank you for all you do and Be!

  208. Please put my name in the hat for one of those 2 Fuji cameras. And thanks for this article. Very inspiring. Greetings from Munich, Germany.

  209. You are so good at sharing your passion and your process, it is always inspiring. Thank you for making me feel like my process is adequate.
    And yes, please, put my name in the hat!

    1. This was so helpful to me! I love the idea of sketch images and I plan on using that idea in my photography and other creative pursuits going forward.

  210. What you call “sketch” images, I don’t do enough (impatient, I guess). As you gain experience do you find that you are creating more or fewer sketch images while shooting a subject? How often do you decide later that one of the sketch images is really the “OMG”?

  211. Thanks, David, for all that you do! I have your books, listen to the podcast (love your delivery style, by the way) and, of course, follow the blog. You never fail to inspire and make me consider how I might improve. I’d appreciate being entered for the draw as well 🙂
    Keep inspiring

  212. Thank you David.
    After mulling this post overnight I spent my 3 morning pages today exploring what your thoughts have triggered in me. I am always intrigued in how specific words, although similar, lead us down different paths. In your post you referred to vision, intention, creation, discovery, exploration, and expression. Not exactly interchangeable.
    And, of course, we all have different reasons for picking up a camera. For me it is a meditative practice – with a camera in hand my monkey mind clears (at least some), and I realized after writing this morning for me its about developing my ability to perceive what I see all the time but don’t notice. When I walk by a shelf of stuffed animals I would like to “see” ET in there amongst them. Perhaps with practice.
    Thank you for your post.

  213. Thanks David! I’ve been enjoying and been inspired by your photographic philosophy for many years now, and always appreciate your thoughtful perspective. Please add my name to the camera draw!

  214. For me- my best work is when a take a total break from the daily grind. It starts with a decision followed by the act of packing a bag, grabbing some cash, and walking out the door. Sometimes there is a plan sometimes I just drive. It takes me a day just to catch my breath, to clear my head. The driving is the bridge, driving clears my head. Driving eliminates all the office/work/home distractions.

    There comes a point where I take a deep breath and the anxiety stuck in my chest literally “pops” upon a deep breath. It’s like the starting gun for shifting my brain to the creative right. Sometimes a night in a tent works. Coffee on a campfire. The tempo changes, the distractions are removed …. I don’t think about it. I look. The rhythm of line, shape, color, time, and story wash away most everything else and I am free to explore and press the shutter at anything without judgment that it is worth my time.

    I carry a camera every day in a small bag. But I rarely “see” anything. I sew the traffic and think of the tasks I need to complete or when I need to be at a specific place at a specif time.

    I’m a Fuji shooter and have been chomping at the bit to try the 100V. Count me in.

    I’ll be glad when Covid is under control. My second vaccination is on Feb 9. I am thinking I need to pack a bag and leave after any reaction.

  215. Love your blog posts because of your straightforward message. thanks for the reminder that I have to do the work.
    Who am I to think the first will be the best.

    1. I’ve been a subscriber of yours for years. You words and thoughts are not only clear but inspirational. Thanks for being so generous to our photographic community
      Sure, I’d like a new camera!!
      Thanks, Jane

  216. I’ve followed you for many years and while this post is nothing new…everytime I read you talking about vision it helps reset my focus back to what matters. Thank you.

    ps. Throw my name in the hat – while I know it’s all about vision I would really love a chance at that little Fuji camera.

  217. This is so so true! You have to explore, and play! Also loving the “my camera is my shovel… Dig, dig, dig, Click, click, click” Anology! 🙂

  218. Thanks for this piece of insight, David! It’s reassuring that I don’t have to make THE image at once, the first time. Though with analog LF I don’t want to make too many test shots. And I don’t think I have to, since the process is much slower and more deliberate.


  219. As usual David you give us something profoundly worthwhile and ask little in return other than an unwritten promise that we go and make images. This blog post reminds me of an exercise I sometimes do which is pick a small area, maybe the back garden(yard) or any small 10ft x 10ft area in the woods – then take at least 10 photographs in that area. It really helps develop the vision and digging skills ….


    1. And sorry yes I would like to be entered into the hat for the Fuji – why wouldn’t I 🙂

  220. I need to shoot this way more often. I have, and that’s generally where I’ve done my best work, but I really need to make it more of a conscious habit.

    Needless to say, I’d love to be included in the camera drawing, too!

  221. Intent, Vision, Moment, … the mix of a situation and an image you imagine. !! Great article as usual.
    And put me in the hat for the Fuji X100F

  222. Thank you for continuously sharing your knowledge and also for sharing your workflow with us!

  223. Thank you, David; this idea and your words landed squarely this morning. Just the perspective shift I needed! Please also include me in the drawing. Thank you!

  224. (click) Nope.
    (click) Nope.
    (click) Nope.
    (click) Hmmm…
    (click) Interesting, what if I…
    (click) Nope. But…
    (click) Nope. Drat. Oh, but…
    (click) Ooooh, hang on a…
    (click) This gives me an idea.
    (click) Closer
    (click) OMG. I love that.
    (click, click, click)

    This is my process as well. When i spend some time with my subject, honouring what i feel it should be expressed as, i get results!
    And oh! I’m here for the camera as well!

  225. Thank you so much for this article. I have friends who seem to go out with a fully formed idea of what they are looking for. Me? Never. I’m the explorer type; and, I know it when I see it. My motto is ‘You just have to show up.”

    I have previously felt inadequate, knowing I did not have the same ability others had. Knowing you function as I do gives me great joy and relief!

  226. Another inspiring blog from David!

    Vision can be the last thing too..

    Of-course it’s important to get the framing right at capture, but sometimes that’s not possible. For example, when photographing lightning.
    In this case, cropping after the image capture will lead to the final vision.

  227. Thank you for all you’re sharing with us David. Your wisdom about photography reminds me of a photographer I met years ago in Connecticut, his name was Robin Perry. I don’t know if you ever even heard of him, but I found him very inspiring, just like you.
    All the best to you and many thanks for the lecture you gave our photo club a few weeks ago.

  228. Thanks for always inspiring us – not only through your final images, but through the storytelling of your journey to arrive there!!!

  229. It is Always Good to read about other peoples way of thinking and the way They do something to get to an solution. That makes me feel less stupid and it gives me hope.

    Thanks David.

    I also want to try my luck for a camera, so that i don’t have to use my Cellphone for my Photography anymore. So please put my Name in the hat.

  230. Greetings again from Japan🙏🏻🙏🏻🇯🇵🙋‍♂️! Another thought-provoking article Sensei David! “Vision isn’t everything…” I almost dropped my iPad when I saw this. I just completed your class on The Photographers Process and am now getting ready to dive into The Compelling Frame.

    As for Intent, after thinking about Intent vs. Vision I was trying to find a way to take it out of a theoretical/existential framework and make it a “more real-world, go out and do it” type of usable tool when I’m out shooting. I made a laminated card of this and keep one in my camera bag and one in my money clip now. For what it’s worth, try this on for size:
    I – Intensity (as in intense focus on what’s immediately around me)
    N – Necessary (what needs to be brought out and shared in the scene)
    T – Tenacity (don’t give up…keep digging, keep shooting)
    E – Engagement (with subjects and/or moments happening around me)
    N – New Perspectives (am I seeing this from the best position or angle?)
    T – Tired? Try Again! (there’s an old Japanese saying…”Fall down 7 times, Get up 8 times”)

    Thanks for making me think…and shoot! If your drawing pot still has room, throw my name in the hat please🙏🏻🙏🏻!

    1. Great interpretation of INTENT! One of the reasons I like going back to a place over and over again, is that I have a changing view of a place when I go back. Needless to say, the light will be different every time, but yes go with intent and vision..

  231. Thanks for this David. I really appreciate the points about exploration, intent and digging. These three elements have definitely led me to good places in terms of images – and to wonderful surprises like you mentioned – new ideas and even thematic projects that I hope to exhibit one day. Thanks for continuing to feed our creativity through your podcast and blog posts. Cheers!
    P.S. Please do include me in the chance to win a Fuji X100F.

  232. Thank you so much for this piece. I have always felt a sense of shame when reading about vision because I have no idea what my vision is much less possess the ability to express it in words. Vision was something artists must experience, something grand and mysterious, but I am more of a rather clumsy tradesman. But exploration, yes. Pushing onward through the nopes… I would love to be in the drawing for the Fuji despite already owning a camera that far exceeds my ability to use it.

  233. David, I truly appreciate this article because you’re right I was beginning to question why I did not seem to know exactly how I would tackle an image of a subject until I played around with it a little. I appreciate all of your articles but this one really hit home for me.

    Also, please put my name in the hat for the camera. Thank you.

    1. David, Thanks as always for your wise guidance along the path of photography (and life). Please put my name in the hat for the Fuji X100F.

  234. This is such a pragmatic insight- lots of nopes to get to the yes and that is the process. Throwing my name in the hat. 🙂

  235. Thanks David for your books and content. They have helped me look at photography in a way that helps me in some of my “blind spots” and made me a much better photographer! Throwing my hat in the ring.

  236. Thanks for the insight into your thought process. I love going out in search of photos.
    Throw my name in the hat also please.

  237. Thanks for everything you do, and the continued inspiration you provide. I’d also love that camera 🙂

  238. Thank you so much for saying that David – after many years of photography I’m still not a hundred percent sure what my vision is and I seldom go out to take pictures with a clear cut vision in mind. I find that something will present itself and after some trial and error I may have something that does represent what I would like to communicate. If it takes time for someone as phenomenal as you then there’s hope for me!

  239. You were right. Very surprised to see you write those words! Mind you your process as described is a better match.
    Please put my name in the hat.

  240. How wonderful that you were able to put this process into words (and with your usual touch of humor). I’ve probably done this at times without knowing it was a good thing!
    I’ll take that Fuji if my name comes up.

  241. Thank you so much David for all the inspiring posts and podcasts. Please add my name in the hat.

    Thanks a lot.


  242. Your article sounds like me trying to learn portrait photography with mostly me as my own subject – vision & intent only come after some considerable digging [into light, pose, remote control, lens choice, white balance adjustments, aperture & background look, killing or blending ambient light, and so the reading & practice & experiments continue].

  243. David, i so enjoy reading your posts. I am an amateur photographer but a professional potter . Your words resonate with me as a potter as well. I keep experimenting with techniques, mediums and tools with the vision that something wonderful will come from it, there are many fails but from the fail, come more inspiration. My intent this year is too take better product photos and I go through the same process as you do until i come up with the perfect photo.

    Please enter me into your contest. What a wonderful opportunity.

  244. Thank you for your insights on photography. I find them helpful in my development as a photographer.

  245. We’re so lucky you have the heart of a teacher. Thank you for breaking it down and inspiring those of us trying to fumble and find our way.

    All the best,

    1. Would love to be entered to win (sorry didn’t include in my first comment)

      Thank you David

  246. I have noticed that more and more, this is exactly how it goes for me as well. Especially with portrait subjects, these “sketches” are not only necessary for me, but I’ve noticed for the subjects as well. They make it clear to me where I want the session to go and it gives the subject the confidence to relax more and more.
    And yes, I would love to have the change to win that beautiful shovel, the X100F.

  247. Really like this explanation of intent and vision, thanks. Would love to win the camera.

  248. Many thanks again David for your wisdom and transparency. Knowing someone even like you(!) goes through this process is very encouraging as well as instructive. So much appreciate your teaching and blogs. Please put my name in the proverbial hat!

  249. Hello David. I discovered your photographic approach thanks to Laurent Breillat’s blog. Since then I had the opportunity to test 2 of your training courses that I really appreciated. Your speech is reassuring and motivating for the beginner that I am. Thank you for your good advice! Can you please add my name to the already long list? Thank you for sharing your vision

  250. Thank you, some times it can be disheartening if you can’t quite get the photo you are after. It helps to know others can have to same problem and there is support out there when inspiration is low.

    Please add my name in the hat.

  251. Hello David. I discovered your approach to photography via Laurent Breillat’s blog. I have since had the opportunity to follow some of your training and their content has made me evolve in my practice. I find your approach reassuring for the beginner that I am and this article encourages me to keep digging. Please also add me to the names already on the list. thank you for everything

  252. Thank you David for all the inspiring posts. I can’t stop reading them.
    Please put my name in the hat.


  253. Setting out to take the perfect photograph may never work. Seeing the perfect photograph and being able to take it in time just might. Right time, right place, rather than right equipment perhaps?

  254. Thank you for this excellent article, David!

    In the many years I’ve been following you it became more and more clear to me what this “vision” is your were always talking about. I believe this post puts it in a nutshell, clear and understandable for everyone. And it is exactly how I feel when I’m out with my camera, on occassions where I’m not having a clear goal what to photograph (like birds, butterflies etc). But it also encourages me to keep working harder and digging deeper at times when there seems to be no “vision” 😉

    Would love to be part of the Fuji lottery 🙂

  255. Thanks, David, for another inspiring read!

    I fully agree that intent or vision are crucial, but as you say, they are hard to pin down, and maybe it is necessary to clarify the different levels these concepts are being used for?

    Maybe I want to capture the beauty of Venice, and that’s why I am in Venice with my camera, trying to figure out how to best capture what I see? And maybe I figure out that I really like to capture the melancholy of fog in Venice…

    The ‘intent’ here seems rather vague, and it might be much more precisely defined in an assignment, or a well defined project.

    Isn’t it an iterative process? Starting vague, and refining based on what I encounter?

    Wonderful to discover in this way what really excites me, especially if that is something I wasn’t fully aware of. That’s what make photography so much fun, and so worthwhile, in my view.

    But it’s also here where I feel feedback is so important, and the chance to discuss with others. To play with ideas, to see whether others can see what I mean…

    You point us in a good direction, I think – but we need more chance to interact! Very much looking forward to that chance!

    Thanks a lot, and have a great week!


  256. David,

    I have always wondered about how accomplished photographers get to what constitutes a successful image. I would look at an image and see a certain quality in terms of angle, color, tonality and moment. I definitely saw those qualities in many images in photo books or online and, for the life of me, I was unable to make an image that would have any, and certainly not all, of those traits.

    Early on, I thought it was the gear that allowed the masters to produce engaging photos. So I got better gear – to no avail. Then I figured it would take an exotic location to make such good images. So I started going to places hoping to return with imagery closer to what I saw in my mind’s eye. Still no luck. And then I read Photographically Speaking and bingo. Now I make pictures with intent and the process is so much more enjoyable. I now actually feel like I have become a photographer and am indeed making images vs. taking shots. I am not yet always successful by any means but photography for me is all intentional now. And because there is intent in the process, or rather intent is what drives the process, there is something to pursue vs. just seeing something, clicking the shutter and walking away with a shot. And so that pursuit is what takes digging and perseverance. The result is much more rewarding, too, knowing that I worked on the image. I no longer fear that I lack (and others surely have) whatever talent it takes, to create successful photographs.

    Thanks to your inspiring writings, books, podcast, that I am more determined than ever to pursue photography and get my work out there. I don’t yet have a website but I am working on one.


    1. I almost forgot to mention that I would like to be in for the X100F.


  257. Dear David, I worked as graphic designer along 25 years but in 2015 I quit, changing completely my career: I became a wellnes instructor. This experience tought me a simple idea: wathever you want to learn and master you have to train. You want to build muscle? Train. You want to run faster? Train. You want to be a better photograper? Train. And fail. Learn from your failure and build on it. This process spreads both at macro level (studying tecnique, masters of photogtaphy and so on) and at “micro” level, when you are on location (click, click, click…).
    Stay healthy
    Fabio Rizzo

  258. Interesting post, as always. You do have talent to put in word a process of thought or a thing we might all be subject to.

    Oh, and you can put my name in the hat 🙂

  259. Hi David. Great topic, I usually go out to see what photos might interest me, and further on, my friends. I never know what I am going to come across by the end of the trip. Even on bad weather days, I will come home with something, not necessarily an OMG shot, but something. Sometimes, it is worth taking the time to set up at a location and wait for the photo to come to you. I have had some successes doing just that. Please put my name in the hat too. Many thanks, Ron.

  260. From Nairobi, Kenya, with love! I enjoy every one of your articles and of course, I’d love to win the camera. I have had a Fuji X-T1 for 2 and a half years and to say the least, I am blown away!

  261. Sounds like a point in favour of the photographic project! A project allows one to approach a given place or theme time and again. The “vision”, or your individual point of view is refined iteratively as you proceed. In my own projects, the first couple of months rarely yield any pictures which make it into the final selection. However, the few pictures from that period that work often act as beacons which hint at the future direction.

    Best, Thomas

    PS: I don’t want the X100F, as I already own two cameras which is too much of a distraction!

  262. From Nairobi, Kenya, with love! IU enjoy every one of your articles and of course, I’d love to win the camera. I have had a Fuji X-T1 for 2 and a half years and to say the least, I am blown away!

  263. Very inspiring again! And personally, the acquisition of your course “the photographer’s process” was a great one for me. I can only recommend this video course to anybody who has read this article and likes it. The video course takes this concept and explains it very profoundly and usable!

    Thanks again David!

  264. Man… So much scrolling just to leave a comment and hi. Thank you for your relentless writings on the the subject we all love. Can’t remember how I found you and your newsletter now, but it remains one of the few emails I enjoy receiving. Keep it up! The answer is of course, to take it back to the old school. Analogue. A 50mm prime. 36 frames and patience. Aroha from Aotearoa, EJ.

  265. David,

    Yet again you continue to hit the nail on the head. As an amateur photographer who thought I wanted to take better photos, I’ve recently come to the realisation that it’s not always about taking good photos, it’s about taking photos with meaning. I’ve spent too long hoping for the perfect light, making sure I obeyed the rule of thirds, having pin sharp focus and perfect exposure. What I wasn’t doing was making photos with meaning. I think this is similar to your intent, we all go out wanting to take “nice” photos and that is ok sometimes but what if we want to move beyond the snapshot to capture a feeling or something we are passionate about? Then you need to ask yourself, what do I want this photograph to say about me? Because at the end of the day no one will ever take a photograph like you do so you might as well show what you intended and with meaning, no matter how long it takes. Keep up the great work, your a fantastic source of knowledge and inspiration.

  266. Hi!
    David, you are awe inspiring and an constant inspiration to us all – me included. After a long hiatus with my camera – due to circumstances outside the scope of this comment – you inspired me and gave me back my long lost love for photography in all it’s aspects!

    Thank you so much for being so generous with your insigths and professional knowledge which has helped me to find my way back out of the dark. Each newsletter and blog post is a highlight for me.

    Take care of yourself David and keep up your good work.

    Greetings from the deep end of the Stockholm Archipelago.

    Best regards
    Robert Seyfert

  267. Thanks David for expanding beyond the “vision” language for exactly the reason you discuss. I’ve never gotten the “my vision” thing, and while I’ve replaced “vision” with “intention” or “exploration” whenever you use the word, it’s good to know there isn’t something wrong with me.

    Keep sharing your thinking about photography!

  268. Thank you so much for your constant inspiration to think deeper about our own photography. And I love Fuji and would love to have that X100F. So exciting and thanks for the opportunity!

  269. I have been reading your blog for a while, but your comment on your thought process when shooting and “dig, dig” really resonated with me as I have been doing a photo project recently which has involved multiple trips to the location to try and get the best shots. The process is working – slowly but surely

    Please put my name in the hat for the camera.

  270. You got it~~~~
    Finally, you said said something that I could relate to…..
    The search for the vision, the “right feeling” that those shots tell me are onto something.
    I didn’t have “vision” a few minutes or even a few hours ago,
    but the “search”,
    the click, click, click, …….even more clicks to refine the “vision”, coming out of uncertainty
    sometimes hesitantly pursued, then aggressively pursued !
    I’m getting it ….. I’m getting it…… I’m GETTNG IT …..
    I GOT IT !!!

  271. Sometimes your visions doesn’t appear to you till you see it through the camera. I definitely experiment to see what I can pull from the scene.

  272. David, I’ve been reading your material for years. I still get out and shoot, mostly sun rise on beach. Keep the blogs coming and the podcasts are food for thought.

  273. A very thoughtful blog. Isn’t this the same as the story of Matisse (the French painter) who was asked why a simple drawing was so expensive. He opened a cabinet with hundreds of sheets and said “because I had to practice before I could make it” (or similar words).
    But it helps when you are able to see things that are interesting.
    Please put my name in the hat.

  274. Hi,David!
    Thanks for putting so much work and effort in your articles, I enjoy reading them and am trying to become a little better, by asking the right questions.

    It is a lot more fun, when I am asking questions and am trying to figure the answers out.

    I was amazed to find out, how much trials and error it even you takes, to come up with a sensational pic.

    I am interested in participating in the Fuji give away .


  275. Inspiring post, as always.
    I have offered 2 of your books to my Dad for Christmas & he’s very happy to finally reading some inspiring about photography. So thank you for that too.
    I fall for Fuji xt2 a few years ago & I love it. I’d be trilled to win this one (fingers crossed!).
    Have a lovely day.

  276. Wait, what? you cuss?
    I thought i was the only one…
    I thought that in this day and age, cussing is not allowed anymore, that we should all be “mindfull” and “zen” and let life flow around our frustrated beings, calming us to a level of consciousness that is at one with the energies of the universe.
    Please put my name in the hat, i want to be able to cuss at that Fuji camera

  277. Hello David, thank you a lot for this new paper, it’s very useful!
    Click, click, click oh my god ! its so true 🙂
    I become more curious, and when i’m “without idea”, sometimes i discover unexpected things… and i feel great 🙂


  278. As with a previous comment, not sure if followers from abroad, in this case South Africa, are eligible, but trying my luck by submitting a comment. With our bad exchange rate buying imported camera or other electronic equipment is prohibitive and hence my hoping to be lucky here.

  279. So, so true! I think it’s both…sometimes you have the vision first and it is a matter of expressing that vision through your photograph(s), and other times you need to explore to FIND your vision! And that’s part of the fun! 🙂

  280. Hi David!
    I humbly throw my name into the hat for the Fuji. That’s quite generous of you. As for the article you wrote, intent has become a much stronger word for me, not to mention simply demystifying the process of creativity. I appreciate teaching you do.
    Stay safe,

  281. Enjoy your blog, the musing, and creative process to image making that you share so freely … well not always free. But one must make a living! Please chuck my name in the draw for the Fuji camera. I live In Nanaimo so won’t cost you any delivery charges. Wink wink.

  282. Hi David

    Great article as always. Keep them coming. If you could put my name in the hat, that would be greatly appreciated.

  283. As ever enjoying you blog posts, you have a way with words that strikes a cord with me. Your composition process seems very close to my own, although I feel mine may be even longer. I am happy to have my name put in the hat 🙂

  284. I appreciate the advice. Isometimes do the same thing but feel guilty for just trashing so many experiments, thoughts, maybes, etc. I will keep on doing my liitle experiments perhap now with less guilt. I would like to enter the contest because I am presently seeking something that doesn’t weigh quite so much to haul around when I’m out “on the hunt.” Happy hunting! – Richard

  285. I love your blogs and all the great ideas, tips, and ruminations that you share with us. I also have a deep appreciation for your photography because you appear to walk what you talk when you use your camera. I often share parts from your blogs with my fellow Photo Club members and encourage them to join here. Our club is dwindling due to COVID-19 restrictions but we still have about 6 to 8 regulars at our online meetings. I would like to enter the contest because I am presently seeking something that doesn’t weigh quite so much to haul around when I’m out “on the hunt.” Happy hunting! – Richard

  286. I love your blogs and all the great ideas, tips, and ruminations that you share with us. I also have a deep appreciation for your photography because you appear to walk what you talk when you use your camera. I often share parts from your blogs with my fellow Photo Club members and encourage them to join. Our club is dwindling due to COVID-19 restrictions but we still have about 6 to 8 regulars at our online meetings. I would like to enter the contest because I am presently seeking something that doesn’t weigh quite so much to haul around when I’m out “on the hunt.” Happy hunting! – Richard

  287. David – Thank you so much for all your articles and posts … they are wonderfully informative and above all, so inspirational!
    I have always enjoyed when you talk about the aim of intention, vision and purpose. I love the concept of sketch images … one process that I follow is actual sketches, where I map out ideas and objectives on paper prior to proceeding to the photographic action. Yes indeed, throw my name in the hat for the Fuji X100F – Paul

  288. David,
    I’ve been on your e-mail list for only a month or two, and find your intelligent approach to photography quite inspiring. Not to mention the several illuminating PDFs and videos providing examples of good photos and techniques.
    I appreciate your time spent in trying to educate the ‘great unwashed’ like myself! 🙂

  289. Thank you for this article. This is something I’m trying to give myself room to more fully experience – I’ve started a daily photo project simply to force myself to pick up my camera and put in more of the time to play and explore in an effort to rediscover what I love about this art form.

  290. I love your blog posts, articles, books and all of the Vision is Better episodes on YouTube (I would love to see new ones!). Such a needed departure from all this gear talk. Thank you for all you do!

  291. Sketch images. OK, I hear you. Makes sense. Shoot an image, look at it, develop an idea. Shoot again. Better, but not there yet. Shoot again.

    Oh well, but I got myself into trouble. I shoot film! The “Click, nope. Click, nope. Click, hmmm” has to happen in my imagination. Just by looking through the viewfinder. By the time I pull the film out of the development tank and take a first look at the negative, the scene is long gone. Or, I am gone and may not get back to that same location ever again.

    But I am not giving up! Those old masters had the same problem.

    Oh, the camera you are giving away is digital? Hmmmm….count me in anyway.

    1. No idea how much it would help, as I’m not a film photographer so can’t give it a try, but have you considered making some sketch photos with a digital camera before making your “real” photo? Maybe simply a camera phone?
      I mean, way back when, some photographers were shooting polaroid to test their lighting before making the real exposure with “real” film. Wouldn’t be that different, would it?

  292. I always enjoy your articles, and descriptions of the ‘creative’ process. As so many creatives say, inspiration comes through getting out and doing the work, digging and digging until you find that spark, and then following it where it leads.

  293. Name in hat.
    I bought the 100th X100s ever sold – in Dubai, at the time, and this camera opened my eyes to the real joys of photography. I learned to ditch gear and get lucky / happy with my shots.
    I’ve since moved on to film, but I miss this little bugger in my coat pocket.

  294. LOL – omit the cussing – love it!
    My family will often stick their heads in my studio (albeit, rather hesitantly) and ask if I’m okay, when things are obviously not going the way I would like them to.
    Glad to know I’m only one of many who cuss while making photos!

    And happy to throw my hat in the ring for your generous giveaway. Been resisting the urge to indulge in new gear 😛

  295. Yes, a very good vision. this is a very imprtant question for me too…
    Yes, I can read an image language of the shot, yes I can understand composition, a visual links, similarity / contrast and many other methods of organizing elements in space of shot, like Steeve McCurry for example do. But… making all these things specially when I shot – kill the photography as art for me. Too many thinking kill the miracle of photography in my case.

    And only after 10+ years of shooting in this winter trip to Arshan’s mountains in Buratya I make this shot:

    Easy, by the way, when my batteries was almost dried and hands are as cold as the snow. I can’t even switch to a 25mm wide lens and make a 4×4 pan with 35mm. And it is here. So I get understanding that photographer not a speaker but a listener of the visual language in which reality speaks to him.

    And his true purpose is only to recognize the relationships and compositional constructions created in reality.

    Only to see !

  296. Hi David,
    It was refreshing to read your post. Your suggestions are what I try to do every time I go out with my camera. I love the search, the what if … exploring all the different approaches. Using a digital camera and pockets filled with memory cards allows me the freedom to do that now. When I first started learning photography at SFAI in 1965 I was using film and learning to develop and print my images. The cost of supplies definitely reduced my ability to do much more than the assignment. I’m very grateful that doesn’t limit me now. I’d love some new equipment. Please add my name to the hat. Thanks!

  297. Been going on daily photo quests – thank you for this article, it’s soooooo helpful!

    1. Inspiring as usual. I just love the sound of the thunk on the trunk, but also the different treasures you may find. My favourite is the map.

  298. David,
    There’s no doubt I have the intent to make great images. Your writings, podcasts, and lots of practice nudge my closer to getting the results I desire. Thank you!
    Please include me camera giveaway!

  299. My dad just forwarded me your article and your Blog in information. I love your article and the humour you bring to your writing. I am looking forward to improving my photos!

  300. Thanks David for another great article. Sure got the comments going!! You don’t have to put my name into the draw, I’ve got too many cameras too 🙂 – Hope all is well in your part of the world, thanks and take care.

  301. Another iconic quote: “I’m digging for treasure, and my camera is the shovel.” Thanks for endless inspiration and motivation! Very best regards from Iraq, Harald

    1. A thought provoking and indeed a bit liberating article. It is sometimes nice to hear everybody struggles as it seems it is more the case with me than not. But indeed intent is a great thing to put into words as well. For a while now I have tried to photograph only with the intent of making a print and this has slowed me down and made my compositions imho better.
      Definitely in for the camera raffle but I am more drawn to your words and images. Thank you for inspiring.

  302. Your post is soooo accurate about it takes some click, click, no, click click’s and no’s and then some hmmmm’s and oh yes! and so on. Thanks I did enjoy it!

  303. Hi David,
    First, thank you for clearing the concept that is not as easy as just getting to a place and shoot and a great photo comes out just because you have ‘the vision’. I’m still digging and it’s not easy sometimes. But reading your down to earth comments, pushes me many times to keep searching for that photo I’m looking for.
    Thank you, really.

  304. How do you keep digging when you put everything into it and don’t see anything day after day? How do find the inner strength to keep going? I’m frankly tired. I’m not sure if a Fuji camera would help me but it wouldn’t hurt, right? Love your posts!

  305. How do you keep digging when you put everything into it and don’t see anything day after day? How do find the inner strength to keep going? I’m frankly tired. I’m not sure if a Fuji camera would help me but it wouldn’t hurt, right? Love your posts!

  306. How do you keep digging when you put everything into it and don’t see anything day after day? How do find the inner strength to keep going? I’m frankly tired. I’m not sure if a Fuji camera would help me but it wouldn’t hurt, right? Love your posts!

  307. Thanks David for continuing to explain and refine the idea of vision. This really helped. I find vision elusive at times and humbling when it turns into the flow of the moment. Throw my name into the hat for a camera.

  308. WOW, it’s 5 PM and I am starting my workday by reading your post. Just what I needed to hear. This applys very well to writing as well as photography. Thanks for this wisdom and yes, please enter my name for the Fuji draw.

  309. Must say I love everything you’ve been putting out, been reading you for a few years now. I’ve never been disappointed.
    Wish I had your way with words. Always inspiring.
    I’m going to take a chance and throw my name in the hat also. Keeping my fingers crossed. Would love for you to drop by my Facebook page, would greatly appreciate reading your comments.

  310. Interesting article. I always enjoy your work and your perspective on the craft. Thanks for sharing. I’m game for that free camera, too!

  311. Hi David. Please throw my name in the hat. I’ve heard so much about the new X100F and would love the opportunity to win it. Thank you for the opportunity. Cheers!

  312. David, I truly love your content. Your podcast is the only one I listen to at normal speed (most are sped up significantly). Your books and courses have been so valuable to me in my journey as a photographer, and The Heart of the Photograph has given me so much to digest. It’s going to require a few readings for sure. Sincerely, I thank you for the work you’ve done in creating all this material for us to enjoy and learn from.
    All the best, Andy.

  313. Thanks for the great contest! Please enter my name into the drawing for the Fuji X100F.

  314. Hi David, I have been following you for a while now and I do love your writings. I wish I could wonder in the fog, but most of the time I wonder under the midday sun of the country that is hosting me. Sad to say that on my day off, even if I get up early, I end up shooting something between 11am to 3 pm…pretty flat :-). Every time I promise myself to do better. Do I succeed? Nope hehehe. I’m getting older and to vin the X100F will be just the perfect tool to carry with me where ever I go. My D800 is getting heavier and heavier by the day. I would like to start one of those project (portraits of 100 stranger…more or less) and I think the X100F will be a good companion. Wish me good luck, keep up the good work and keep safe. Ciao and Thank you.

    1. You are so generous! With your articles, your advice and now a camera. Putting my name in the hat and crossing my fingers. Thanks for all you do to keep me motivated!

  315. What a great article. I struggle a lot with “having a plan” for what I’m photographing and this was a timely reminder to just play with the subject matter a little. I always appreciate your insights!
    And yes, please throw my name in the hat for the Fuji.

  316. Use failures to improve and never give up – it’s a great way to live your life and works for photography too. Thanks for the great post.

  317. Hi David,
    I enjoyed today’s topic. You are always thought provoking which is good, you are the only ‘mentor’ I follow that pushes (or reminds) me to think of my intent (or vision) as opposed to straight technical aspects and post processing. So thanks for that.
    Please do include me in the running for the new Fiji x100F camera. Thanks!

  318. Thank you for putting a name to my “sketch” photos and !
    Before reading this, I was bewildered at my use of digital sketch photos, embarrassed by the sheer number taken sometimes.
    Coming from a film background, the ability to use my digital camera as a sketching tool, working towards the perfect shot, has been counter to my core photography beliefs and training,
    But, the ability to shoot more, without the cost of film constraints, has led to freedom to explore and some delightfully creative discoveries.
    Thanks for making me feel good – and a little less guilty – about photo sketching!

    Please include my name in your camera contest hat!

  319. Hi David,
    Have followed you for years now. I always welcome you into my email box because I know something special is waiting for me from you.
    I have been a Fuji x100s shooter since that second model came out. I love the camera.
    It would be sweet to get one of your x100F cameras.
    Thank you for being such a sharing person.
    Edwin Gustafson

    1. Hi David, I’ve been listening to Beautiful Anarchy and love it. Maybe next time you open your group I’ll be able to join. Meanwhile, I like intent more than vision. I feel a bit lost right now. I’d love to snag that Fuji like everyone else! Be well! And thank you.

  320. I love it. You’re right, David. It’s just like treasure hunting. You might find something, you might not. The excitement comes from the possibility of finding something; the journey matters most in my opinion.
    And yes please, I’d like to win a Fuji X100F!

  321. Great to know I’m not the only one who shows up at a place to shoot and then struggles finding a vision/perspective/purpose. Sometimes shooting away helps, then I leave the photos for a while, coming back to them for post after they’ve had time to rest so I’m not forcing anything. It helps when it is a place where I can return for more pictures after the initial round of snaps finally speaks to me.

    PS – You have my permission to put my name in the hat for the camera!

    1. Go find out approach is instrumental in learning to love the process. Coaxing ones subconscious out to play takes time and play. I have learned to embrace the process and forget the product. To capture with intent is to grasp life through a child’s eyes. Thank you for the wonderful article and concepts.

  322. It is good to hear that I am not alone in my struggle with having a ‘vision’ for my photographs… big sigh of relief! 😁 I do a lot of ‘just go out and see’. But as a relative newcomer to photography I find that your podcast has given me much to think about, and helped me to be more patient with myself in my progression to making better photographs. Thanks for your wonderful advice.

  323. I would love to throw my name in the hat for that Fuji. More importantly though I want to thank you for sharing such inspiring content.

  324. Your words came at the exact right moment – I just spent a day “digging” and wondering what was wrong with my vision that I wasn’t getting the photo I expected. Tomorrow I’m going to approach it differently. Instead of trying to fit what I see into my vision, I’m going to let my vision expand and evolve with what is before me until it finally says what I intended. Thank you!! And please enter me in the give away.

  325. Photographers can be artists, and all art starts with a sketch. I love this concept, would love to be in the draw as well. Thanks David!

  326. Thank you. As always, concise and directly on point. You seem to read my mind and know my thoughts snd struggles. It is must meaningful to here reality on my level. Thank you for sharing all that you. You continue to inspire me with courage to be the best I can be. Yes, please enter my name for that camera. You’re still the best, even when I don’t win.

  327. David,
    Thank you for your tireless work of inspiring us, your followers, to make better images by simply thinking about what we want to say with them. Thank you for exposing the reality of craft where exploration is key to the process. Can you imagine if by some freak circumstance your keeper ratio will skyrocket to unthinkable 100 percent? Maybe someone will call it photographer’s heaven, but I think you will see the opposite in it. So may your diamond of an image be found under a mountain of sketches!
    Be safe!

  328. LOL, It has been maybe 7 years since I last left a comment on this blog. But read it faithfully, and you always encourage me. 10 years ago, I was really scared of taking this journey of being an artist and pursuing creativity, and your voice, your words really taken me through the seasons. I have clipped and saved a lot of your writing on evernote, so you know I was surprised with the title of this blog post. But I get it. Thank you for sharing.

  329. Can I join the big hat? Thanks for opening my eyes and moving me on from the good old film days when shots were precious because you only had 24 – 36 on a roll of film and it was was expensive to process, especially for a student.

  330. Fantastic encouragement in this article. I often feel pressured by the primary client to hurry the process of getting “the” shot even if it isn’t defined well in the beginning and we are all working towards something stunning which we recognise when it appears but can take time to develop. Thank you . Please
    Enter me into your draw if you can post a winner a camera to New Zealand ?

    1. (click) Nope.
      (click) Nope.
      (click) Nope.

      Is the title of all of my photo collections.

      Seriously though, I really appreciate the candor in the way that you express you own doubts. You make it okay, to feel like I’m just groping around in the dark. Your insight provides a bit of light, in that search for a wonderful image.

      Thank you for your generosity and interest.

      Take care,


  331. You pen words that my heart understands and I struggle to find. Thank you for sharing your talent with me and so many others. We are better because of it.

  332. I like the idea of digging to find the photograph. Too often I don’t dig enough if I’m not “feeling it” and probably am missing some great shots. Thank you for this perspective.

  333. Nice to see that even in a seasoned artist the process continues to evolve and be recognized differently.

    Please put me in the drawing as well….Thanks!

  334. I forgot to add to my comment a moment ago to be please included in the drawing, that vision is the reason you push the shutter button. You “see” something that you want to keep for yourself or that you want to share with others…. This is your vision, your reason.

  335. Thank you so much for your down-to- earth advice. I so enjoy your emails, and the wisdom that they bring.
    Please add my name to the hat 🙂 ~ Franziska

  336. Hey David. It is encouraging to know that “real” photographers suffer from the same issues I do. I have followed you for several years and find your teaching style amazingly in sync with my “learning style”. Thanks for everything and please stay healthy.

  337. Please add me to the virtual hat to be included in the drawing to win a new smaller, light weight camera. My back would really appreciate it. Thanks
    Danelle J

  338. As per usual, a very inspiring and thought-provoking essay. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and expertise with us, David! And. of course, the giveaway camera. The click…click…click part made me laugh out loud…it’s so true for the way I take photos, as well. Please add my name to the hat!

  339. David, I appreciate your insight into capturing an image, as most people only see the final product and never experience the internal turmoil of the photographer. Personally, I may go out with a vision but on arrival find that the shot envisaged is not available requiring me to modify. I may not be disappointed as I head home, but on closer inspection of the images on a larger screen, I can be pleasantly surprised. Thank you for the insight.

  340. I keep reading about the need for vision. I still do not understand what it is. I just bought an old out of print book about how to acquire or develop it from Abebooks. It seems to be one of those intangible concepts like mood in a photograph. We recently had a zoom lecture about mood in our camera club. The speaker showed a lot of landscape images, but did not once mention either the word mood or explained what mood the image contained. I will still read the book, even though you suggest I need look no further. I find your concept of making sketches interesting. When I go somewhere to take photographs I do not have a clear objective. But that for me is the buzz. Will I return with an image I like. Surprisingly I usually do, maybe just one. As I say that is the thing that motivates & excites me. Unlike a landscape photographer who sets out, if the light etc is not right he has to return another day. It reminds me of the reply the artist David Hockney made, when someone commented that the weather was not right. He replied for who? Last year I went to our local heritage railway station, again with no clear vision I guess. A steam locomotive came in & I like every other photographer I took some photographs of the engine. I hung about noticed a mechanic polishing the wheels of the loco. I took a photo & called it TLC. I entered it in a club competition, the judge did not understand what the image was about! I was recently taking some architectural photographs of a church & the entrance. A young lady came along & started reading the notices in the porch entrance, interrupting my photography. For a moment I stopped taking architectural photographs. But then decided to take several photographs of the young lady in the porch. I supose I switched to street-style photography. Maybe vision is the same thing as intent. Maybe it is serendipity. But I think it pays to keep an open mind. I have takenphotographs of window displays when I have gone outdoing street photography. Does that window display count as street photography, is it urban photography or is it a found still life? Who cares? I don’t.
    Anyway I have that affliction of GAS. I have to say I have a lot of gear. As much from upgrading & hanging on to my old stuff. Having seen how little the stuff is worth on ebay. I also keep my old cameras so I have a spare. I damaged my main camera when I was last on holiday- that finishec my enjoyment for the rest of the holiday. So now I take my entry level body & kit lens as a spare with me. The other reason I keep my entry-level camera is that it is light with its kit lens & not too heavy when I go on a hike.
    I could do with a new compact quality replacement camera for street photography. Someone asked me if I was a tourist.
    Have you noticed whenever Jeff Beck or some other top guitar player is shown at home, how many guitars he has on display? I know they are all tools. But in my tool box I have short & long screwdrivers. Some with a spade end, some with a cross-shaped end. Some that will fit into a power drill. One for electrical work that lights up when a live wire is being checked. I have a set of tiny ones which is useful when I want to tighten the screws on my spectacles.
    As I like to take architectural photographs I need a PC lens. However I would be happy with the Fuji compact for street photography. So please enter me in the draw.
    It’s good to listen to your podcasts, read your articles & your books. I find I am reading less about gear& PS & more about the subjects that you cover- creativity, the compositional side of photography etc. Keep up the good stimulating ideas.
    Kep safe, keep blogging, keep writing, keep stretching our photography. May I always be lost for a reply, when people ask me what do I photograph.

  341. Look forward to seeing your name in my inbox.
    Sometimes you need to put the self doubt talks aside, and just push the bottom. And see what comes of it – instead of overthinking. Some of my best images are when I remember to let that go, and experiment.

  342. A Beautiful Anarchy is my go to book at the moment. I have many of your other publications, magazines and am always taken with your way with words the enlightens the visual image….

  343. It’s not about the gear but the right gear helps one to focus on the intent of the vision! Grateful for you!! ❤

  344. What?!?! After all these years, Vision Isn’t Everything?!?! Cool, man. I’m getting gear!!

    David, you have a knack for waking up MY intent with that gentle elbow nudging me out of those little ruts. Thanks.

  345. David did a presentation for our camera club lately. I have been thinking over many of the things he said. My intent feels like a quest There are times when intent isn’t there and there is no flow. However, it’s always good to be out there with my camera in hand.

  346. Thanks for doing what you do, David. After, well, let’s just say more than 50 years of making images, I’m still refining/shifting my vision! I still have my Yashica Mat 124G twin lens reflex simply because it slows me down:

    . 6×6 cm frame
    . waist-level viewfinder
    . everything in the viewfinder is reversed!
    . single, fixed-focal-length lens
    . 12 exposures/roll!

    Yes, I love my digital equipment too, but it can be too easy at times.

  347. Sketch images, that is such a positive way to think about the process and not be too judgemental about what you see on the back of the camera. The feedback loop between something catching your eye, a sketch and more experimenting until you have captured your intent, awesome way to think about the process .
    Happy to be included in your giveaway

  348. I have enjoyed photography as a hobby for close to 50 years. I have spent most of these years focused primarily on the technical aspects. My most recent photographic activities have led me in to focus more on vision and intent. Your courseware, blog posts, and other resources have helped me immensely. This article in particular really resonates with me because I many times have the feeling “I don’t really have a vision” or “I really don’t know what my intent is”. It makes total sense that it is a process of exploration to develop my vision with each new opportunity. Please add my name to the drawing for the FujiFilm X100F. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for this. I often get frustrated with myself because of my wandering in the fog and feeling lost. I thought other people just know what they are doing and follow they’re vision clearly. This message is a great relief that I’m not alone but more importantly makes me feel that im not wasting my time braving the fog (it makes me feel like a hack haha). Please add me to the fuji camera draw^^

  349. I always find great nuggets of education and inspiration in your blogs. Love your honesty, and I feel like as I’ve been following you, I have become a better photographer due to the advice you give, and me actually practicing some of it! Please put my name in the hat! Thanks for sharing your gifts!

  350. David – I enjoy how you approach photography, and sometime find myself quoting you to myself when I am traveling and out taking photos. I used your approach to how you photography India, with a specific theme to shoot one aspect, not, “here’s India! in ten photos or less.”

    I would say your move to intent from vision creates a lot more comfort. When people ask me about my vision it is easy to get lost in how to respond, and while I may not be clear and comfortable in talking about my vision…. it is far easier and more direct to reflect on my intent…. where it is the intent for an individual photograph or my intent on how I am going to approach photography in general.

    Yes, please put my name in the hat for the Fuji camera.

  351. I do think “intent” is a better guiding word than “vision.” Intent is a mental attitude. A vision is something that is or has been seen. Intent implies a process. At least it works better for me.
    *** Would you please throw my name in the hat, and then pull it out! LOL

  352. I always enjoy reading your blog posts! I appreciate your honesty about your own journey to the beautiful photos you take, and I appreciate even more your desire to help more of us to find and share our own unique vision in our own photography. (I think it’s equally important that you are encouraging us to JUST ENJOY PHOTOGRAPHY!)

    I still remember the first time I shot 9 rolls of film in 24 hours (first time at the Grand Canyon) and had just enough “keepers” to start thinking of myself as a photographer. Never mind the rest :).

  353. Love your insights and I appreciate you giving me new ways to think about my photography.

  354. You aren’t just a talented photographer, you are also a very eloquent writer. I’m still working on refining my vision and honing my intent. Hopefully one day I will get there. Ancora imparo.

    Please add me onto the list for the Fuji too.

  355. David, you always make me pause. How refreshing to know that you, too, struggle to figure it out. How kind of you to give away a Fuji camera. I’ve never won anything, but maybe. …

  356. It’s always encouraging to hear that even the pros don’t always know what they’re going to get when they shoot. And, to think about what worked and what didn’t in each successive shot. Thanks

  357. Hi David, I have several of your books and am also a past course participant. In the beginning I struggled with your mantra of Vision is Better and then onto what is my intent, or what am I trying to say. I still struggle with the idea of having something to say, but feel a lot more comfortable about my picture making. In the end I make pictures, first for me, then for my family, then for whoever else want to look at them (Instagram, prints, etc). So when I wander the city with my camera looking at buildings, light, shape, shadow etc, I’m not looking to say much at all. I photograph what catches my interest. The same thing happens when I go on a trek through the Aussie bush. It’s when I get home and start scrolling through the shots that I start to identify potential images that might show the majesty of the bush, or the beauty in structures. There’s not really a lot of premeditated vision, or intent there, but I think what is there is a need to create some focus on the subject for the viewer. To make the viewer stop and look into the image and take it in. To encourage them to see the world as I do, in small rectangular segments of the whole. A single light fitting on a wall is of much greater interest to me than the whole building for example, or the bark on a tree is more interesting than the whole forest. Do you think I’m getting close to what you are teaching, or am I way off the mark. Take care, and thank you for doing what you do. Jack

  358. I always enjoy reading your articles, books, and listening to your podcast. Like most people, I haven’t been able to do a lot of photography in the past year or so, but I always appreciate the honest insights you offer. Hopefully I will be able to channel all this inspiration into something new when the world reshapes itself into whatever it may look like when this pandemic is under control.

  359. David, thank you for the inspiration and motivation to keep trying. I would love the chance to win the Fuji!!

  360. I have been a serious photographer for fifty years. I find that David helps me use my mind and eyes better which is what I need to continue to be creative. Thank you.

  361. I love reading your blogs. You have a way of infusing the joy and adventure .into doing photography. Your manner of expression fosters learning of important lessons even if they may not be the exact point of your message. A frequent experience that has me coming back for more.

  362. I”ve learnt so much from you over the years of reading your blogs, ebooks and books. I love what you say here about it being an exploration. So often what I end up capturing is so different from what I’d expected to. That’s the joy and surprise that comes with taking the time to just be wherever I am. And yes, I’d love the camera – please put my name onto your list.

  363. With all your comments it’s hard to convince myself to respond except I want you to know how much I appreciate the effort to share your expertise with us. Teaching is your jam as well as your photography!
    I would LOVE to have the Fuji! I’m not a pro but I jolly well enjoy improving my skills! It is my joy every day to see what I can create. I feel jazzed and challenged at every email or article I receive!! So here’s to a new camera and a BIG thanks for all you do. So appreciated!!

  364. Hi there I’ve been following you for a while now and I wish I could buy your books you are one of the few educators out there that makes sense to me please add me to the draw I’ll probably never win but I want to say thanks very very much for all the work you do with the little I have learned from you my photos have improved drastically over the last few years
    All the best

  365. I love your blog because it’s not about the perfect photo, it’s about the path to a good photo. And I want to throw my name into the hat for drawing the camera

    1. You always inspire me, and I really appreciate your focus on the art & vision & intent instead of the rules, the sharpness, and the technical perfection. While I agree it’s not all about the gear, I would love the Fuji X100F.