How to find your vision in photography, art, and life? One of the most common questions I get from people is: What should I do to find my vision as I'm just starting in photography? In this guide, I have gathered some tools you can start to use straight away. Without further ado, let's cut to the chase!
1. Practice your craft DAILY
When you are first starting and want to find your unique vision. Try any kind photography you can think. Keep your camera with you everywhere you go. If you already know what kind of photography you want to focus on, then you just keep on doing that and there is no point on not to photograph another type of photography. Start with what you got. No matter if it's a camera, mobile phone or a pen. The key to success is not to wait.
2. Give it 100% – Say NO to excuses
If you want to be good at something, you have to give it your 100%. Sitting around and reading about photography tricks and tools gives you insight but you have to use that insight in the field. There are plenty of times I have said that "no, not today" yet crawled out of the bed at 1.00 am to photograph the night sky. Or when I have stayed up the whole night to get that first view of the sunrise. I believe in the 10 000 hours rule. For those who don't know what it is, it's practicing your craft for 10 000 hours whether it's photography, painting and so on. I would say I'm somewhere over the half way of this, and I still have a lot to learn.
3. Create, don't imitate
It's useful at times to use someone else's work as an inspiration but copying another painters or photographers work is unoriginal and uninspiring. Add your unique vision to the inspiration you gather. Keep a small notebook or a mobile phone with you to capture your thoughts and ideas. Don't hesitate to put bad ideas there as well.
4. Study your work
If you want to get better at your craft, you have to go through your paintings or photographs with a perspective of a critique. Study what you enjoyed about the work and what could have been better. This way you always learn something new even though when the work was not good enough that you would like to share.
5. Identify your inspiration
By creating and producing work, it's important to find those moments where you get inspired. Whether it's from other people's work, nature, movies, music or whatever. Once you understand what motivates you, you have an idea of what you can pursue.
6. Share your best work
What this means is that you need to publish the photographs you find most inspiring to yourself. Not just the stuff that you can see gets a lot of attraction. It's crucial to find the courage to share your work. How do you know what is your best work? Well, that's the thing, you don't necessary know until you have had the courage to share it. You will get better at this the more you share your work. Search for a community where you can share the work. For photographers, there are many different platforms to use. For example, 1x is an interesting place to share your photographs this is a great site since you can get insightful feedback about your pictures. For painters and digital artist, there are fantastic opportunities as well such as deviantArt.
7. Evolve and change
Don't be afraid to change your vision while you are working on your craft; it is one of the keys to finding your true artistic vision. It's a lifelong journey!
8. Challenge yourself
Creating photography challenges such as photograph each day for the next 30 days, or learn a new post-processing trick each day is an excellent way to boost your motivation and find out more about your vision.
Try one of the following 30-days exercises
- Photograph every day
- Post-process pictures every day
- Capture only five pictures per day
If you want to challenge yourself with a 52-week program check it out!
9. Book recommendations
These are the books that I feel works as a knowledge boost about the rules I have stated. Do the job while you read these, don't try and hide behind education it's just one kind of procrastination.
Mastery – Robert Greene
Show Your Work – Austin Kleon
Enjoy the journey and have fun!
There are plenty of unique views in Iceland, and while I visited the country, I knew this plane wreck was one of those sights I wanted to visit. Walking around this iconic plane wreckage in the darkness of night was one of my favorite and most emotional experiences in Iceland. The wind made the wreck make ghostly sounds in the dark. I felt alone and inspired in this vast, surreal landscape. If you have visited the place you know, it's in the middle of nowhere (Sólheimasandur). I knew the story behind the abandoned plane wreckage; I still wanted to vision a different storyline.
After a long rainy day, there was an opportunity to capture the plane wreck with an interesting and different vantage point. I carefully placed the camera on a tripod to the lowest possible height, close to the little puddle of water to create this perspective. I had to capture the scenery with multiple exposures to give it the final look because the wind kept blurring the water. I also wanted to get enough detail in the dark parts of the wreck.
If you want to learn my star photography techniques, you can view my eBook Star Photography Masterclass where I go through my star photography vision.
Exif & Equipment
Nikon D810, Nikkor 14–24 mm f/2.8 G, Sirui R4203 L Tripod & Manfrotto 3WAY-Head
Sky: ISO 6400, 14 mm, f/2.8, 30 sec.
Plane wreck & black sand: ISO 500, 14 mm, f/2.8, 14 min
Reflection: ISO 8000, 14 mm, f/2.8, 30 sec.
I selected the photographs I wanted to stitch together in Lightroom and applied Saga Preset (Ice) to each of them. For combining the three horizontal images, I used my Vision Of Depth technique in Photoshop. The hardest part was masking different parts of the pictures together to create the unique depth of the final artwork. After I had stitched the image together, I applied another of my favorite presets: Hint of Blue (Saga).
If you want to learn all of my techniques view The Complete Photography Bundle.
I visited Kilpisjärvi in February and while I was there I had the pleasure to go out and explore the landscapes. I had a vision how I wanted to show the landscape. I captured this photograph on my first evening there. It was a quite windy, cold yet quiet environment. Standing in this beautiful scenery alone in the dark was an amazing experience. I captured the scenery using my Vision of Depth technique. Which you can find in my Star Photography Masterclass eBook.
Equipment & Exif
Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 & Sirui Tripod & Ball head.
Foreground: 4 min 32 sec, f/8 ISO 800, 14 mm
Stars: 30 sec. f/2.8, ISO 1600, 14 mm
Thanks for the email responses for my last tutorial. I got a couple of questions about how do I manage to get sharp images at night of the stars. In this tutorial, I have listed the key elements you have to master when you want to capture most crisp images at night.
If you want the stars to be sharp and in focus, you need to learn how to focus to infinity. Every lens seems to have a slightly different spot when focusing to infinity or near to infinity. Try focusing in daylight and learn the infinity focus point of your lens.
- Capture daylight test images while using the widest possible aperture value
- Photograph a vast landscape or subject far away
- Use the live view mode zoomed to refine the focus in manual focusing mode
- Import the pictures to your computer to examine further
2. Camera Equipment
Use a wide-angle lens with a wide aperture to capture Milky Way and stars. If you are photographing on a windy night, get a decent tripod and use counter weight to keep the tripod steady. You can view my gear recommendations for star photography here: http://www.star-photography-tutorial.com/gear. Here is a quick list on what I recommend getting:
- Wide-angle lens: View my Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 Review
- Light sensitive Camera (decent ISO performance) — I tend to use ISO settings up to 8000
- Steady Tripod — When you need to get that extra sharpness get a decent tripod
- Remote controller, or built-in camera timer — If you use the timer set it to five seconds so the camera has enough time to settle before it takes the photograph
3. Camera settings
The wider your lens is, the longer shutter speed you can use to capture stars without movement. When you need shorter shutter speed, use higher ISO settings. Check out my cheat sheet of camera settings: here.
- High ISO — I use ISO 3200 - 8000 most of the time
- f/2.8-4.0 — As wide aperture as possible to capture more light
- 20-30 sec. exposure — Depending on the lens see the link above
4. Post-Processing sharpening
Use Lightroom to sharpen your images. You can see the settings from the detail panel.
- Amount 50
- Radius 1,2
- Detail 30
Don't export full-size images for the web. It's quite often I see people posting full-size jpg files on social media. It's not optimal when you want your images to appear sharp. I prefer using 1080px on Instagram when I upload square format images.
My export settings for social media
- Instagram: JPG, 1080px, Standard Sharpen & sRGB
- Facebook, Twitter: JPG, 1000 px, Standard Sharpen & sRGB