Man standing and welcoming the rain in the Streets of San Miguel de Allende
Many years ago a photographer visiting Iceland asked me this question. What do you want. Then he added don't say photoshop. This was at the time photoshop was taken over the scene, but I had been using it for such a long time I did not understand what it had to do with any thing. When he did see the puzzled look on my face he asked again. What do you want from your photography. What is your vision.
This question haunted me for years. The sad fact was that I could not answer it. I had in fact no clue and I had never thought of it or thought about photography that way. I just wanted to be a photographer and take pictures. And for the matter use photoshop or what ever was needed to create the things that popped up in my mind or in front of my eyes.
I guess the fact that I had never thought of it in this way was because of the nature of the photography market in Iceland. Its a small market when you think of the population of the Island being only 350.000 and because of that you will have to be prepared to do all kinds of photography just to survive. At the time I graduated there was no separation based on style, your creative vision or fields of photography. Non at all.
It bothered me and I complained about it as I wanted to be a studio rat, doing all kinds of special effect photography and maybe do some people photography to. But I quickly learnt that people did not at all care about my portfolio. In fact I was only once asked about my portfolio. It was more the question of whom did you know and could you solve the problem they had. You got a job as a photographer based on your ability to solve problems not based on your vision or creative style.
As the business of photography evolves and the digital world takes over more and more, it is increasingly more important than before that you solve the puzzle and can answer this question with out a hesitation. In to days work environment you have to have a vision and know what you want, just to survive. The sooner you develop that vision the better off you will be. You can take all kinds of side steps as long as you stay focused on your vision and constantly work towards achieving your goal.
It took me a while to figure out what I do want to do in my photography and where my love of it is. I started out doing street and documentary style photography and that is what I really really really want to do. To be able to do that I have to redefine my self. I did it partly when I took my big two year trip in benzi through the americas and at the same time I found my style of shooting. In the past year I have then refined my style of development through Lightroom and Photoshop.
Finding your vision and knowing what you want may sound a daunting and difficult task but there is one rule to it. You are allowed to change course in the middle of your journey if it leads you on a better path. The main thing is to stay focused on what you want with your photography. What you want with your photography and your vision are two separate things even though they are woven together. You could rephrase the question and ask your self where do you want your photography to lead you.
By asking your self this question you have to be prepared to answer the following questions to as they are all part of the program.
What do you want
What is your vision
How do you get there
How do you see it happen
What do you have to sacrifice to get there.
If you know what you want you have a base for your vision. IF you have your vision you know what you want. If you find out how to get there you see how things happen, if you know how you want it to happen you know how to get there. The big if is what do you have to sacrifice to get there and what do you have to eliminate. Once you know that and you agree to the terms the only thing you need is to start working towards that goal. By visualizing your goal just like your images you are already on the right track. The rest is only practice and hard work.
Good luck with your future of photography and remember photography is not a sprint but a long distance running