The Importance of Pre-Visualisation

Pre-Visualisation is something that has been discussed time and time again throughout photographers.

An idea can be akin to a seed in the eye of the creator. The more time that is spent on that idea, the further it can develop. Surely? Or can we be hit with a fully fledged idea or image in our heads of exactly how we want to make something look in reality?

Ansel Adams described pre-visualisation in Modern Photography, 1934-35: The Studio Annual of Camera Art as: “The camera makes an image-record of the object before it. It records the subject in terms of the optical properties of the lens, and the chemical and physical properties of the negative and print. The control of that record lies in the selection by the photographer and in his understanding of the photographic processes at his command. The photographer visualizes his conception of the subject as presented in the final print. He achieves the expression of his visualization through his technique—aesthetic, intellectual, and mechanical.”

Moving into 2013, I have already a series of images that I have began working on producing long before even picking up my camera. My visualisation of these images came to me, mostly, when lying in bed, ideas whizzing around my head. My sleep suffered, but I got the ideas down onto paper and ‘banked’ my visualisation in a rough sketch of what I want to do. The next step is pulling all the elements for each image together seamlessly, before making an exposure. Models, locations, props, set designs, clothing and lighting have all to be considered before I can plan the shoot.

Pre-Visualisation1 Pre-Visualisation2

Planning is critical. Until everything comes together in that one moment where you will take the exposure to fulfill the original idea that you had you can’t rest with it. You obsess over the fine details that will all come together to produce the overall piece. You are nothing more than sourcing your visual elements until you can make it happen. And when you can make it happen, you need to make it count. You need to be the director, the dictator of the set. Don’t let anything or anyone compromise your original vision. Thats what’s important here.

Once your original pre-visualisation is reached, the cycle starts again. Its one continuous being, that lives inside every photographer. Don’t fight it, feed it.

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2 thoughts on “The Importance of Pre-Visualisation

  1. A very good post, one of which I can relate to as I’m sure many others can. I’m glad it’s not just me who has these ideas whilst lying in bed trying to sleep!

    The only point I’d question is the pursuit of the image without compromise. Sometimes with what you might call ‘sensitive’ subjects it’s human nature to empathise with them and be respectful. In doing so, I think you sometimes have to accept some sort of compromise, depending upon your goal. But perhaps this is sometimes the difference between a good photo(grapher) and a great one.

    • Thanks for you comment Richard. My point with ‘pursuit of the image without compromise’ is based purely on my visions, for fabricated images and sets where everything is controlled. But you do raise a good point yourself here!

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