Skill and Vision: Yin and Yang


This weekend, while I tried (and failed) to produce a new portrait for myself, I had two somewhat related and equally eye opening thoughts:

  1. Technical skill is nothing without Creative Vision.
  2. Creative Vision is nothing without the skill to back it up.

I think this is somethign that I understood all along, something that waited in the depths of my mind and soul.  But I guess this is the first I’ve been able to really think hard about it and put it to words.  Technical Skill and Creative Vision really are the yin and yang of any creative venture.  Much like a painter needs to know his paints, brushes and canvases, a photographer needs to know his tools.  Of course as I said, I think this is not news to me.  But something clicked this weekend that I never thought about before:  You need to practice both as much as possible.

It has been a couple of weeks since my last photo session, and this weekend, I just didn’t have it.  With each shot, I think I had either skill or vision nailed down, but I wasn’t able to get both to align.  Maybe I was tired, maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly – but those shouldn’t be excuses.  The technical aspects should become second nature so that I can allow more of my mind to be dedicated to the vision.  And therein lies the problem.  Like any skill, you need to constantly practice, and those few weeks in between sessions was enough to prevent me from doing my task effectively.  I blame myself.

Okay, so I’ve identified the problem.  Now what?  I’ve promised myself that I will spend a few minutes a couple of times each week photographing something.  I don’t care if nothing makes it to my portfolio.  The idea is to stay attuned with my vision and skills.  The point is to get that camera in my hand a few times a week so that everything I know becomes second nature so that even when I’m tired or distracted, I can pave the way for an unhindered session.  I would encourage each of you to make a similar promise to oneself.

Wish me luck.


About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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