Tag: vision

7 Tips for Developing your Photography Vision Like a Professional

Developing a photography vision is a challenge. But what is exactly this “Vision” thing? It is the way you see the world. The problem is that we are so used to see the things from our point of view that a lot of times we don’t even think about it as something unique. But our vision is really unique!! As photographers, we have the chance to express our vision through images. However, to do so we need to do some previous work first in order to recognize and develop our vision. Today I want to share with you some ideas about how to do it.

#1. Make a list of the things you love and things you hate

For this first exercise, you don’t need your camera yet. This one it is a bit of self-analysis. You just need a piece of paper and a pen. It will be good that you do this exercise in a moment you are relaxed and that you can invest some time in it. If you feel like, prepare a cup of coffee, tea or any other drink will make you feel cozy. Do anything you need to feel comfortable and make it a nice experience/moment of the day.

Once you are ready, make 2 columns on the piece of paper: “Things I love” and “Things I hate”. Put on them anything that comes to your mind. Anything. The list might seem a bit of a mess, but that´s ok. And remember, the important thing here is that you write things you “love/hate” and not just “like/dislike”. Vision is driven by strong feelings, so a big first step is to identify them.

Photography vision
Feel free to add to your list anything you love/hate. You will be surprised at the number of things you will come up with!

#2. Make it “abstract”

Next step is to take the subjects of each column and think why you love or hate them. You will need to dig more into concepts, ideas, values… To do this might be a bit difficult, especially if you have a long list of things you love/hate.  Work just with some of them for now. In the future, you can always come back to your list and pick new ones.

You will have a collection of concepts that move you. These are some of the things in life that make you react, that make you feel. These are the ingredients of your vision.

Photography vision
Going abstract with the list of things I love I realized that something that moves me in nature is its colors. I am always amazed by the vivid tones you can find in a simple tree. As I want to show colors, I stopped trying to convert my photos to Black & White and instead I am studying color theories in order to get deeper into the subject.

#3. Take photos with your subjects and concepts in mind

Now it is time for action! Pick some subjects from your list and take photos about them for a period of time. It can be during one day, one week or one month. Choose the time that is more realistic for you to keep.

It is always easier to start with one of the things you love because it won´t generate any strong conflict between you. If you want to take photos of the things you hate (in order to make some type of protest for example), make sure you don´t go so far. It is important you don´t do anything you don´t feel comfortable doing or that you put yourself in awkward or even dangerous situations. The whole idea here is to recognize the things you are attracted to and the things that produce rejection on you. In any case, these justify you (or others) end up suffering.

And here the important thing: you need to keep always in mind not just the subject of your photos, but the concepts you linked to it. This is the key of everything!! Because in order to take photos that convey your vision you need to do a little switch in your way of thinking the photo: you need in fact to take photos of the concepts, not just of the subject!

Photography vision
One of the things I love is finding nature in the cities. For that reason, I can just stop in the middle of a street to take a photo of any botanical element. Sometimes people stop by to see what I am doing. This is one of the side effects of following your vision…that some people might think you are a bit crazy 🙂
Photography vision
This is one of the photos I took that day.

#4. Keep your gear simple

When you work on your vision, your aim is not to take the perfect shot, but to try to convey what moves you. Keep this in mind because it is easy to get trapped in the technical part of photography. I think that the technical part of the craft is important and you need to master it too. However, I tend to relax a little about technical issues when I do these type of exercises to develop my vision because I want to focus on feelings and concepts. For the developing the technical part, there is another type of activities.

An easy way to keep things simple is to limit the gear you will work with. Take just one lens, or take photos with your phone a compact camera. In this way, you won´t get distracted.

Photography vision
Compact cameras and some phones might not have the capabilities than more advanced cameras can provide you. But using them might help you to work in your vision because their simplicity takes out of your mind a lot of technical decisions.

#5. Find ways to emphasize the concepts in your photos

This is the trickiest part. Here is where all your creativity and knowledge about composition has a role. If you are not familiar with composition yet, you can start by having a look at the article written by Julian Rad about the subject.

Try to highlight the concept linked to your subject. The way to do it will depend on each concept, so there is no a universal rule here. I recommend you to approach it as a game. Experiment, have fun. You will probably end up with a lot of photos that might not be perfect but that will put you closer to your vision. It is a learning process.

Something that usually works is to keep the composition the simplest you can in order to avoid elements that might make the viewer lose the attention/interest for the main subject.

Photography vision
Simplifying your compositions can be a great way to highlight the elements you want from your image. Here I wanted you to see these 2 rings placed together (symbolizing connection).

#6.Edit photos with your vision in mind

If you edit your photos, this is a good moment to work on your vision too. Editing has a huge role in conveying emotions. Before starting editing a photo, take a moment to think what are the elements in the photo that moves you (that caught your attention). Your mission is to edit the photo in a way that these elements out-stand from the rest of the photo.   This is quite an extensive subject, so if you are interested to have a look at the article I wrote an article about How to post-process your images according to your photographic vision. It will give you a good starting point.

#7. Build something with your photos

Once you have some finished photos that show your vision, do something with them. One option is to print them and hang them in a place you can see them often. By looking at your photos you will realize if they are really conveying your vision or not. If you don´t look at the photos anymore because they are somewhere in an external memory, they won´t sink on you. In addition, if somebody else is coming to your place and see the photos, you can talk with them about them and check if you manage to convey what you wanted.

For printing, it is always great to find a high quality developing place and work with them. Printing in high quality is a world on its own. You need to take care of color calibration, know a little about paper quality, check the printing resolution… If this sounds too much for you right now, forget about high-quality printing and find a printing lab you like and that will make the printing experience for you easier and nicer. Prints for working in your vision don´t need to be huge or expensive. I rather print the photos in lower quality that not printing them because it is too expensive or too complicated. I personally print the photos to work on my vision in lower quality labs and I send my absolute favorite photos to be printed in high quality.

You can do other things besides or in addition to printing your photos. You can build collages, make albums, build collections in galleries… you can do what suits you the most. The idea is always the same: keep your photos in a way close to you that you can come back to them easily to check them and analyze them.

Photography vision
I print the photos I want to work with and I glue them into an album. I personally like this option because I can write notes and ideas about the photo. I that case, the print is not a high-quality one, but I printed it in 5 minutes in a photo laboratory next to my place. It makes its job as a learning material. When I want to frame a photo is when I look for high-quality prints. This is just my personal way of working.  Of course, you can print all your photos in high-quality laboratories too.

I hope this will help you to develop your vision. I just have the last piece of advice: be flexible about your vision. Our experiences in life make us change the way we see things, so our photography vision might change accordingly. Working in your photography vision is a lifelong endeavor. It is good to take it easy and enjoy the ride!! Have a happy shooting!



Using color as a composition element to add mood to your photos

The list of elements that have a role in the composition of your photography is quite long: lines, patterns, symmetry, texture, depth of field, color… yes! Color! Have you ever considered a color like a composition element? If your answer is not, keep reading because I will give you some information that might change the way you approach color in your photography.

Colors and emotions

Colors are generally associated with certain emotions.

Red: Passion, intensity, power, strength and attention

Red roses have always been synonyms of passion and love.

Orange: enthusiasm, joy, optimism, creativity


Yellow: energy, intellect, happiness


The 3 previous colors (red, orange and yellow) are also known as warm colors. They are exciting colors. They give a feeling of high energy.

Green: nature, tranquility, freshness, harmony, fertility


Blue: calmness, peace, responsibility, confidence, trust

This photo is from The International Airport of Korea. The blue tones give a feeling of peacefulness even when the place was quite busy at that time.

Purple: royalty, extravagance, luxury, mystery

You can find purple also in nature.

The 3 previous colors (green, blue and purple) are also known as cold colors. They are considered relaxing colors. They give a feeling of calmness.

Sydney’s Opera Building is completely white, giving a sense of perfection in its shapes.

Black: elegance, formality, power, sexy, mystery

Black cats are considered mysterious animals.

Brown: stability, structure, support

Brown can give to your composition an extra sense of security.

The 3 previous colors (white, black and brown) are also known as neutral colors and they are usually great as backgrounds.

Subjective interpretation of colors

Although there are general interpretations of colors, as individual with different social background and experiences, we perceive them in different ways. I mean, there is a subjective aspect in color interpretation. The feelings a color awakes in you might be different than mines. It is for that reason that we have personal preferences for certain colors. I can give you an example of a personal interpretation of colors. According to the list, purple symbolizes royalty, wisdom, and luxury. For my mom, this color means fear because when she was a little girl she was terrorized for some religious parade in which people was wearing purple clothes. She had a life experience that completely shaped her relation with the purple color to the point that nothing at home was in this color (or any of its shades). You can probably find examples like this one in your own life.

The strong negative connotation that my mom has with the purple colors makes her dislike even the flowers in this color.

Color in your photo composition

In the moment you are composing your photo, you can stop one moment and think if you can include colors that will contribute to your composition. What do you want to say with your photo? Do you want your image to have a general feeling of balance and calmness? Then you might consider to include mostly cold colors such as green and blues and avoid as much as possible elements in warm colors.

The green table and blue cup give a feeling of calm and even a bit of coolness to this coffee. If the cup would have been red and the table orange, things would have had quite a different feeling.

If you want something more energetic, you should consider to include warm colors.

Golden hour is a perfect time to get warm images.

You can also mix warm and cold colors to get a combined feeling of warm and freshness


Change the color mood of your images in Lightroom

You can also play with the color of your photos in post processing using for example Lightroom. To do that, it is better that you shoot your photos in RAW. This photo format will give you more flexibility in the editing for changing colors.

There are different ways you can change the colors of your images. Today I am going to focus on a really straightforward one: playing with the Temperature slider. This technique will help you to get familiar with colors and moods. Once you master this one, you can get into other ways to do it, such as adding color filters or by using the split tone sliders.

You will find the temperature slider in the Develop module, in the Basic adjustments. Moving the slide to the left you decrease the temperature of your colors, meaning that you make them cooler. If you move it to the right, you increase the temperature, adding warm to your photo.

The original color temperature of this image was 4650.


You can get warmer tones by moving the temperature slider to the right. In this particular image, a value of 7119 worked pretty well.


You can get cooler tones by moving the temperature slider to the left.

Deciding which is the right color for your photos is up to you because it depends on what you felt when you were taking the photo and the feelings you want to express.

From up to down: warm, neutral and cold versions.In this photo, I didn’t like the feeling I got with the cold tones because when I took the photo it was warm and I was on a hike with friends, a quite energetic situation. the warm color version of the image express the feelings I had at that moment much better that the cool color version of this image.

Now it is your turn to experiment with colors. Tell me how do you feel about adding color to your photo composition and if you are happy with your new results! Enjoy!

Are you Taking Photos Using your Brain or Your Heart?

Recently I discovered a comic called the “Awkward Yeti”. It has a compilation of cartoons by Nick Seluk explaining the daily experience of Lars, the yeti. But the yeti is not the only character on the series. In fact all of the yeti’s body organs have their own personality and they interact with each other (Nothing creepy here. They are really cool cartoons).  My two favorite organs are Heart and Brain. Brain is the one analyzing everything. He is practical, down to earth and even a bit cynical. Heart is optimistic, always dreaming. Although they are good friends, many times they disagree. I find this cartoon genius. There is so much truth in them! There are times that I totally relate with Brain and others that I am 100% like Heart. And as a photographer, I also have this duality. Is it better to leave the Brain in control of everything when we are taking photos? Or does Heart make a better job? Brain or Heart? Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of being led by one or the other:

Advantages of working with your Brain

Brain stores a lot of information

We live in a world full of information: books, arts, blogs… everything can be a source of knowledge. Travelling or talking with other people can also be great ways of broadening our arsenal of technical skills. Brain is filtering the interesting stuff and it keeps it for future use.

Brain or Heart
I love visiting museums. When I was living in France, I was going a lot to the Louvre (mostly the first Sundays of the month between October and March because the entry is free). I spent hours just looking at any kind of art. I think I learnt a lot about composition at that time.

Brain allows us to understand the technicalities of photography

The word photography has Greek roots and literally means “drawing with light”. In our case, the brush is the camera. In order to use it properly we need to understand the technicalities of the craft: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance… the list is long, but achievable.

Brain helps us to understand how to use our gear

Nowadays cameras can be pretty sophisticated devices. They have a lot of buttons that control tones of settings. The manual of my Nikon D7000 has around 300 pages. And there are several types of cameras that work different: DSRL, mirrorless, compact, film… And this is just about the camera itself. Then we have a huge spectrum of accessories: lenses, flash, reflectors, filters…. In order to be able to use all this gear correctly we need to invest time and get to learn which one to use at any particular situation, how they work and how to use them. This is a mission 100% for Brain.

Brain allows us to solve problems

I am not referring here to problems of our daily life; I am talking about things that need to be solved in order to take a photo: choosing a location, choosing the frame, composition, camera settings, using or not extra gear such as filters or flashes… Brain is the one analyzing the situation and choosing the best option in each step.

Advantages of working with the Heart

Heart is good in emotions

Showing our emotions and expressing our feelings are ways of communication. Joy, happiness, love, anger, sadness…. they are all universal emotions that unite us as humans. For that reason, a photograph full of emotion is a strong thing. As Ansel Adams said:

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

Heart is a dreamer

Heart has no constraints because it is not in charge of analyzing and solving problems. So it allows itself to dream. And sometimes it can dream big. Dreams are a leading force and can keep your motivation awake and in shape.

Brain or Heart
Dreams can be the force that fuels your motivation

Heart is leading your photographic vision

There are important questions, the answers to which define your photographic vision. “Why do you do photography?” or “What do you want to express with your pictures?” You will find the answers to these questions by looking into your heart.

Brain or Heart
Part of my photographic vision is to express my appreciation for life and highlight the importance of being mindful. Almond flowers are beautiful and ephemeral. If you don’t pay attention to their blossom you can totally miss them. And just as we can miss the blossom of the almond flower, if we are not mindful, we might miss other things in life.

What happen when you use too much Brain?

You can get obsessed with gear

There is such a huge variety of gear that can help you to take better photos (technically speaking) that it is extremely easy to get carried away. You can spend tones of time looking for new gear, reading reviews and comparing prices. Don’t misunderstand me. Doing all these things is totally necessary sometimes. But when you find yourself obsessing over gear (which can cost you dearly in terms of both time and money) instead of taking pictures, you are in trouble.

Brain or Heart
You can end up spending too much money on gear if you don’t set limits.

Too much reading too little practice

Brain can get a bit greedy about knowledge. It is always interesting to learn new techniques or trends in photography. Learning is good, but if you are not careful, you can end up learning theories upon theories without practicing.

You can end up taking technically correct photos with an empty soul

As I said before, mastering the whole process of taking photos will lead us to “better” photos. But what is a better photo? One that is better technically? Or one that manage to express something even if it has some technical issues?

Brain or Heart
This was one of the first pictures in which I realized I had an intention. I wanted to show that even in the middle of a totally man-made scenario; life is still able to bloom. It is far from being technically perfect. The ISO was set too high, the composition was not the best, the edition can be better too. But I still like it because it speaks to me.

What happens when you use too much Heart?

You might end up unable to take the photo that  you have in your mind because you don’t know how

You could have a vision, and you may know what you want to express, but if you disregard the importance of the technicalities of photography and your gear, you will be unable to use your tools (or use them inefficiently) in order to achieve your visions. And let’s face it. If you can’t make your vision real, it is as if your vision doesn’t exist at all.

Brain or Heart
I wanted to express movement. For that reason I decided to do panning. I was able to do it because I spent some time learning this technique and practicing it. At the moment I needed it in order to express myself; I was able to do it.

You can get into an emotional roller coaster

Emotions are fundamental in order to express ourselves. But if you are a bit too emotional you can end up being unable to control them. Instead of being an instrument of communication they can easily be overwhelming and become a source of confusion.

You might lack the resources that will lead you to develop your own ideas

If you don’t invest time reading, enjoying art, travelling or doing other activities to broaden your ways of seeing the world, you will have less inspirational resources. These are the things that will help you to develop your own ideas. If you don’t have a good basis, you will suffer more creativity blocks.

Brain or Heart
Get in contact with other cultures or religions broaden your perspectives about life. All the experiences you have in life can have an influence on your photography.

So what is better? Heart or Brain?  I think that as photographers we should aim for a balance between both of them. We need to be able to understand the technicalities of the craft because these are our tools and we should keep learning (Brain). But we also need to listen to our hearts because this is what makes our photography a valuable tool to express our visions.

My personal experience was that along my first years as a photographer I have been too busy with the technique: how to use the camera, light, composition… I don’t mean that now I master them 100%. What I mean is that I reached a point of certain proficiency. I also understand that I will be always in a learning-state (feeding Brain). However, time has arrived for me to start working more on my photographic vision (Heart). Will I be able to balance Brain and Heart? I will work on it! What is your situation? Are you already a balanced photographer? Are you mostly Brain? Or are you mostly Heart? Feel free to share with me your thoughts and feelings about this subject.

Have a happy shooting!!