“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” -Ansel Adams
We see the world around us through the filters of our life’s experiences - all the things he mentioned influence us to some degree, and that forms how we interpret the world around us. That’s why our vision is uniquely ours.
The combination of influential factors for creative photography is different for each of us. When I think about the people I have loved, in various ways, they are/were outdoor-loving, natural, adventurers, in love with the beauty of nature and experiencing it. My father took the whole family on great vacations when I was growing up, but always to a place where we would then hike up mountains, canoe lakes or rivers, and camp in nature.
The photographers I favored were those that shared their vision of nature’s wonders through their pictures, or they love of cultures/places. The music I grew up with was an eclectic mix, -church, folk, classical, rock, jazz, reggae, and “new age.” The instruments that spoke to me were piano, violin, guitar, sax, and drums, to name a few.
When I think about putting a piece of music to my images in a slide show, it’s most often a piano piece, or guitar, in the new age genre or possibly classical or light jazz. When I’m photographing, I typically don’t play music, but if I did, it would likely be new age or classical, something that keeps me in the peace of nature. When I travel, I listen to the local music, as it helps place me there, it immerses me in the culture perhaps a bit more, and I believe that helps me see more deeply.
The books that I resonated with were often books that expressed the beauty of nature, the wonders of places, or ones with an environmental message. These formed the basis for my passion towards capturing nature’s beauty/drama. (Yeah, I read series of historical fiction, steamy romance, and espionage, but those were escapes, flashes in the pan for entertainment).
As I write this post, spontaneously, I can see where all my experiences have indeed influenced how I see the world around me. It has helped me form my own unique vision, and that continues to this day. Take some time to look at your photography, and think on your own life’s experiences, and how they might be showing up in the work that you create.
Editor's Note: Expand your creative photography horizons in Brenda Tharp's excellent online hoto course: Creating Visual Impact.