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. processing a vision


Back in October I made an image that I didn’t take. It was a photograph I had in my mind. A vision of a feeling and an emotional moment brought to fruition. I picked the location, I picked the lighting and time of day, I picked the aperture and the shutter speed, I picked the models (although I did have to settle for one style element that was not as I had wanted it. I had just emerged from the Pacific Ocean after a wonderful swim and felt it was the opportunity I was looking for to make this image so I had to forgo drying my hair), I picked the wardrobe, I handed my husband the camera and said start shooting. Then I did the processing and selected the final image.

But, I did not take the image. I did not click the shutter.

It was an image made the way many commercial images are made. Many advertising images are produced by the photographer (by telling assistants, stylists and producers what they want in the shot, where to put the lights etc) in collaboration with an Art Director, the shutter is released by an assistant and the final image selected by the photographer. I spent most of my formative years as a commercial photographer finally deciding that I didn’t want to just technically manifest the images of other people’s visions. It took me many more years to finally decide that I needed to be making my own images in my own way and not just be a mentor to other photographers.

So, the discussion has been: who made this image? Did my husband make the image or did I make the image. My husband took the photograph and I made the photograph I guess you could say. Does merely clicking the shutter make you the photographer?

I feel that photographs, just as paintings and illustrations, are made not taken. Images come from a vision, an idea, a conscious choice. If a photograph is merely taken, this is simply taking a snapshot. If you make a CONSCIOUS choice for the type of film, the camera, the lens, the shutter speed, the aperture, the ISO, the compositional elements, the subject, the background, the props, the light, you are making an image.

So the question I ponder from there is what if you aren’t making those conscious choices? What if you are using auto on your camera? What if you aren’t using the lens you wish you owned? What if you are not making a choice for compositional elements of line, rhythm, balance, depth of field then are you actually making an image or are you taking a snapshot? I learned early on in my studies that a snapshot is a photograph with no regard for exposure, composition and subject.

What do you think?

Leave me a comment here on my blog then go to Facebook and *Like* my Loupe Photography Workshop page and I will send you the LR/ACR preset I personally developed for all my North Shore photographs (including this one). My entire set of presets will be one of the goodies given to all attendees of the Loupe Photography Workshop!


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  1. Reply


    March 20, 2012

    I am pretty new to pro photography and I love the element of chance that still exists for me. I hope it never goes away. If these shots are your vision and all decisions made are your then it’s yours, right? Otherwise, I would say it’s a collaboration.

  2. Reply

    Juli I

    March 20, 2012

    I think I take a lot of snapshots and, ocassionally, make a photograph :o). I’ve only been really “studying” photography for a year and a half and everytime I learn something new I think I take a step closer to becoming a “photographer.” For me, so many of the elements of good photography are still so new to me, they are not yet a natural part of who I am. My 365 project has really helped me practice the elements necessary to make a great photo but I only rarely get them all right. I’ve realized after reading your thoughts that I’m definitely an opportunist rather than a visionary. I think maybe focusing on visioning my photographs is the next step on my journey.

  3. Reply

    Amy F.

    March 20, 2012

    Food for thought for sure!! I do think a professional photographer (or artist) makes consious choices for everything they do. But I also think that it is possible for someone on “auto” mode to create a beautiful image by “luck” and I don’t think that image is any less important than the consious one. The aritist is consistantly making consious choices and the amature gets a few lucky ones a year. It similar to why people play golf…everyone once in a while you can swing like Tiger Woods, but doing it once doesn’t make you a pro. Miss you my dear friend and am so sad I am on the wrong coast for your class. If it ever goes online I will be the first to register!

  4. Reply

    Gretchen Willis

    March 20, 2012

    I agree. It’s been a long road to get here (and I still have so far to go) but just last week I imagined an image in my mind before I went out and shot it, and I was able to execute exactly what I wanted. That was such a rush!!!

  5. Reply


    March 20, 2012

    I think taking the picture or seeing the picture makes you who you are. You can always change what you don’t like in the picture but you can’t change the memory. I would love to attend the workshop but that is not in the funds right now. Would love to see your action on my photos though.

  6. Reply

    Heather Richard

    March 21, 2012

    I think if the vision is yours, the set up yours, and the direction given yours. So the end results is yours as well

  7. Reply


    March 21, 2012

    Hi love this look!!

  8. Reply


    March 21, 2012

    Hi! Amazing work, I’m totally in love with it! Liked your FB page and would be thrilled to get you preset! Thank you for the inspiration!

  9. Reply


    March 21, 2012

    Thank you. Tytia Habing pointed me in your direction. Lovely images; wonderful post.

  10. Reply

    Aimee Lower

    March 21, 2012

    I think that orchestrating your vision is basically the same as taking the photo. I’ve had my husband take a couple snapshots of us before but I’ve showed him what I wanted the camera set at.. etc.. I also think that in a good photoshoot you can have composed photos and snapshots that both turn out to be amazing photos. I think that there are times that you set up a pose, get the person to do exactly what you want and that is a composed photo but then when you’re sitting back looking at your client you see them interact and do something super cute together and you raise your camera and take a snapshot, not really thinking about the exposure or anything like that but just thinking that it was a cute, loving moment that you wanted to capture. That doesn’t mean that that photo is any less important then the one that you had them pose in.. if anything the client usually loves that photo just as much if not more because you’re capturing them in their element with no pretense. So in conclusion I think that you can achieve both a professional photo and a snapshot in the same sitting and both will be amazing photos.

  11. Reply

    Lauren Fair

    March 21, 2012

    Love what you’ve spoken here! I discovered you through another photog friend and love your work – this preset is beautiful!

  12. Reply

    Debra Heschl Photography

    March 21, 2012

    Lovely captures 🙂 I love Beach shots..love the emotion you created in your vision..priceless!

  13. Reply

    Natalia Bishop

    March 21, 2012

    I absolutely love your work!! you hit the nail right on the head with this post! having a vision and make it come to life vs just clicking the shutter!! love it 🙂

  14. Reply

    Amanda Harper

    March 22, 2012

    Your photos are gorgeous! Like your FB page. I love the dreamy look to your photos! Would LOVE to try out your preset!

  15. Reply

    Renee Bonuccelli

    March 22, 2012

    I do this too:) I find it easier to instruct a live human to capture my ‘vision’ and intent than setting up the tripod. Plus my husband has good instincts;) I think it’s so important to capture these ideas/visions when they include ourselves as the subject. As for if it’s an image or a snapshot. I don’t buy into it – the idea that they have to be separate and that one is worth ‘less’ than the other. I don’t value snapshots any less than I value images – I’ve had images turn out to be crap and I’ve had snapshots turn out to be stellar. For me, as an artist, I just want to capture what my soul longs to see – however that comes about. Thank you for offering up your presets – I’m so glad I found my way here – your blog and images are lovely – I’ll be back often:)

  16. Reply


    March 24, 2012

    If you love the snapshot and it evokes feeling – does that then qualify it as an image? I agree with you but there’s a steep learning curve to get to that point. Thanks for making me think.

  17. Reply

    Sarah Zalan

    March 24, 2012

    I’ve never thought of photography this way…who took the picture…hmmm.
    Your images are yummy! Would love to try out your preset. =)

  18. Reply


    March 24, 2012

    Interesting post! Definetly something to think about… I personally think that you need to make conscious choices in order to really MAKE a photo. Anyone can take “a photo” right, but not everyone can make breathtaking images.

  19. Reply


    March 25, 2012

    I love this look, would love to try your preset!

  20. Reply

    Cheryl Myers

    March 25, 2012

    Just Beautiful!

  21. Reply

    Rae Huo

    March 25, 2012

    Wish I were there to join your Loupe photography workshop to get educated and recieve your presets – you constantly inspire me to look at my own images in ways I used to look at my paintings. And now before I click the shutter, I try to create that “image”.

  22. Reply


    March 26, 2012

    Beautiful photo’s and a great post to read

  23. Reply


    March 27, 2012

    interesting read, I can’t say that have never thought about it that way. That being said, I feel like I try to take photographs rather than snapshots because they have so much more meaning to them. Great article, and beautiful photos.

  24. Reply


    March 28, 2012

    I found you through “Click it up a Notch.” Very inspired by your work. “Liked” you on FB. Thanks for sharing your work.

  25. Reply


    March 28, 2012

    beautiful work…can’t wait to try your preset

  26. Reply

    Cathy H

    March 28, 2012

    LOVE THE preset you made.. Love the photos! I only hope one day to be able to photgraph like this.

  27. Reply


    March 28, 2012

    I agree, there is defintiely more to a photo then pushing the button. You are obviously an artist. The image you created in your mind. . . perfection.
    It definitely makes me want to take more control of all aspects of my photos. I need some work. 🙂

  28. Reply


    March 28, 2012

    Well you really got me thinking. I am glad I found your blog and facebook page. I am just starting out in photography, but I am finding that you have to understand what makes a good picture. Then you choose how you are going to use those settings to make a creative piece of art. Thanks for making me think a little =)

  29. Reply


    March 28, 2012

    Great article! I liked your fb page! Would love to try your preset!

  30. Reply


    March 28, 2012

    Being rather new to the professional photography group (not sure I am confident even calling myself a pro yet) I am always reading, always researching and always trying to find my style. I like what you have to say – I’m thinking about it a lot tonight! I believe a photograph is made, it’s about a vision – a style – produced on paper for the world to see for years to come.

  31. Reply


    March 28, 2012

    your words are inspiring and true and i thank you for sharing them with us and reminding us all that there is a difference, a very big difference between taking a snapshot and making an image. thank you for this.

  32. Reply


    March 28, 2012

    Lovely images! Can’t wait to try the Lightroom preset!

  33. Reply


    March 28, 2012

    Liked your page and love your work! Would love to try one of your presets! Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

  34. Reply

    Benita C

    March 29, 2012

    I like what you said about having a vision for the end photograph, and then making choices to realize that vision. Thanks for the insight.

  35. Reply


    March 29, 2012

    I’m a Photographer in the learning phase. I’ve done a lot of snapshots but am constantly becoming more aware of all the elements that go into making a photograph. I really like your beach shots and the image you created.

  36. Reply


    March 29, 2012

    I have been trying to articulate this very thing but was ever successful in describing it as eloquently as you. I love capturing spontaneous candid shots. Not necessarily happy ones but authentic reflections of the person(s) I am photographing. There is something about the eyes that reveals the soul.

    What you discribed about is exactly what happened (from initial vision to fial image) with a recent wedding session I did. While previously visiting the house where the bride would be getting ready I saw a door leading out to the backyard. Morning light was cascading into the room from it. In my mind’s eye, I envisioned the bride standing there in her gown looking ethereal bathed in the soft light.

    On the actual afternoon of the wedding I purposely put the bride where I wanted, positioned her adjusted my settings and saw that image of my vision in my viewfinder. Editing it afterward ws the last step in bringing that image to life.

    It was an amazing experience. And taught me a lot. I had been guilty of the spray and pray method. I understad why I did it. Being more intentional ow has changed not only how I shoot but why I shoot.

    Thanks for this wonderful article.
    I am unable to get to your Facebook due to blocks at work but I will visit their later this afternoon.I look forward to reading your blog ad to using your presets.


  37. Reply

    Christina Ridge

    March 29, 2012

    Beautiful! Can’t wait to get my hands on the preset! 🙂

  38. Reply


    March 29, 2012

    I love your work! I say it totally counts that you were the photographer in your photo. 🙂

    Can’t wait to try your preset! Thank you so much for sharing!

  39. Reply


    March 29, 2012

    I am so adding this blog to my regular list of reads… love your work (and presets!)

  40. Reply


    March 30, 2012

    Thanks for sharing your article! I liked your fb page and I am looking forward to trying your preset on some recent pictures that I took on vacation.

  41. Reply

    Alison Folendore

    March 30, 2012

    Nice article! Great inspiration. I am definitely a fan. Just liked you on facebook and very interested in checking out the preset!

  42. Reply


    March 30, 2012

    I loved this post. With DSLR’s so accessible the image creation has been lost in so many photographers – the “spray and pray” technique is so popular. Thank you for this. Your expressions resinate deep with me.

  43. Reply


    March 30, 2012

    Love the pic…love that you had the vision and made it a reality. I’ve found that usually when you have help along the way it makes it more meaningful to share too. Liked the fb page and would love to check out the preset 🙂

  44. Reply

    DeAnn Payne

    March 30, 2012

    I liked your FB page 🙂 I like you too 😉 I appreciate the way you think I feel like I am seeing your true thoughts not just some junk you wrote up to put on a blog. I feel like I identify with the way you think and I just realized that doesn’t happen very often, so thank you for sharing your thoughts,insights and wisdom.

  45. Reply

    Serendipity is Sweet

    March 30, 2012

    I switched from auto last summer and have been devouring all I can find on photography ever since. As I learn more I am trying to shoot with more intention. It’s isn’t always easy. At least for me, I have to train myself to slow down and be selective. I find when I do plan ahead and prepare for a shot my vision comes through more strongly. But, because I am most often shooting my kids, the snapshot moments, the snippets of daily life, are sometimes my favorites anyway.

    My goal is to make beautiful images that capture the essence of who someone really is, and tell the story of the moment, without creating something artificial.

  46. Reply


    March 30, 2012

    Love loveeee all your photos veryyyy muchhhhh!!! and can’t wait to get your preset! :)))

  47. Reply

    Kate D

    March 31, 2012

    this is beautiful PP!

  48. Reply


    April 1, 2012

    Lovely, just lovely! Thanks for the article. I will definitely be keeping your questions in mind when I shoot.

  49. Reply


    April 2, 2012

    The image turned out beautiful! I love the processing on it and can’t wait to try out the presets on some of my own pictures! Thanks!

  50. Reply

    Kimberly Pellegrino

    April 29, 2012

    I loved this blog entry. Your honest approach to the art of photography is so appreciated and resonates with me. You are truly an inspiration.

  51. Reply

    Gareth Evans

    May 3, 2012

    Such a soft, dreamy ‘look’ to this image. Love it !

  52. Reply

    Susan Byrd

    July 18, 2012

    Love the soft look of this image.

  53. Reply


    September 4, 2012

    the story behind the photoshoots is beautifiul! i love the photograph and the presets are gorgeous! thank you for this giveaway (i liked you on facebook as well)

  54. Reply

    Catherine K

    October 31, 2012

    Came here from Clickitupanotch. Love your images. I took a photography workshop in the spring that has been life-changing and I’m trying to learn everything I can including how to make amazing edits like yours. Can’t wait to try the LR presets!

  55. Reply


    February 3, 2013

    I’ve often wondered this same thing when I’ve set up a shot and had one of my kids/husband snap it!

  56. Reply


    February 5, 2013

    I ADORE this image!! It is just breathtaking! I have often questioned the same things. I had a second shooter at a wedding one time. I told him exactly what I wanted shot on a couple of shots. I told him the angle, how I wanted them to stand–everything! The images turned out amazing and exactly how I pictured in my mind’s eye. To this day, I cannot use the image because I feel guilty that I did not actually press the shutter to take the picture!! The second shooter keeps telling me that it is “my” shot and I should feel fine to use it….

  57. Reply

    Shelbie Hankey

    May 1, 2013

    Love the images and thank you so much for the offer!

  58. Reply


    August 2, 2013

    You truly helped to understand a lot about photogrhy! Thank you again 🙂

  59. Reply


    August 24, 2013


  60. Reply


    November 14, 2013

    I love how the lighting draws you into the intimacy. Beautiful work.

  61. Reply


    February 26, 2014

    today I found your FB page, your photos are beautiful! Could you please send me this preset? It is very very nice, I really love it!!!!!! Thank you soooo much 🙂 hana

  1. Reply

    Photography as Art: Purposefully Creating Photos that Take Your Breath Away Guest Post by Kristianne Koch - Click it Up a Notch

    March 28, 2012

    […] is also giving away a FREE preset for Lightroom/ACR. Just head over to her blog post – Processing a Vision for more […]