Seeing the Image as a Photographer

As photographers in the digital age, we are totally spoiled for choice when it comes to equipment, accessories, software, hardware, and you name it. Added to this is the vast amount of information freely available on the web. It’s all a big step up from the age of film photography.

artistic photography

Or is it?

Whatever our equipment—film or digital, professional quality or entry level. Whatever our experience. The key to photography is our vision of the world and how we decide to interpret it and to capture it with whatever equipment we have—film camera, cell phone, SLR, mirrorless, compact, whatever.

seeing an image

As photographers we tend to love technical details about equipment, about technique, about post-processing. However, without the vision to ‘see’ the image it can all be in vain, and we can land up with a multitude of pretty, boring images.

The digital age has brought the ability to mindlessly produce images of an acceptable quality. Photography has become a global flood of freeze-frames; millions of images are uploaded every minute.

millions of uploaded images

We need to make sure that we enjoy the effort of adding our own vision and creativity.

Good pictures demand care—even with digital. And really good pictures are hard to make. The camera doesn’t do it all for you! You need your own personal vision.

“A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” –Dorothea Lange

“Photography is an art of observation. It has very little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” –Elliot Erwitt

Crucial to that vision is to begin looking at the world through the eyes of a child. A child sees everything with a sense of wonder. Everything is fresh, new and exciting.

how a child sees the world

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.” –Rachel Carson

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” –Pablo Picasso

Take a standard photographic debate: Do we want to have pictures of ruins without people?

landmark photo without people

Or with people?

landmark photography with people

But the real question is: Of all those hundreds of people with cameras taking pictures, how many of them saw the poppies?


Developing a child-like vision can give a wonderful new perspective on life. And not only when we are taking photographs—it will help us to see more of life and the world around us.

your photography vision

Photography should be an enjoyable, life enhancing journey and not just a destination. Enjoy a fresh view on life and have fun!

About the Author:
Roger Lee is a Johannesburg based photographer who runs a popular one day course based on the idea that “we don’t want to drown in detail; we just want to know how to use our cameras and enjoy ourselves!”

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3 responses to “Seeing the Image as a Photographer”

  1. Kathy says:

    The biggest struggle for a photographer! To see the world through a child’s eyes!

  2. John O'Connell says:

    You have said it all with just a few words. Developing the photographers eye to see rather than just look is a lifelong effort. Well done, I have posted a link to my photo club.

  3. Roger Lee says:

    Hi Kathy and John – appreciate the comments!
    Cheers, Roger

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