Copyright 2003 Scott Bourne – All Rights Reserved

Jonathan Swift said…

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

This quote inspires me daily as a photographer. As I walk by a grove of trees, I see things differently than my non-photographer friends. They see a clump of trees. I see the grass beneath the trees, the light streaming through the leaves, the birds in their nests on the branches, the intricate pattern in the bark, the strength of the trunk, the outgrowth of the roots,  the different colors and tonality in the leaves, the way the shadows fall across the wood, the angle of the light as it hits the canopy, the shadow the tree makes on the river below, the line the branch follows from the tree trunk, etc.

When photographers look at the world, they look at it through a special lens – pun intended. It’s a filter of sorts that sifts the importance of one thing or another. This ability to sift and sort, to include and exclude, to drill down into the meat of the scene, that’s what comprises the photographer’s vision. I like to think that we can all use more of that.


Here’s a vision exercise for you that doesn’t require a camera. Try to describe something (like a tree) as if you were describing it to a blind person who had never received the gift of sight. Then go photograph as if that picture would be the only one ever seen of a tree.


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