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The Impressionist Eye Inspiration for Impressionist Photography

Going Beyond the Visual to REACH THE VISION
image of a dandelion

Many people never go beyond looking at the world around them, simply taking immediate visual input. As photographers we have to learn to openour eyes and learn not only to see, but also to interpret what we see and portray it so that others can share our vision.

To create impressionist photography, you must first understand what impressionism really is. The primary aim of impressionist photography is expressing the effect of light upon the object in the scene. Impressionism is not a definable technique, but a way of seeing.

The techniques used are influenced by direct visual experience. When you study the work of other impressionist photographers, you study their personal description of the effect of the light. All impressionist photographs share rawness, an unrehearsed response to what the artist is seeing, and that honesty and excitement radiate from the image.

"If we see an object as a 'bowl,' it may inhibit seeing it as 'craft,' just as seeing it as 'craft' might inhibit seeing it as 'art.' See first; name later."-- Darby Bannard

Effective photography has a lot to do with being in the right frame of mind to adjust our perception of the visual world. Although we see our surroundings as a collection of physical things, we also need to look in a less analytical way, so that we contemplate the world in terms of patterns, shapes, contrast and textures. It is surprising how fairly mundane things, when seen in this way, can hold considerable appeal.

Everywhere you look there is an almost overwhelming array of visual information. It is a good idea to get yourself into a receptive frame of mind by exploring your chosen environment without any preconceived ideas about a subject matter, and then wait for something to suggest itself to you. This is a liberating way of working, because this will allow you to find things without really making a conscious effort to look for them.

With this approach you can always remain open to seeing things with a fresh eye and be able to discover something new even when visiting the same place a number of times.

Composition, tone and colour are the building blocks of any picture and the challenge lies in reducing all the information in the different elements of the image to the necessary minimum. Try to see things in terms of shapes rather than objects. Ask yourself what the fundamentals of the subject are and what kind of information you will need to have in order to communicate your message, your ideas and your vision.

Over time, your artistic eye and technical ability will develop beyond the point of continually struggling with the technical aspects of image making, and the principles of impressionist photography will start to become second nature. That is when your own vision, interpretation, and style will begin to develop. You will also be able to tackle the more complex and unusual compositions just by focusing your senses into the atmosphere of the setting.

I cannot stress enough the importance of becoming more spontaneous and intuitive. Creating impressionist photographs cannot be done through a methodical approach. Spontaneity and impressionist photography go hand in hand.

Impressionist photography does not have to be difficult. Many beginners or those new to this approach of image-making are afraid to make a mistake. It is important to remember that if you don't like the results of your first attempt, you can simply delete your images and start again. Recognise that this is just part of the creative process, and the beauty of being able to work with digital technologies. It's through the experience of creating photographs that you learn, and once you grasp the step-by-step concepts you will be able to photograph with confidence.

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