Creative Intent

How we compose our images, or how we choose to use light, is a personal and creative choice.   The perspective we make our pictures from is our choice.  Or is it?

If you make a picture and it is successful, does it make any difference to you if you put a lot of work into the composition, or if you merely made the shot from a provided spot like a scenic overlook?  I mean good is good right?  If you used that overlook does it not mean that some park or road planner, did your compositional work for you?

The photos below are from Theodore Roosevelt N.P., North Dakota and Dinosaur N.M., Colorado respectively.   They were made from overlooks that were created by planners many years ago.  Both of these images have had some success in their lifetime.  Should I get any credit?  Should those planners get the credit?  Did I not choose where to set up my tripod within the area provided?  Did I not choose my tripod height and which focal length to use?  Still how much of me went into these pictures?

For each of the images below, I spent a fair amount of time and effort looking for a unique perspective.  The top picture was made at Morgan Falls in Wisconsin and this is a composition that few photographers seem to discover at this location. The second shot is a Lake Michigan tidal pool and the sunrise was almost over when I finally settled on the idea of changing the picture from a Lake Michigan sunrise to featuring the tidal pool. The third picture was made in the Badlands of South Dakota and was a study of light and shadows.  Time was spent finding a composition to emphasize that light. None of these images has been particularly popular but when I look at them, I remember the artistic process I went through to create them and it gives me satisfaction.  Was I a better photographer when I made these three photos?  Was I a smarter photographer when I made the two photos above this paragraph?

In my opinion, each image we make is separate and they are what they are to me, and the are what they are to any individuals who may view them.  I take full credit for making popular images from public viewing points.  I chose the overlook, lens choice and tripod height.  I thank the public planners of those spots for their assistance.  I also savor the satisfaction I receive from the point of view that I discovered (created?), as in the making of the final three.  I will enjoy them regardless of their lack of popularity.

Unless you are in the habit of making snapshots, our images are our images.  They may be public but they are intensely personal and I wouldn’t want it any other way.


I have written many times that I believe that as nature photographers we can pretty much do it all as far as photographing all of the subjects that are out there, and doing so in many different ways.  In other words we can photograph wildlife, landscapes and macros of all types.  We can make those clean and beautiful wildlife pictures and at other times make those “busy” less attractive pictures that show a not so pretty picture in a cluttered habitat.   We are all good enough to do that.  I am pretty happy with the current state of nature photography.  Those few bullies of the field that we see will eventually disappear and those that use nature photography merely as a gimmick to become well-known will also find betters vehicles to that end and will also disappear.


In keeping with the concept that we can photograph everything in nature, I present to you a Fox Snake photographed many years ago while I and my partner conducted a Door County, Wisconsin workshop.  These are without question, only record shots for this species.


I thank you for stopping by. My intended purpose on this blog, whether the subject be photography or something else, is to provide food for thought.  I hope you find such sustenance somewhere in my or Ron Toel’s writings.

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1 Response to Creative Intent

  1. Pingback: Short Stories | Wayne Nelson's Earth Image's Blog

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