Photo of the Week 05: On Selecting and Creating a Photograph

Sailboat on Ambergris Caye

Enjoy Belizean themed posts this week! I’m currently in Belize for the week and am sharing posts and images from last year’s trip while I’m away. Look forward to more Belize travel info upon my return.

One of the questions I get a lot as a photographer is: “How do you select what to take a picture of? How do you see the world around you and create your photo from it?”

My initial response is to shrug and say it just comes naturally. But upon further inspection I’ve definitely noticed some patterns. Sometimes it’s a straightforward answer…maybe I have a photo I want to create in my mind before visiting a place, so my eyes are focused on finding that vision. Sometimes a color or pattern will grab me. Sometimes I am inspired by another image or style, and am attempting to recreate it. But most of the time, I think the images I create are a direct result of the sum of my life experiences, dreams, and my own unique interpretation of the world.

Take this week’s photo for example. At face value, it’s a nice, monochromatic photograph that makes me feel calm and happy to look at. But why the sailboat? What did I see in this scene that propelled me to frame it up and make a photograph?

It’s a silent dream not known to many. I can’t pinpoint when it started, but a year or so ago John and I got to talking and developed a mutual dream to one day own a sailboat and sail around Florida, the Bahamas, and even the world. Part of this dream stems from our obsession with Sailing La Vagabonde, an incredibly entertaining vlog by an Australian couple currently circumnavigating the globe.

At work I printed out a photograph of a sailboat anchored on a seemingly private island. I even bought an into to sailing book. And we’ve looked up local sailing lessons in the area to get a feel for what sailing is really like.

So why did I make this picture? I made it as a visual reminder of my dream. Coincidentally while on a trip in Belize with very important women in my life during a time in which I knew I needed to start making changes in my career in order to be truly happy…which meant following some other dreams. The sailboat picture makes me happy every time I look at it, not just because it’s a pretty picture, but because it means something to me.

I think that’s what I love the most about photography. Every photographer out there has a unique set of experiences, dreams, and style that they bring into their images, whether conscious of it or not. This is why you can put 10 photographers in a room together, ask them to photograph the same subject, and get wildly different results. It’s a fascinating way to think about making photographs, and why we choose the scenes and subjects we do.

To me, this photo is a reminder of where I’d like to go in life. It represents my ideal style (clean, bold, colorful) while reminding me of travels and future dreams. It’s also a good reminder that dreams are a process, not reached in a day or sometimes even years, but they are always with us in some form along the way.

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