While we start to learn the basics of our DSLR camera operation (I started to cover this last week), we’re also interested in turning our eye into our camera’s lens. This means looking at the world as light, colour, texture, shade, composition and, ultimately, creating interesting, meaningful pictures. This will come naturally to some of us and with great effort for others.
Keeping a visual journal is one way to train your eye. Apart from becoming your mecca to inspiration, a visual journal will improve your commitment and discipline and help you get to know your visual self. How do you really see the world? What does your eye naturally focus on? How do you express yourself creatively?
As you start to collect images that appeal to you, you will start to see themes emerge. These themes will be a guide to the kind of photographer you want to become.
There are four visual journal styles that I would like to recommend, two are online and two are paper-based. We’ll start with the paper-based styles first, as I’m a paper-person myself. Just remember to include your own photography as you go!
Four ways to create a visual journal
1. Mood board
There are people out there who really believe that if you make a mood board of your wishes, everything will come true. We can live with that, right?
For our purposes, a large-scale mood board is a great way to get the stuff you find inspirational into a place you are going to refer to often and hopefully update regularly. You can take a blank wall and just start taping up your favourite things. You can go with a corkboard and a box of tacks and start tearing up magazines. Or you can hang up a series of clipboards and put something fresh up each day.
Here are some inspirational mood boards to help you get started. Do check out the blogs attached to them as well for further creative stimulation.
The beauty of the notebook is that it’s portable and keepable (is that a word? You know what I mean!). Try and get a stitched notebook (rather than a spiral bound or stapled version) for longevity and ease of use and just start sticking and doodling!
You could also use a ring-binder if that’s your style. I use a ring-binder for storing all the ‘tear sheets’ of yummy houses that I rip out of my house porn. I like to flick through it from time to time to remind myself of what my life could be like…
The main thing to point out for our purposes is that Pinterest can be used like a big online mood board. I find myself using it more and more and my real noticeboard less and less.
Click on the image below to go see my ‘Photographer I am in my head’ board. It’s full of awesome ‘how to’ grabs and inspirational images and ideas.
Evernote is a tool we used in the Digi Photo course I completed. It’s basically a way to capture anything and everything and (so important) make it searchable. It’s like hoarding with an index. It’s not something I’ve kept up with, but it might be just your thing.
You create ‘Notebooks’ and then you add Notes to your Notebook. So, you might have a Notebook called ‘locations’ and Notes called ‘Bush’, ‘Beach’, ‘City’, etc. You can add Notes to Evernote by:
Create a Note and start typing.
You can take a picture and add it to a Note – iPhone will send it there directly, otherwise copy and paste your jpegs.
Good old copy and paste anything you like into a Note.
Your Evernote account has a unique email address which you can forward stuff to. It comes up in a default Notebook and you can move it where you want it later.
You can buy an Evernote compatible scanner and scan straight in. Or you can scan and send your jpegs or pdfs to Evernote.
There is an Evernote web clipper via Google Chrome so you can clip entire webpages straight in.
You can record little messages and add them in.
It’s free to sign up to either the web-based or downloadable version, but you can also go with a premium version that needs coin. It’s all rather overwhelming at first – no surprise there, their tagline is “remember everything”! This post at The SKI Report can further point you in the right direction.