Vision VS Ability VS Knowledge

There is allot of talk about vision and it’s importance in the art realm and more specifically in the photography world these days it seems to be all the rage and for many it has become the most important talking point out there and probably ties only by gear talk.


Now don’t get me wrong this is not to dispute visions importance or it’s place in the hierarchy of what's first or most important. Rather I am saying that vision is of great importance but the thing about vision that is the most important is that we as artist need to push and expand our vision. It is great to have vision it drives us to create. But our vision has limits and unless pushed to the limits and pushed beyond our ability and knowledge it will simply stall and and lead to homogeny and well there is just no place for that in our art.

Fact is we need to be chasing our vision not just standing next to it. Our vision needs to be out in front of us it needs to be just out of our reach it needs to outpace our knowledge and our abilities and we need to then increase our knowledge and our abilities to try and catch up to our vision.



Our ability to create what we want and is our vision changes over time. Through experience and emotion plans ideas and passions. If we are in the right position our abilities will get us close to our vision but not quite all the way there. They call this artwork for a reason we have to work at it. Like anything anyone does the more you do it the more you abilities increase and the better you get at it and you move forward. This forward movement for artist means creating new work that gets you closer to your vision and our your ability to express that vision even if you come up a little short of the goal.  It is our job as artist to make sure we are constantly increasing our abilities to try and catch up with our vision.

We do this by simply creating and staying in the race. We pay close attention to our creative process and what is driving us. As artist we have to keep creating keep practicing and as my professors once said it’s not practice that makes perfect but perfect practice that makes perfect (granted he was an english professor). The great thing about art is well “perfect practice” can be not so perfect and even a little messy but if we know and are paying attention to our own creative process the practice will lead us down the path we need to be on to create.


The next step to ability in the world of practice is we have to challenge ourselves and we have to know where to find challenges to that we have to try and work at it so that the practice is going to good use. This means we will fail and to be honest we need that failure so we can learn and move forward.


Here’s a little example for you. As a photographer I have cameras with way more buttons and gizmos these days than I care to think about.Now if I take time to work with my tools learn what the esssntial buttons and dials do and I work with them enough I will get to the point that I do not have to pull the camera away from my eye to make adjustment to create the image I am invisioning I can just move my fingers and make it happen. The act of shooting frequently and “practicing” making adjustments creates muscle memory. Now as time goes on I can make adjustments fast and on the fly and I miss fewer shots that and I get more efficient and can work cleaner, faster, and stay in the moment more which allows me to create even more meaningful work closer to my vision than if I have to stop and think it through it becomes reflex.


My grandfather once told me a few things about knowledge. First he told me I can learn something from everyone I meet. Second he told me to never stop learning and being open to failure so I can learn from it.


These two simple things have driven me for years. Sometimes I lose sight of what they are telling me but ultimately I do pull my head out of the sand and find that clarity to simply Look, Listen, and learn to accept the fact as smart as I like to think I am I do not and will not ever know it all and it is time to get some help, motivation and education. Fact is we can not create better tomorrow than today if we do not have the knowledge to understand what more is possible. Knowing our tools and what they can do is paramount. Even if we do not know exactly how to use all of these tools to their full ability knowing they can do more and maybe knowing just some of what they can do can and will lead us to do more and push our vision.


“True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know” Confucius


So let's try and make this point without getting too deep. But i do love a good quote. Fact is whether we like it or not we have to be wise or at least try to use some wisdom. All of this said what we do not know about our chosen craft can cripple us and stop us dead in our tracks and keep us from getting anywhere close to our vision.


I am not saying we all have to be geniuses or that we have to know it all. But knowing what we don't know and knowing where to get new information and knowledge.

So for another example let's use PHOTOSHOP. This is an amazing and often stressful software program that I use to create much of my work. Now I do not know how to do but a handful of things in photoshop but what I do know is it is an incredibly powerful program with seemingly limitless possibilities. It is one of those things that you want to do something and you know photoshop is the tool but you just don’t know how to get photoshop to do it. So you go find someplace or someone to show you how. Now the frustrating part of photoshop is there are millions of things to do in photoshop and just as many ways to do each of them so it can be a bit stressful to use as a tool.


Fact is I often know or at least think things can be done and this often drives or steers my vision and then it is up to me to learn what tool I need to accomplish said vision then the knowledge and ability to use this tool in the correct way to get there. Fun part is that in this knowledge and experience gathering process I often find a really cool left turn that adds to or completely shifts my vision in a new more exciting direction of more learning and discovery



For me what this points to  is all three of these are inextricably connected and create a symbiotic circle so that we can with luck and a ton of hard work we will be able to have a successful and fun career as artists and creatives. Fact is we have to keep working and practicing we have to keep learning and chasing our vision and maybe just maybe one day we will catch it.