The Gift of Sight
For those of you who think I'm referring to good eyesight. . I'm not. The ability to create interesting photographs is more than technical ability. In fact, technical knowledge is best utilized at the end of the creative process. What I mean by this is that many a wonderful image has been produced by low end equipment and/or technique because the photographer had a remarkable vision of what he or she was looking at. Over the years I've seen quite a few very well executed, and technically proficient, but mediocre images.
There is a tendency to sometimes think that the amount of elbow grease or perspiration expended to get a photo will yield a work of art, when frankly the simple (or for some not so simple) act of trusting your vision often times is the critical factor in the success of your photos. Its less important that you find yourself in exotic locations, or pristine environments than it is you are able to see the beauty within the chaos. For example often times simply walking around your neighborhood, camera in hand, or another place that is so familiar to you that you wouldn't normally see the beauty of it, can yield some very rewarding shots.
Look for the extraordinary within the ordinary. Try to expand your vision as well as contract it to see the microcosms of beauty and pattern and color that exist just beneath your feet.
I recently found a beautiful closeup view of a grass sprout with a single drop of dew on it in the middle of a cluttered and rather unimpressive field nearby. My first impulse when looking at the scene was to dismiss it as uninteresting and thus unworthy of a closer look. But then I looked down and in a small square foot area was a pristine scene that just needed to be photographed.
You can also find that everyday objects that you've walked by for years take on a particular beauty when perceived from an isolated perspective.
I certainly don't minimize the importance of good equipment and the assimilation of good technique and execution. But these are simply tools that can only enhance the final product. . but only when the photographer has taught himself or herself to 'see' with an inventive and creative vision.
Photo credits: Lightart.