I recently came across an interview with an American icon and legendary photographer, Ansel Adams. A British TV journalist was interviewing him. When asked if his famous photograph, Moonrise over Hernandez, was made at night, Adams said he captured in the late afternoon. It was 4.49 pm. He saw the scene unfold from the car, visualized the image, and then captured it on his 8×10 camera. In his darkroom, thanks to his masterful approach to dodging and burning, the afternoon became night. And the image became a legend.
In another interview, Adams pointed out that most people think of photography as an external event. You see a scene and snap, snap, snap. It is “recording things for their own memory in the future,” Adams said. In contrast, when it comes to creative photography, Adams pointed out that there is an internal event inside your mind.
Adams pointed to a comment by Alfred Stieglitz, another legendary photographer. “I never really go out to make a photograph,” Stieglitz said. “When I come across something that excites me, and I see the picture in my mind’s eye, and I make the photograph.”
“Specifically seeing it the mind’s eye which we call visualization,” Adams said in the interview. “The picture has to be there clearly, and if you have enough craft in your own work, in your practice, then you can then make the photograph.”
August 4, 2020. San Francisco