November 6, 2015

The Intersection of Vision and Passion

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

I’ve just driven 7000 miles in 22 days and during that time traveled through 22 states and 2 Canadian Provinces. That’s a lot of time in the car and it afforded a lot of thinking. 

And what I’ve been thinking about is Passion and how it relates to Vision.

I noticed that as I drove through the incredibly beautiful autumn scenery of New England, I was not inspired to create. But when I came across water of any kind, and particularly along the coast, I found myself excited and creating.

Now one might initially attribute this to me being a black and white photographer in the middle of a color wonderland. But I don’t think that’s what it was. Fall colors can make for some amazing black and white images and I know that there are great images in those hills. 

And yet here were thousands of photographers flocking to the area to shoot the beauty of the mountains and trees…and I’m only taking the occasional iPhone snapshot to send back to my family! Why?

My conclusion is that I just don’t feel a Passion for mountains and trees, but I do for water. 

But “why” do certain environs inspire me while others do not? I don’t know and the “why” is not very important to me: what’s important is that I recognize the source of my Passion and then do something about it.

In the past I’ve tried to force projects that I didn’t have a Passion for: the projects languished, I had to force myself to work on them and I was not happy with the results. Not one of those projects were ever successful. 

Never. Not one. Ever.

And so I’ve decided that with my limited time I will only focus on the places and things that excite me most, and for now that’s water and the coast.

I’ve long understood the role of Vision in creating work that I love, but now I’m beginning to appreciate the role of Passion as being nearly as important.

With Vision I can create unique images. With Passion comes an excitement that drives me.

And while I might use each one individually to some success, I now realize that my best work is created at the intersection of Vision and Passion.



23 thoughts on “The Intersection of Vision and Passion

  1. What a wonderful reflection on passion! You have elegantly articulated something that has rattled around in my head for quite some time now. I know that water moves me much more than mountains and trees (though I do admire them, and I am well aware that the reaction I have to water is felt by others for mountains and trees!), but you have said it so very well!

    Lovely image, which I relate to all the more, since I was there within a week or so of your visit!

  2. Cole-

    Keep following your passion in pursuit of the “vision”. When you get there, take a photograph, and move on. Your pursuit of the vision is wonderful to see in your work.

    Best Regards.


  3. Cole,

    Great observation! And a beauty of an image you posted.

    Although I’m just the opposite (my passion is solo and small groups of trees) I clearly see your point. You need to drive even more. Maybe you’ll think of something else that drives you! Be well. Dan

  4. Very true words cole, I’m also just back from a 2 week sojourn, primarily a holiday with friends from way back and a trip around parts of Aus with them but the camera and gear came along for the ride, while they happily iPhone snapped away and filled them up with images, i took in total 12 shots and 3 of them will likely see the light of day, I’m slowly honing my vision while the passion takes care of itself.. Look forward to seeing some more of your vision and passion.. Take care, safe travels..

  5. Interesting observation, Cole! I just returned from a weekend in the Pocono Mountains, in the midst of the fall color seasons. I must admit that I love the colors, especially being from a place where we don’t have them. One thing I did see a lot were lakes, and I made several b&w images of them. The same is true for creeks and waterfalls. Both are made of water…
    So my question is, does this kind of water move you as well, or only coastal waters?
    In any case, maybe your passion is related to the fact that water is the source of life ;-)!

  6. Have to admit, I feel the same way about land versus water…water always wins. Perhaps that’s the reason I never seem to leave the east coast. Much of my family lives in Colorado and they keep telling me to move out and I keep telling them the area doesn’t do it for me.

    Beautiful image. Like the way all the leading lines direct the eye to the lighthouse.

    And thanks for stopping by our club and presenting a very memorable talk on “Why Black and White.” It inspired many members including myself.

  7. Cole,

    Your essay is interesting on a number of levels.

    I’ve noticed, like Steve F wrote above, that I am less likely to simply shoot a beautiful scene just because it’s there. I lack your clarity of vision but I am more sensitive to what really moves me.

  8. The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention. (Dorothea Lange)

  9. She actually stole this quote from Francis Bacon:
    “The contemplation of things as they are without substitution or imposture without error or confusion is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.”

  10. You are right! When there’s no passion, the result can’t be extraordinary. It’s a wise decision you made. It take some gut to do it, to follow your inner voice, but if photography is seen as an art, we should create with passion.

    For me its like this with people. Sometimes I can’t stand the thought of taking portraits. Sometimes I go to an new city to just people watch,thinking about unique ideas for portraits.

  11. Is it a passion for water, or the lure of the far away? Colorado’s Front Range, where we both live, is semi-arid and full of mountains. That makes this kind of landscape rather ordinary — for us anyway. But seeing the ocean, or anything out of the ordinary is inspiring. It does not rain much here, so just seeing the raindrops on my car windshield the other day was magical…

  12. Cole…
    I’m a recent subscriber to your fascinating and informative blog. The quality has spurred me to read archived entries, too. I’ve never been one to focus on a certain theme or style. Your thoughts regarding vision have altered what I seek and shoot. I followed your lead by ruthlessly identifying the common elements of my favorite images. Then, with this latest entry you clarified why I chose the images I did.

    What struck me most, however, was that your message has universal applicability to all pursuits in life. I intend to share your message with many people young and old. Thank you for the inspiration!

  13. Peggy’s Cove, now you’re in my back yard! Should’ve dropped by for a coffee :). If water is the passion, you should also consider Newfoundland, (Twillingate/Fogo) as a potential destination in the June/ early July timeframe to capture the transient sentinels – icebergs and the fabulous seascapes there.

  14. Hmm, a passion for water but not mountains and trees… doesn’t that make it hard on you, living in Colorado and all 🙂

    Beautiful image of Peggy’s Cove, btw.

  15. Hi Cole. Thanks for sharing, and beautiful image. I love your commitment to passion. It’s really all that counts.
    But with all due respect, let me challenge you a tad. Is your passion water or is your passion long exposure? Is your passion making beautiful b&w of water, rocks and sky or is your passion interpreting nature, and people, with technology from Singh ray and Canon? If you passion is water, why not other techniques?
    I think your passion may be demonstrating the passage of time, in b&w, in water, sky, people, or whatever lies before your creative eyes. Perhaps?

  16. I was recently in Vietnam for personal travel and realized that, while the country is just rife with interesting photo subjects, they’re not the type of subjects I’m passionate about myself. I fought a little guilt/shame at first, but then realized that I’m just not that into taking street and portrait images. I think they’re great, yes, but they’re not my thing and that’s okay. It took me a bit to get there, but once I did, I was liberated to just enjoy the scenes around me with only my phone camera and eyes. It was great, and continues to feel liberating and empowering. Thanks for your post and for the validation it provided.

  17. Just returned from a family trip and read this post. It resonated with me. Many times I have been encouraged to do landscape photography, but it never moves me, and my images are never very good. The fine textures, contrasts, and lines in botanicals however, can keep me occupied for hours. I may be the only one enjoying them and that’s OK!

  18. Your blog was written by the heart and makes great sense. After one of our camera club members put out a notice that the leaves were in full color a couple of weeks ago, I joked that I was going to put out a notice saying that the local salvage yard had lots of nicely colored rusty cars. Not everyone has the same passion, and although I love a good tree in fall colors, I prefer a salvage yard with lots of old colored and rusty objects and an old building with cracked walls and old wood – that is my passion. Thanks for making it safer to feel that way.

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