The New Fine Art Photography
THE MANIFEST OF (en)VISIONOGRAPHY
ENLIGHTENMENT THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY
This is where you can learn what (en)Visionography is and how to create it.
This is where this concept originated and developed into an artistic philosophy and a photography style.
From here (en)Visionography spread out all over the world and became a new way of seeing and creating photography as an art form that renders the vision of the artist in light and shadows.
– noun –
The process of using reality as a tool for
translating one’s inner self and representation
of the world into an art object that can make
I’ve been talking about (en)Visionography for quite a few years now, too many to count. I’ve written a book, From Basics to Fine Art, where I’m talking about it quite extensively, among other things, I’ve made video tutorials where I am elaborating about it like for instance Creating (en)Visionography, I am teaching workshops about (en)Visionography all over the world, I’ve been writing about it in my blog posts and have published numerous articles in various publications, I’ve given lectures about it, I’m hosting a large community on Facebook that is dedicated to (en)Visionography, and generally it is a concept that stays with me almost all my waking moments.
(en)Visionography was embraced by many people, but it had its adventures too, as there were also those who tried to “poach” it. Unfortunately, some people think that whatever is available on the Internet or whatever ideas you share with them personally, they can just misappropriate, wrap up in a slightly different shell (i.e change the name slightly, translate it into a fancy language as Greek and then back to English to make it more difficult to trace) and present it as their own concept. What the guy who did that forgot was that I speak Greek and I know that “Orama” in Greek means Vision in English. True story. And the photographer in question was supposedly a friend at the time. I’ve seen this kind of things happening with different ideas I published, and unfortunately, it has happened with (en)Visionography more than once. It’s not the time to elaborate on this now, but if you’re interested to learn more about it, I’ve published a blog post about it some time ago that had gone quite viral: Inspiring from other photographers in the age of the Internet. How far can we go?
So since (en)Visionography had such a rich and tumultuous life, I think this is a good moment to make an extensive blog post about what (en)Visionography is, how I created this concept, what its goals and characteristics are and how it can inspire others to create photography that comes from their own vision and inner self.
With this article, I am answering to the many requests I received asking me to put everything in a more concise form, as a first impression of what (en)Visionography is, and, even if this is by no means a short or bullet-point-style article where you get your answers by reading the paragraph titles – actually you need to grab a cup of coffee and relax because you’ll have to do quite a bit of reading, I hope that what I write here will help those who need more insight into what (en)Visionography is, the information they are looking for, and together with the information, the inspiration they need for their work.
Of course, this is not going to be the last time I am talking about (en)Visionography and if you want to hear more about it and about black and white fine in photography or architectural photography all you have to do is subscribe to my website so you can receive my articles and free tutorials the moment they are created, together with other interesting offers like early access and discounts for my workshops or other photography products.
Before getting into more detail, if you want to join our (en)Visionography community on Facebook, with more than 15 k members, we would be happy to welcome you, your work and your creative self. You can find it at this link or by clicking on the image below and you’ll find there a lot of great work and inspiration, as well as a platform where you can share your own work and get exposure.
WHAT IS (en)VISIONOGRAPHY
(en)Visionography is a new way of seeing photography.
(en)Visionography is the new photography of the digital age, the photography that arises from the artist’s vision and inner self.
(en)Visionography is an alternative to traditional photography, an evolution of fine art photography in the digital era. It is the photography we can create in the digital era when we have more freedom than in traditional photography to express our vision.
In the digital era, in the era of technology, we have the assistance of advanced cameras that do not even compare to those we were using only two decades ago when traditional analog photography was still prevalent, and we have the assistance of powerful software that can completely transform an image to suit our vision.
These tools give the photographer the freedom of a real artist, the freedom a painter or a sculptor has to conceive his work starting from an abstract idea or concept that can be anything his fantasy imagines, and to be able to realize it in reality.
This newly found freedom of creation makes you independent of your subject and independent of objective reality.
The freedom to not need to rely exclusively on capturing the real world to make an image but to be able to recreate the world according to your vision and inner self is what sets (en)Visionography apart from traditional photography.
Ultimately (en)Visionography means TOTAL ARTISTIC FREEDOM.
By having so many new tools at our disposition in the digital era, we have practically liberated ourselves as photographers and we have become ARTISTS.
This is why we can shift the focus in our work from the subject we are photographing to our own selves, our vision, and our life experiences.
This is what creates authentic fine art photography. This is what art is made of and what gives birth to (en)Visionography.
Read this article About Creating Art and Fine Art Photography for a more comprehensive view of this topic.
(en)Visionography is the photography that is born from inside the artist and not from the subject he is photographing. It is the kind of photography that gives the artist the power to express himself like never before. It is the photography that breaks all the rules of “correct” or conventional photography and aims to express ideas and feelings in order to create EMOTION in the viewer.
When you rely on yourself and your experiences to create, then you have much more power to reach other people and for them to relate to your work. This happens because what you feel will be contained and expressed in the work you create and it will be understood not only literally but also at a subconscious level by the viewer looking at your work. It is the same process that happens when experiencing an art object, only that in this case it takes place with photographs.
What I do in my work is to use photography as a tool to create (en)Visionography.
Photography becomes a tool in the service of creation and is not necessarily an end goal as it is considered in conventional photography.
When we can transcend the real world, expressed by the object or the scene we are photographing, and we can use it to express our own ideas and feelings, then we realize that we have a freedom that was never possible if we used photography in a conventional way.
In (en)Visionography we do not record a scene, we do not even interpret the scene or subject, but we use a scene or subject as a tool to express our vision, to create art.
It is a counterintuitive process and it may lead in the opposite direction than traditional photography, but I believe it is a more natural process for an artist because artists need to express their inner world and this is why they feel the need to create.
When an artist photographer uses photography to express his vision instead of merely showing the world, this photographer can be called an (en)Visionographer.
This is my credo and this is what I consider myself to be.
WHAT CHANGED IN PHOTOGRAPHY
IN THE DIGITAL ERA
What changed in photography in the digital era, which makes it so different from traditional analog photography?
What made photography transform so dramatically in a couple of decades after functioning more or less according to the same rules for almost two centuries?
Photography in the traditional sense of the word is almost completely different from the photography we can create in the digital era. .We can almost say that there are not many other elements they have in common except for the fact that they both deal with light and shadow.
The difference between conventional and digital photography is so important that they could bear different names and could be considered as two different disciplines.
The first change photography had to undergo the moment it transited from analog to digital, was the replacement of the base used for capturing the image: instead of a film sensitive to light, the new cameras are equipped with an electronic sensor, still sensitive to light but in a different way and with different results.
The second fundamental aspect that changed is the tools we use to develop the RAW image in the digital era (the correspondent of developing the film in the analog era) in order to create the final photograph. In this case, we switched from using manual methods and chemical solutions to develop the film to using electronic means (software) to do the same thing but in a totally different way.
These two changes are so important that the process a photograph goes through before it reaches the final image is an entirely different one in the digital era and needs an entirely new way of approach and realization.
Therefore a new name is needed in order to differentiate the two. What the software introduces in photography is much greater freedom of expression, since now there are practically no limits to how extensively one can transform an image from the point of view of light and volume shaping. This freedom leads to vision having a much greater role in the process of creation of photographs in the digital era.
In a way, we can say that vision and software have become more important in the digital era than the reality we capture in the camera.
REMOVING THE CREATIVE LIMITATIONS
The most important is that we have much more freedom now than we had when working with film cameras and when developing the photographs in the traditional darkroom. Freedom means vision, it means what we imagine can be more easily put in practice, so we can more easily realize the images our imagination creates.
Photography nowadays can be more about who we are and what we envision than about what we see.
We are slowly becoming like painters, building our frames the way we imagine, not necessarily the way they appear in the outside world.
I don’t think anyone can contest these differences in the two manners of doing photography: the analog and the digital. I am not even saying that one is better and the other worse, but only that there are significant differences. And this cannot be contested.
Then why be nostalgic and remain stuck to an anachronic way of seeing an art and a technique that has changed so radically as photography has, and insist to see the new digital photography the same way as we were seeing the old analog photography and forcefully apply the same rules and principles to new realities? This would mean we do not want to see and accept that the world is changing and we would refuse to use the new possibilities only because they are different than the old ones.
In my opinion, this approach would be a huge limitation for an artist. An artist always has to be in the vanguard of the way society thinks and not to stick to old concepts and approaches only because “old is better” or for some other reason with not much bearing in reality.
We, as artists, need to accept progress and change, we need to love it and embrace it if we want to be true artists. This is our duty and responsibility as being at the forefront of society bringing into the present a glance over the future and over the unknown.
Above is a parallel between an analog photograph taken in 2003 in Paris, when I was still shooting film, and a digital image taken in 2012 in Patras and processed with my processing method, Photography Drawing.
In other words, this is a comparison between creating a photograph relying on the light we can capture in the scene, thus being dependent on this light, in the case of working with film, and creating a photograph by transforming light and shadows in such a way as to embody our personal artistic vision in a digital photograph.
In the latter case, we do not depend on the light conditions in the scene and what they allow us to capture but only on our vision about the scene we see and interpret.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND (en)VISIONOGRAPHY
The two radical changes I am mentioning above thoroughly transformed the way we create photography nowadays, in the digital era, even if not many truly realize it.
The process of creating images by using a camera and software and not a camera and film that is developed afterward changed photography and transformed its essence.
In a matter of only a few years, photography evolved from using light as the principal ingredient in creating images to using vision as the principal ingredient in doing so.
Etymologically, “photography” comes from the Greek word “φωτογραφία” which was created from the words φως (light) + γράφω (write), therefore photography is the way light writes on film creating the image, the way the photographer “writes with light”.
In the digital era, even if the light is still what “writes” on the sensor creating an image in a literal sense, the final image can be so much more than just that, it can be so deeply transformed comparing to the initial image, in a much greater measure than this could be done in the analog era.
In the digital era, “vision” replaces “light” in writing, or rather in re-writing the image so it reaches a stage where it matches the idea the photographer started with, his VISION.
The final image can now come much closer to what the artist ENVISIONS.
Therefore, in contemporary photography, (en)Visionography is a more suited name for creating photographs than the name “photography”.
To come back to the Greek etymology, if we want to extrapolate, we can now say that (en)Visionography = (en) + Vision + γράφω (write), meaning (en)Visionography is the photography where the artist “writes with Vision” instead of “writing with light”.
THE MEANING OF THE PREFIX “(en)”
What is the role of the “(en)” in “(en)Visionography”?
Some have asked what the role of “(en)” in (en)Visionography is, so let me explain.
There is a subtle difference between “Vision” and “(en)Vision” that has to do with the depth where the two emerge from.
You can think about “Vision” as the creative idea in a final form, an idea that will give birth to an object of art. However, before reaching the final form this idea started to take shape even deeper in the imagination of the author and the moment the idea starts taking shape is the moment when the artist starts “envisioning”, or in other words “(en)Visioning”.
I consider this deeper initial moment as being even more important than the moment when the vision is complete since this moment is closer to the inner self of the artist. This is why I give more importance to envisioning when creating photography as an art form.
We can say that (en)Visionography goes even deeper inside of us, in our personal interior world, in our personal reality and representation of the world, to explore and create an idea, thus the product of (en)Visioning, the creation that comes out of it, is truer to our artistic self and personal reality than something that would come from only “Visioning”.
This approach is subtle and it may not be easily understood from the start, but if you see it like this, the difference in nuance is clear.
(en)Visionography goes deeper in ourselves than for instance “Visionography” would, thus we can say (en)Visionography was there before “Visionography”, and this is explained by the word itself if we look at it.
The prefix “en” in English means “within” and what I meant when I added this prefix to “Visionography” (this is how this notion was born when I was trying to find a word to express this concept and what I do in photography, which was something different than the conventional photography), was to go even deeper inside myself to find a way of expressing my personal vision and representation of the world.
When I am “(en)Visioning” I reach deeper in myself in search for a way of expression and the vision that is born there, the “(en)Vision”, is the essence of my personal artistic self and the source that feeds my personal artistic style, making it unique and authentic.
Even if I am talking about my artistic experience here, I know I speak for many. I speak for all the (en)Visionographers in the world, either they know they are (en)Visionographers and call themselves such, or they will discover it in the future. I hope the fact that I am writing about this will help others reach that level of (en)Visioning too and feel the magic of touching their real selves through photography.
ENLIGHTENMENT THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY
– Finding your path through photography –
(EN)VISIONOGRAPHY IS MORE THAN PHOTOGRAPHY – IT IS A LIFE JOURNEY AND A PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY
My (en)Visionography mantra is “create more than photography”.
You can see this everywhere as my logo: “(en)Visionography – Create more than photography.”
What I mean by that is that my end goal with creating photography is not the photograph itself but what it represents: a personal quest for truth and beauty, for essence and enlightenment, and the hope that the emotion the photograph triggers in others will help them in their own quest for truth and beauty, for essence and enlightenment.
Creating (en)Visionography means more than creating photography. Its end goal is to learn to know ourselves.
By turning inside-wards to find inspiration and to find a vision for our photography work, we will learn to understand better who we are. When that happens our photography work becomes authentic, as it becomes a mirror of our unique personal world.
If you are interested to study more about how to access your inner world, it would be interesting to mention that many Eastern philosophies of Asia like Buddhism, Taoism (Daoism) or Hindu philosophy are elaborating at large about this journey towards your interior world and how this relates to the exterior world. I will not get too much into detail about these systems of thinking and interpreting the world, so it doesn’t become too complicated but trust me, there is an immense richness of ideas and concepts that can inspire you if you study them, so I warmly recommend deepening this study. Maybe I’ll get back to this in another article if you’d like to know more.
“Knowing others is wisdom; Knowing the self is enlightenment.”
– Lao Tzu – Ancient Chinese philosopher
Understanding how this innermost world works and how to make the journey to reach it is something I consider very useful to study in order to understand the process of creation in fine art photography and in what I call (en)Visionography.
In addition, studying these Eastern philosophies, at least in principle, no need to become an expert in Buddhism or Taoism, can help you understand the essence of the world and how everything is connected to everything. It helps you understand that life is much larger than what we see at the first glance and what we experience every day, but there is always a hidden world and a hidden meaning we can find, just like in photography we can express a hidden reality – our vision – by reinterpreting the world we photograph through our images.
The visible part of life is like documentary photography. It is clear and it manifests itself in a strong and energetic way. You cannot miss it and it can be understood if observing actions and situations that are obvious.
The hidden or invisible part of life is what happens within and it is what I associate with (en)Visionography. This world is not clearly visible but it exists inside each one of us and we can all find it if we look for it. But to find it we will need to be open and willing to accept the unknown and to accept to be insecure and unsure.
When you reach the essence, you lose your certainty but you find the freedom to go in whichever direction you want. This can happen both on a spiritual level, by being open to making your individual journey as an artist and as a human being towards discovering yourself, and it can happen to the same degree in your artistic work, by discovering your true vision and putting it into reality through your creations.
For me, trying to reach the essence of who I am as a human being was and still is a tremendous inspiration for my photography. I could say that my photography documents my journey towards the core of what I am as a sentient and sensitive being.
My photography is my autobiography.
What I am saying here may seem complicated and difficult to realize if we look for simple answers and if we expect immediate results. But there is not such a thing as simple answers in life or art. If you really allow yourself to think about these things and if you allow yourself to travel towards the inside of your conscience, mind, and soul, you will discover that there is an immense richness there where you can draw inspiration from for your photography.
I am warmly encouraging you to not think that what I’m saying here is too abstract or too difficult to achieve, but for you to try it for yourself. I can bring as proof the experience of my many students who, during our work together, had revelations that started from their photography. I am not talking about revelations in the sense of some miracle, but about the kind of revelation when, through art, you discover who you really are and how you can convey that into your photography.
I could call this kind of personal revelation – ENLIGHTENMENT THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY.
For me, there is nothing more precious than this kind of enlightenment for my art and for who I am as a photographer and artist.
(en)Visionography is not only a photography style, but it is a way to discover yourself as a human being with feelings, thoughts, and vision. It is the courage to open your eyes to see what is there and then take it, mold it and put it at the core of your photography. This is when anybody seeing your work will be able to recognize YOU in the images you create because they will be able to see your soul. When you yourself put your soul in the art to create, then everybody will see it and this is when a work of art is born.
So, dare to look inside yourself and take what you find there and make it photography.
This is when you will create (en)Visionography.
WHAT IS AN (en)VISIONOGRAPHER
If an artist uses photography to express his vision instead of just showing how the world is then this photographer can be called an (en)Visionographer. This is what I consider myself to be.
The photographer who creates in this manner is creating (en)Visionography and not only photography in the common sense of the word. He or she becomes less and less dependent on the camera or on the reality he sees in front of him to create his images, his art. Eventually, he only depends, when creating his (en)Visionography, on the representation he gives to the scene in front of him and he is only guided by his imagination and creative skills. Read this article From Art to photography and Why to get more insight into these ideas.
I am an (en)Visionographer myself and I find that this term is much more suited for what I do than the term photographer because it describes more accurately the process I am going through when creating, the principles of what I do and the way I am using the tools I have at my disposition when transforming my vision into an image.
The result of the process I and other (en)Visionographers are going through when creating, the result of (en)Visionography, is a fusion of reality and imagination, where the image starts by being a blank white board where I design and build my photograph by using from reality only those elements that help me convey my vision and the idea I want to present in the final image.
HOW TO CREATE (en)VISIONOGRAPHY
(en)Visionography is a spherical concept that speaks about the whole process I go through when creating. It is the way I get from nothing to something meaningful, to something that will express me as a person and artist and will present my vision about the world. It is the manner I take elements from the world and use them as a basis for my creations, the way I transform these elements according to how they make me feel and I give them back to the world in a different and unique form, in the form of my vision.
This process usually starts with a thought, an idea, an impression or a feeling that triggers every step I will make to transform it into an image that (re)presents it. The thought leads to finding a subject or scene that is suited for expressing my vision that I then capture in the camera. From the moment of capturing to the final result, the image will go through different phases of transformation in order to finally match my inner world, to become a visual representation of it.
This process is more of a need than a conscious decision and leads me to create the photographs I create. Making art releases my emotional and intellectual tensions and it gives an answer to my existentialist quests.
This is why I create (en)Visionography.
At its inception, art is a “selfish” act. The initial need to start making art is a very personal, thus “selfish” act, in the sense that we have the need to do it for no one else than for ourselves, we do not try to please anyone else than ourselves when doing it and we do it because we have to fulfill a personal need.
But if we make art in a sincere and honest way, art will serve others too. The moment we feel the need to share our art, to let others into our world and to share what we found with them, that moment is when we become selfless as we offer something we discovered to others too, to help them in their process of personal evolution and self-discovery.
This way, art becomes both selfish and selfless and the deeper we feel it, the more we want to offer it to others too, the selfless it becomes.
Art is a “selfish selfless” act.
(en)Visionography is not only photography but it is much more than that. It is not only photography because it is not only based on a camera and a sensitive base for capturing the image, (film/sensor). It relies even more on transforming the image that was captured in the camera so it becomes something else, namely the idea the artist started from. That transformation would be impossible without the second tool we use in digital photography – the processing software.
(en)Visionography is the way one can transform his vision into an image by using a camera and processing software.
HOW I CREATE MY (en)VISIONOGRAPHY
I do not take anything for granted: color, shape, volumes, light, reality.
They are all there to serve me as tools to create something new, they are just a basis, an outline, a sketch on which I will draw my own world.
The color is there to be transformed in black, white and the gray shades that unite them.
The shapes and volumes are there to be transformed and adapted to my idea of perfection.
The light is there to sketch my idea on paper.
I do use light in (en)Visionography, just like in I do in photography, but I do not depend on the light as in the case of traditional photography,
I create my own light instead and I use it exactly where and how I need it in order for the image I am creating to resemble not the reality I see in front of me which I captured in the camera, but to resemble myself and how I feel about this reality.
This is what I do to create (en)Visionography.
The process I go through in my mental artistic creation and then in editing my images are the ones you can see above in the “before/after & in-between” processing steps, in the (en)Visionography Phases of creating my image :
Ode to Black | Black Hope I – Self Black
Leading image of the series ODE TO BLACK | BLACK HOPE – multiple international awards at IPA & PX3 2013, ND Awards 2014
1st, 2nd, 3rd Prize and many other distinctions
If you are reading this article, you probably already know my work but if you don’t, you can click on the image below to go to one of my (en)Visionography galleries and see what I mean in practice with all the things I’ve said here in this article. My work is the result of my beliefs and of my experiences, and the shape it takes comes right from inside of who I am as an artist and it expresses my vision of the world.
I hope this article was inspiring and it gave some food for thought to those interested in exploring creativity in photography and in finding a new way to express themselves that is closer to what they are intrinsically, as artists and as human beings as well. I believe fine art photography and (en)Visionography are born from the essence of who we are as individuals and from our experiences and interpretation of this world, and I believe that photography is a wonderful tool to express that inner world we have that is so personal and difficult to express with other conventional communication tools. I believe (en)Visionography is an excellent communication tool for the artist to express his or her essence and artistic self and to touch other people’s lives.
I’m curious to hear what you think and how you see creation and creativity in photography so please don’t hesitate to get back to me in the comments with your thoughts. And if you enjoyed this article and think it can be inspiring for others, please don’t hesitate to share it. I’m happy to share (en)Visionography with everyone and I hope it will help them find their artistic freedom is the same way it helped me.