Pre-visualisation in photography

Pre-visualisation is a big word but it basically means seeing the image before you’ve even seen the image.

In Street photography you can often be bombarded with visual stimulus. So, to prevent being overwhelmed when presented with potential subjects, especially in places such as markets, it is a good idea to have in your mind the type of subject you are looking for.

On a recent trip into London I had planned on photographing around The Barbican. I particularly like the Brutalist style of architecture and it’s gritty concrete facades and dynamic shapes. So the obvious choice for me was to take a film camera loaded with black and white film to capture the tones and textures of the buildings.

I was however aware that the walk from Liverpool Street station to the Barbican was to take me through areas of contemporary steel and glass architecture. So, I also had it mind to capture some images using shop fronts and reflections in colour. So, with this in mind I also packed my little Sony RX100 camera.

Red is the colour.

The first thing that drew my eye was the advertising board inside this shopfront window. I wanted to capture someone in red in front and as luck would have it, this lady was some distance away. I just had to wait for her to position herself in front of the window. As often is the case, she was meandering around whilst talking on the phone. So it was just a case of waiting for her to arrive where I wanted her with the girl on the hoarding looking down on her.

Blue is the colour.

Whilst in the Barbican I saw this blue coloured vent tube and the fact that the distant windows were also of a blue tint. I could have just taken the shot without anyone but I had a visual idea that the image would look so much better with someone wearing blue also in the shot. It was a lucky day for me as I stood there for a while and then the lady in blue just came along to look at the sign and the image was made. I could have made the image without the person but that is an image that I could repeat on another day as the vent tube and windows are always there. It’s the human element in a matching colour that makes it unique.

So, instead of just wandering the streets snapping away at uninteresting street scenes without anything much happening try pre-visualising. Use the mind’s eye and form an idea of what it is you’re trying to achieve then look out for how those elements and wait for it all to come together.

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