More on chasing images versus letting them come to you.

Back when I started to share my Iceland images, I shared a story about my chasing an image which led to my missing it altogether.  Remember, I had to go back the next day?

Today I want to continue that discussion.  Below is Peter Cox’s image of Blahylur.  When we arrived, Peter was encouraging our group to make a pretty steep and long climb up a slope to the location where he made this image.  WOW, what a marvelous image it is. 


You’re probably wondering what I did, right?  Well, I looked at the steep slope and long climb and said, no way!   Actually, what was really going on in my mind was the previous experience, chasing an image rather than allowing one to come to me.  With this in mind, I stood at the edge of this crater looking for another image but was uninspired.  Let me be very clear, my being uninspired does not mean there was not an image to be made. It simply means that for me, I was not feeling inspired. This feeling is about me at that moment and has nothing to do with the photographer who might be standing right next to me. They very well might be finding lots of inspiration. As I stood and pondered the situation, I remembered feeling excited about something I saw on the way up to the edge of the crater.  I asked a few of the group (who chose not to make the climb) if they wanted to head back down the road with me to see what I was interested in looking at again.  And this is where I shot the image below that received the most feedback of all of the images I’ve posted from Iceland.  I find that interesting and further testimony about this idea of letting images come to you.

As I’ve pondered this idea of chasing versus letting images come to you, I’ve decided both ideas have merit.  I think Peter was pretty much chasing an image he had heard about and he had great success.  I on the other hand was doing a better job of listening to inspiration this time and came away with one of my personal favorites from the trip.  So the bottom line is, whichever situation you find yourself in next time, just be mindful of where your head is and don’t let other possibilities pass you by.


Don’t forget, it is easy to share this post on twitter.  Simply click anywhere in the white click to tweet box below!  Thanks!

[Tweet “Chasing images versus letting them come to you.”]

This entry was posted in B&W, Iceland, Inspiration and tagged , , .


  1. Nicki September 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Great advice, John. I find that the “chasing” produces about as many results as the aimless wandering (which is 99% of the time 0). I think that sometimes we get so bent on producing what’s in our minds eye, that what’s in front of us isn’t seen.
    Beautiful image, it must have been a magical place.

  2. marty golin September 20, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    To the degree that the fact that you put yourself in Iceland, with some expectation(s) of images, you were “chasing” whatever images came from the trip. Even if a location is completely new, if one has seen images from the location, one will have some expectation of what one will find. This degree of chasing is true for all of us when we go… anyplace… with the intent to photograph.

    But chasing/schmasing… all of that is sophistry & secondary to the experience of wandering around (aimlessly or not) any location. Even if one intends to photograph an icon or whatever pre-visualized image they have in mind, once they get there, they may not find “that” image, but something else (as you say) to inspire them. However If one’s goal is merely to “see what there is to see,” I believe one is more open to images coming to them.

    The images that really “come” to us are those that, during whatever activity we’re engaged in is NOT photography, the images introduce themselves/jump out/whisper to us anyway. That’s when the part of the brain/spirit that sees even when we’re not looking comes into play.

    • john8276 September 21, 2013 at 1:50 am #

      More wisdom Marty, thank you.

  3. bob towery September 22, 2013 at 5:11 am #

    Take a picture, or make an image? That seems to be what is on the table here. We can all follow a guide to a place, and take the same picture. Or, wander about waiting for inspiration, luck, and experience to “make an image” of our own. You are very good at that, which this image attests to.

  4. Katz Lee Finch November 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    We do both, we are driven to chase images and (hopefully) we are open to their “choosing” us. We have all done photography long enough to know that we also “get lucky” along the way. I think that we “get lucky” and images choose us because we all probably have a different radar than non-photographers plus, we are putting ourselves out there all of the time, well, a lot anyway. We sense where to go and are naturally visually distracted thus our curiosity, being in a perpetual state of awe and wonder visually take us places that others don’t go. They can’t, it’s not in their make up. I also think that sometimes, we as photographers, naturally fall along a different line of either being engineering oriented or artistically inclined. We all take a different approach with using our tool to frame our perception that is in our hands. A more artistic interpretation of the subject matter vs. a more engineered capture of the subject.

    • john8276 November 11, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

      Henri Cartier-Bresson says.. “A photograph is neither taken nor seized by force. It offers itself up”.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *