One Word Inspiration

Have you seen the “one word” charms on bracelets worn by celebrities and are so popular just about anywhere in the world? It is a circular “charm” stamped with a single word that is meant to describe the wearer’s intent. Not their name or title, but a term that defines their life purpose or goals or personality. Examples of words include passion, education, grateful, peace, family, growth, faith, love, grace, kind, happiness, compassion, and so many more.

Two Medicine Lake Storm with Rainbow Glacier National Park

While the jewelry may be a fad, this is not entirely new thinking for photographers. About a year ago I made a list of words that I wanted to convey in my photography. These words became my mantra every time I went out to shoot. If the scene in front of me did not meet the standard of my lofty words I did not take the photo. And if I took the photo and later decided it did not convey the intentions of my selected words I did not share the photo. In a way they describe what I like as well as what I want my name to be associated with. As a “grand landscape” photographer, the words I selected were inspiration, reverence, awe, place, and color. The words running through my mind when out in nature to photograph are like a checklist before I take the photo – does this scene reflect my reverence for the beauty of the earth and leave me with a sense of awe, does it inspire my creative soul, does it convey a sense of place, does the color set the mood? I am focused on those words. The words define my goal in what I want the world to see in my photographs.

Sunrise from Apgar Village at Lake McDonald Glacier National Park Montana USA

This short list of words has served two functions. For one, the words are meant to encompass my vision and help me to hone in on what I wanted to convey in an image. They helped me to focus on just what interested me most. Volumes have been written lately on finding one’s vision. And there are many interpretations of the word – is it is look, a technique, a style? To me it is what (subject) you love to shoot, and the post-processing style that you have adopted and consistently put to use. These choices are fundamentally based on my life experiences that caused me to see the world as I do.

Secondly, by focusing my attention on my chosen words, I have also simplified the creative process. It simplified my selection of where I wanted to photograph, what I wanted to photograph, and even how I wanted to photograph. It has simplified my post processing. Rather than try out the myriad of “presets” for Adobe Lightroom, I have developed my own preset that I tweak as needed on a case by case basis. At the core was determining what I liked to shoot and loved to share to simplify the process.

Having tried out my system for a year now I can safely say that describing my intentions in a few words has made a difference. Hopefully you will be inspired to select your words and live by them.

Happy New Year!

Colonial Williamsburg Grand Illumination Virginia

Deb Snelson is a full-time landscape photographer residing in Virginia. To see more of Deb’s images visit her website at

, , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply