Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Dr. Stephen R. Covey

“Vision is what you stand for and principle is how you go about it.” -Dr. Stephen R. Covey

The vision Dr. Covey is talking about in the quote above refers more to the future. Where do you see yourself going? What do you want to accomplish? What is your overall mission or goal? However, being a photographer I read “vision” as meaning my style or the way I see and convey the world I observe. In this regard, there have been volumes written and terabytes of video made around improving photographic vision.

From shutter speeds and apertures to the rule of thirds and post-processing techniques, many people have shared ideas around how to “improve” your photographic creativity. But are these the principles? Is this what Dr. Covey means?

The key to improvement is to align our values, goals, and behaviors with principles. Principles are natural laws. You can’t fake them. Principles govern. They are actual reality, the way things are (Covey). So, I would say that how you go about being creative has nothing to do with technique and everything to do with process.


Creativity is easy, it’s creation that’s tough! For me, the easy part is brainstorming. I get an overload of thoughts and ideas on a subject, but the real difficulty starts when the distillation process and organization begins...brass tacks. It’s tough to deliver. My Evernote account is full of brainstorming that only has a 10% chance of rain. So, how do we become less creative and more creator?

In my own work, I have found the creator principle to be this: before I can create something physically, I have to create it spiritually. What I mean to say is that before I can create something externally I must first create it internally. It’s about forethought and preparation. Now this might sound basic, principles often are, but I have found this vein of thinking governs all of my greatest photographic accomplishments.

It starts with research and conceptualizing, then moves into story boarding and shot lists, then onto packing lists and preparation. All in an attempt to turn my vision into something tangible. What I've found in the process is that when I follow this recipe of preparation I move farther away from creative regurgitation into creating something new and unique to me.