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16 August 2022

As soon as photographers start writing about their black-and-white ambitions (as two we regularly cite have recently done), the specter* of Ansel Adams rises up shaking its head vigorously as the writers discuss "pre-visualization."

There's no such thing as "pre-visualization." Just ask Ansel (or his specter).

In The Negative, the second book of the series he wrote on the subject of photography, Chapter One is titled Visualization and Image Values. It begins:

The concept of visualization set forth in this series represents a creative and subjective approach to photography. Visualization is a conscious process of projecting the final photographic image in the mind before taking the first steps in actually photographing the subject. Not only do we relate to the subject itself, but we become aware of its potential as an expressive image. I am convinced that the best photographers of all aesthetic persuasions "see" their final photograph in some way before it is completed, whether by conscious visualization or through some comparable intuitive experience.

No "pre-visualization" at all. Instead, visualization.

A peek at the word visualization in the old Merriam-Webster will explain why:

1. formation of mental visual images

The hunt through the same tome for pre-visualization (with or without the guilty hyphen) returns, "The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary."

It had better not be.

You can't pre-form a mental image. You can form a mental image, though. With any experience at all, it would be hard not to.

Now excuse us while we escort poor Ansel's shaken and stirred specter back to his resting place, reassuring him along the way we will remain here, standing on guard.

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