Beth Jennings – The Journey Captured » I capture the journey of people in their personal and professional lives. I teach amateur photographers how to capture their life in beautiful photos. Photography, Melbourne Photographer, Photography Workshops, dSLR Camera Workshops, Creative Camera Course, Photo Course Melbourne, Camera Class Melbourne

The value of your Visual Diary

I don’t know about you, but as I was growing up my mum always prided herself on being a great cook in our family. Our kitchen shelves were full of recipe books from everywhere, written by all kinds of chefs. Some were specialty books, like how to make salads, or breads, and others were more general themes offering delights for all parts of a meal.

Sitting alongside all the professionally written books was my mum’s own recipe book.  It was just a plain, lined notebook with a blue cover.  It was stuffed with recipe clippings from newspapers and weekend magazines, and filled with her own hand-written recipes.

I loved that book – it was full of all her unique blends, techniques and magic that she would have no chance of remembering if it wasn’t written down.  Any day, I’d rather have that book than ten of her bought ones because it represents her personal vision in the kitchen.

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Your Visual Diary

Your Visual Diary is exactly like my mum’s blue, hand-written recipe book full of clippings.  It’s your place to collect your ideas, make notations, stick in photos and develop your creative eye. There’s something cool that happens when you externalise stuff that’s rumbling around in your head with lots of other ideas and thoughts at the same time.  It becomes separate to you, and you can assess it more objectively, rather than subjectively, if it just stays in your head.

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As you’re building up ideas, start adding to your Visual Diary. Alongside each image that you put in there, answer these questions:


  • Why did you pick this particular photo?
  • What features do you like about it?
  • What do you think the photographer was trying to communicate in this photo?

…and then…


  • How do you think it was taken? (composition/angles)
  • Can you identify the light source(s)? (where the light is coming from and reflecting)
  • What camera settings do you think may have been used? (ISO, aperture, shutter speed)

If nothing else, if you pick out say, half a dozen photos a week to do this exercise with, you’ll find the left and right brain activities will kick into gear.

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If you’re undertaking my online creative camera course, Your Camera, Your World, at some stage you will have completed the lessons and started shooting the theme. Remembering that this course is a chance to practice your technicals and apply them to your creative ideas, you will be swinging between the left and right brained stuff. Some weeks, you might fly on the technicals, other weeks you might struggle.  All of that is normal, and totally OK. Be kind to yourself about that, and use your Visual Diary to make some summary notations on that theme:

  • What creative challenges did you have?
  • What technical challenges did you have?
  • What successes did you have?
  • If you shot this again, would you do it differently, and if so, how?

The more you use your Visual Diary, the more you’ll get out of it.

Have fun with it! It will become your best friend:)


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