A photo friend on Google+ used this term yesterday: Previsualization. It probably means the formation of an image in your mind, already knowing what is "in there" and can be brought out in the photo by whatever means. You know... technical solutions for aesthetic problems, that sort of thing. ;)
I've recently shifted my approach to publishing photos: I still have my "monthly albums" in my old PicasaWeb account, but lately, I do not update them as regularly as I used to anymore. Instead, I collect photos that fit sets, themes, portfolios... whatever you want to call it.
One of these sets is the Huckinger Seen (lakes) in Austria which used to be one of my favorite places back in Europe for walks with a small dog, and with or without a camera. I recently "rediscovered" the image below, re-edited and added it to the set. I also submitted it to Seen.By where it was accepted.
Falling Slowly // Autumn, Huckinger See near Hofstadt/Tarsdorf, Austria. October 2009.
What's so interesting for me is that is took me such a long time to "finalize" the image and end up with an edit that I am content with. I know very well why I raised the camera to make that photo. The photo is all about that yellow-orange glow of the autumn leaves and their reflection on the water, and how that little island stood in the moor waters of the lake in solitude and silence. But back then, I didn't manage to bring out that moment in my edit (as usual, I provide the unedited image for comparison).
I want to put two things on record here:
First, it requires certain skills in post-processing to be able to turn the previsualisation into an image that matches your idea and vision. Skills that have to be acquired over time. I'm a Lightroom user for more than 4 years now, and the way I approach an edit today is very different from the approach I took in 2007. I work a lot more with local adjustments and color manipulations, as well as graduated filters and also vignetting (a technique that I frowned upon for quite a long time, I know). I know where to go and what to tweak, what's possible and what isn't, and what pitfalls and obstacles might be on the way, and how to avoid them. I think I'm a slow learner in that regard, but a thorough one.
Second, my edits benefit from time and distance. Previsualization or not - I find that very often, I end up with rather bland and boring edits when I come home with a fresh batch of images and begin working on them immediately. Maybe the memory of the scene what it actually was like is too fresh and limits the amount of editing that I allow myself in post processing, I don't know. When I look at these initial edits a day or two later, I often think: "That's not it. That's not the picture I wanted to make." Letting some days pass before beginning to edit the photos gives me the distance and freedom to bring out the actual quality of the scene as I previsualized it.
I know, that maybe sounds contradictory. But when I looked at the unedited photo, I remembered and knew exactly where I wanted to take it immediately (and two years later, I have acquired the post processing skills to get me there in a relatively short time). Don't ask me how that is possible, but it works for me - at least most of the time. I think what attracted my eye once to make me raise the camera and make an exposure, the perception, the "vision" just stayed with me.
Photography can be weird, fascinating mind-stuff. :D