My 19-year stint in the ad agency business was not without its share of sabbaticals. I worked for seven different agencies during that period. Sometimes I would change jobs within a few months. Other times it would take longer.
Doug Fisher: Crazy Like A Fox
Doug Fisher is a photographer. He is half native Canadian. Chippewa I believe, and one of the most amazing people I ever called a friend. His energy level was off the charts, which made him well suited for all kinds of difficult to shoot things like sports, car racing and heavy-duty industrial interiors which he did a lot of.
In one of my in-between agency periods, Doug generously took me on as an assistant. And a big part of my learning about photography came from his constant narrative about everything he was doing and why he was doing it to get the shots that he wanted.
And one of the key things he taught me, I have come to believe, has real application in all areas of business.
Capturing The Totality Of Your Vision
One day, Doug and his assistant (me) were photographing a furniture factory downtown. Taking a break, we were sitting on a shaded bench directly across from the building. Doug had a camera with him. He always did. Across the street, one of the workers in the factory we were shooting was sitting on the sill of a large window with a bottle of water.
I saw that as a beautiful shot that could add some dimension to the shoot Doug was doing. So he quickly shot it. Then he told me, yeah, that was a nice shot and we can probably use it, but that there was a real photograph on the way. Then he pointed to his right, and down the street, we saw an extremely attractive woman walking toward the building.
He shot a sequence of images of the woman entering the frame on the right and continuing to walk past the window. A heartbeat after the guy in the window noticed the woman, his reaction was palpable. And also captured forever by Doug. One of the best urban life photos I had seen up to that point.
What Doug explained to me the is that every great shot is capturing a moment of some kind. And that moment is something he called the ‘totality of your vision”.
You look around. You see something you want to photograph and in your mind’s eye, you take the picture. Then you figure out how to create whatever you saw in your mind. Doug saw the guy in the window and he saw the woman walking down the street. And he saw what that could become in terms of a great photograph.
Doug saw the totality of the picture, and all he had to do was wait to take it.
The Wider Application of Doug’s Idea
The ‘totality of your vision’ concept isn’t just a photography thing. It’s actually a good technique for anyone facing a challenge in any area of business.
You could call it visualizing, but I believe it’s actually higher up the actualization chain than that. Maybe you could call it idealizing.
Imagining the best possible outcome, then taking that vision apart to see what it is needed to make it happen.
What did you see? Who do you see helping you get there? What do they have to do? What you have to do? How long could it take? How much could it cost? How valuable a vision is it in the first place?
The totality you are trying to achieve is the best possible result. And this breakdown exercise is simply a tool that helps you realize that vision.
No matter what are doing in life it’s always good to understand what defines the totality of your vision.
Where exactly you want to go and what it will take to get there.
Since I had it explained to me I have used this methodology in my writing, my photography and my design. It’s not something you can learn overnight. It took Doug a few years to figure it out and it to me a few years to do the same in different media.
Truth be told, this is quite a commonly used technique in professional sports, especially team sports like football and soccer, where the variables are quite linear and the obstructions well known.
In business, it’s a little different, because it’s not linear and the obstructions can surprise you and set you back.
But one thing is certain. By clearly identifying the totality of your vision, you have the best roadmap possible for achieving it.