Previsualization and chimping
Ansel Adams made what he considered to be his first visualized negative (Monolith) in 1927. He began publicizing the concept, formulating the Zone System with Fred Archer in 1939 and 1940 and creating techniques for achieving what he called visualization. The Negative was published in 1948. Minor White’s Zone System Manual was published in 1968.
There seems to be minimal overlap between the seminal writings on previsualization and the possibility of instant photography with cameras capable of making images on regular film.
The first Polaroid Land camera was offered for sale in 1948. Third parties began to make camera backs for normal film cameras that could accept the new material. Polaroid introduced sheet film and holders for standard 4×5 and 8×10 cameras. I’m not sure when all this happened (a reader comments below that it was during or before the mid-70s), but I remember using a Polaroid back for a Hasselblad in the early 80’s, 4×5 sheet film in the middle 80’s, and 8×10 sheet film in the early 90’s. In all cases, I used the Polaroid materials to check how well my previsualization of the image squared with how the camera actually saw the scene. The technique was especially useful in strobe-lit studio photography, where the modeling lights didn’t provide an accurate indication of what would happen when the strobes went off. I didn’t think of this myself; I had the sense that it was a common way of doing studio photography.
With Polaroid captures as a previsualization check, some photographers may have been confused. To count as previsualization, which exposure did the visualization have to precede: the Polaroid one, or the final image on regular film? I say “may have” because I am unaware of Minor White or any of the first generation previsualizers addressing this point.
With the demise of Polaroid, the above confusion, or possible confusion, could be just an academic fine point, but digital photography has introduced a similar issue. The situation with digital is slightly different, in that there is no clear pre-exposure distinction between photographs made to check visualization and those intended for the ages.
The question remains: have you previsualized the final exposure if you took a dozen preliminary ones, and used the camera display to refine your vision? I sure don’t know, but I think that this high-tech feedback loop is probably not what Ansel Adams and Minor White had in mind. I would be pleased if anyone can enlighten me on this point.