In a comment to the previous post, a reader said, “I think previsualization is a redundant word….visualization more than fulfills the thought.” I agree. Ansel called it just “visualization”, and that ought to be good enough, right?
Still, I keep using the redundant form. I do it consciously, in spite of an admittedly prissy attitude I have towards tautological constructions – wooden logs, Jewish rabbis, free gifts, and (a triple, or at least two and a half) general consenses of opinion. I have two reasons.
The first is bowing to convention to avoid confusion. Everybody I know calls it previsualization. I don’t know about other parts of the country, but on the central coast of California, if you say previsualization, you communicate not only Ansel’s definition of visualization, but also a whole host of connotations: a certain view of the craft of photography, a reverence for a long tradition, and a broad image-making ethos, that, like pornography, I’d be hard-pressed to define, but I sure know when I see it.
The second, less important, reason is respect for by one of the great photographic thinkers, Minor White, who coined and promoted the word.
Now that I’m stuck with the word, I think there’s a way to turn it into a benefit. Here’s how: when we talk about previsualization, we’re talking about visualization before something, in this case the instant of exposure. The prefix emphasizes that there’s a specific instant that separates the visualization that we’re discussing from any other visualization that contributes to the final image. Thus, “I’ll use a Wratten 15 (G) filter to make the sky this shade of gray,” is previsualization, and, “Those clouds are printing a little flat; I’ll dodge the sky during the main exposure and burn it back in with a number three and a half filter,” isn’t previsualization, although it is visualization.