This Van Gogh painting sold for 54 million!

Photography is art. Most people relate art to famous painters. So today, we are going to take a look at Van Gogh and see what things we can learn from his paintings. If he can sell his paintings for 54million dollars, then there must be something we can learn from this.

1. “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” Vincent Van Gogh.

One thing we often hear as instructors of photography is: I can’t do certain things.

We have been programmed to think that there are just certain things we can not do. And Van Gogh, when he painted realized many times there was things he couldn’t do, but, he tried to figure out a way to do that what he couldn’t do.

For example: If you say you can’t do good portraits, then that is a learning issue. All photographers, if they want to be a good portrait photographer CAN learn how to do good portraits.

Find a course on how to do good portraits. Take the time to practice the things you learn from posing people. What are the camera settings best for portraits.

It doesn’t matter what your hangup is, if you want to do it, find a way to do it. Think of the possibilities to increase your productivity in photography.

2. “Seek only light and freedom and do not immerse yourself too deeply in the worldly mire.” Vincent Van Gogh


This talks about how much we need to detach ourselves from normal life, and the endless tasks of our lives in order to create. Being Creative connects us to the world in a completely different way to how we normally live. 

In ‘normal’ life, we are living on the surface. We are doing a lot, we are being busy, we are jumping from task to task. We are responding. And that’s all totally necessary to take care of our lives. 

But it is not the only way to live. It’s the least enriching, and least satisfying way to live. 

And it’s definitely not the mode to be in when you’re being creative. 

silhouette of trees and mountain under blue starry sky
Photo by Sindre Strøm on

When you are out shooting, when you are creating something, it has to come from a different part of you. Because taking photos is the work of the soul, not the mind.

It’s diving deep into yourself and using everything you are, everything that you’ve experienced, known and loved, and bringing that out in your images. 

And once you start thinking about all the other mundane things you need to do, you will lose focus on what makes you great in photography.

There is a wonderful course (that is really inexpensive) that teaches you how to “See a Photo” or how to “Feel a photo”. Check this out if you want to be serious about this.

The title of the course: LEARN HOW TO “SEE” A PHOTO – THEN CREATE YOUR MASTERPIECE. Link to it:

3. “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh 

Self portrait of Van Gogh
Photo by Guillaume Issaly on Unsplash – Self portrait

If you start with this idea of not being able to do something,  you won’t be able to do it. You have to overcome that mind of yours that loves to remind you of your inadequacies.

But it is also to say that all people who create, have fear. You are not alone when your mind tells you you’re not much of a photographer, or you might as well as give up because your photos are boring.

Your job is to ignore whatever rubbish your mind is saying about your photography, as Van Gogh says, and silence your mind by doing

The way to overcome this is to just get started. Just go out and shoot. Don’t worry if it’s going to come out well or not. Don’t pre-analyze what you may or may not achieve or what you are or are not.

4. “Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”Vincent Van Gogh

Boats by the sea shore by Van Gogh
Photo by Lanny Cottrell – editor of 123photogo

The worst thing that happens to people who want to be creative, is that they get accustomed to their own environment that they fail to see the natural beauty around them.

It is vitally important to know that we all have areas in our lives that are beautiful around us, and maybe it just takes a special sunset or sunrise, or a rainy day or something to really accentuate it’s beauty. We need to visualize the things around us as art.

As Van Gogh says, we need to also be aware of even the stars in the sky, or look around at night time to see a new beauty.

Night photo of a walk through the park. Photo by Lanny Cottrell – editor of 123photogo

5. “Painting is a faith, and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion.” Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of his garden flowers.
Flower garden portrait – by Lanny Cottrell – editor of 123photogo

In many ways, I think learning photography now is harder than in the past. And that’s not because there are so many photographers, or because of smartphones, etc. Instead, it’s because of the amount of information out there, and the multitude of opinions. 

The internet has given us so much incredible access to information and to communities and groups where we can share our photos. But often, instead of it being an empowering experience, it can become disheartening. You can get into the habit of judging your photos on how many ‘likes’ they receive.

123Photogo has a Facebook website that you, too, can share your photos:

6. “It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.” Vincent Van Gogh

Photo by Lanny Cottrell – editor of 123photogo

This idea goes back again to the idea that you need to know how to “feel” when you look at a possible photo. Learning to “SEE” a photo is one of the most important things you can do to become a great photographer.

Once again, an invitation to check out the course:

You might say – but of course, I can see what’s around me! But you would be wrong. There is so much visual information around us, that our brain blocks out most of what is there. What we end up seeing is a mere fraction (less than one percent) of what is going on around us.

What is even more surreal is that because of how our brains like to make our lives as easy and simple as possible and to create habits in how we think and do things, we often see the same things over and over. We don’t notice the different things in our environment.

If you think about a street you’ve maybe walked down hundreds of times and all of sudden you have the urge to look up to the tops of the buildings. And it’s like – wow, I don’t remember seeing that.

This happens all the time with everything in our world. It’s time to just look around your environment in the world you live.

7. “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” Vincent Van Gogh

amazing painting by Van Gogh of the area around him.
A broken down fence at the top of the mountains – photo by Lanny Cottrell – editor of 123photogo.

I don’t just mean nature in a traditional sense – the beautiful flowers, people, or landscapes. It’s when we bring the idea of beauty into our photography that we see that we can capture what is beautiful to us, in any guise. 

For me, it’s often the interplay of cities and nature. The smash of orange fruit on the tarmac. The gorgeous colors of the sunrise above a housing complex.  Or the dramatic, metallic grey of a sky before a storm. 

I would actually expand this idea to say there is beauty in all things, you just need to develop your ability to see and find it all around you. 

people on street of chinatown
Photo by Alexis Ricardo Alaurin on


A painter like Van Gogh obviously learned to feel, to see the environment around him. He learned that there are many things around his daily life that is beautiful. You just need to try to do the same thing. Look for the beauty around you.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.