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.


man person people emotions
Photo by Gratisography on

Photography is often considered an art. And there are many types of art in general as there is in Photography. And thinking of adding emotions to your photography can be a great new way to do photography.

Of course, not all viewers experience the same emotions in response to the same photos, so don’t feel pressure to convey specific feelings to everyone. Instead, use these tips, plus your personal emotions, to create powerful, one-of-a-kind images.

1- Identify your mood before taking pictures:

Whenever you head out with your camera, before you take a single shot, or even look for a shot, ask yourself: How am I feeling today? Then let that emotion guide your shooting, and channel it into your photos.

foggy lake photo
Photo by Gabriela Palai on

After all, it’s tough to infuse an image with an emotion that you aren’t feeling. If you’re over the moon with happiness, you’ll struggle to find sad or bleak compositions. And if you’re down in the dumps, creating awe-inspiring or uplifting images won’t be easy.

So start by identifying your emotions. Look for compositions that align with those feelings.

At the same time, it’s often worth rechecking your feelings periodically throughout your photoshoot. Depending on the view, the light, chance encounters, etc., emotions can change, and you don’t want to miss out on emotionally resonant shots because you’re searching for the wrong thing.

Make sense?

By the way, sometimes, your emotional state might simply be “bored” or “bleh.” That’s okay; it happens to the best of us. When I look back through my travel photos, I’ll notice a dip in quality, and it often corresponds to my feelings at the time. On days like these, you might consider leaving your camera behind, watching a movie, or doing something creative that doesn’t pressure you to take powerful, emotional shots.

And don’t worry. Your boredom will pass, and pretty soon you’ll feel excited about photography again!

woman jumping with umbrella against building


In wide, busy, expansive scenes, emotions often get lost. Yes, the emotion might be there, but the viewer will have a hard time noticing – the image may fall a bit flat, at least from an emotional point of view.

So if you’re looking to create emotional photography, consider simplifying the shot. Exclude elements from your frame. Choose a perspective that highlights a single area of interest, not the entire scene.

green wooden window on white concrete wall
Photo by Jeffrey Czum on


Faces are full of emotion. The eyes are the windows to the soul, after all, and often show anger, joy, sadness, love, and so much more.

positive elderly bearded male in elegant blazer
Photo by ArtHouse Studio on

Plus, faces can convey emotions through puffy eyes, tears, wrinkles, etc. So if you want feelings to really shine through, train your lens on people’s faces!

gorgeous young black woman with afro hair
Photo by murat esibatir on

A word of caution, however: Do not rush up with your lens, thrust it into a person’s field of view, and snap a shot, especially if they’re feeling emotional. Instead, be respectful. Whenever possible, ask permission, especially if you don’t know the person. (I often just raise my eyebrows while pointing at my camera, and it works great.)

By the way, if you want top-notch emotional portraits, make sure to think about the lighting. Learn about lighting patterns and how they affect the viewer, because it’s easy to convey different emotions simply by changing the light’s position relative to the subject.

A final piece of advice: Don’t encourage your subjects toward specific emotions. If they’re feeling sad, take a sad photo; if they’re feeling happy, take a happy photo; if they’re feeling tired, take a tired photo…You get the idea. Yes, it’s good to head into a scene with specific feelings in mind, but you must be adaptable, depending on the content of the scene.


When I tell people to stop shooting and put the camera away, I often get criticized, yet it’s an important part of photography – especially photography infused with feelings.

Setting down your camera gives you time to observe the world. Just look around and see what pulls at your consciousness. Ask yourself: What interests me? What draws me? What do I want to capture? What matters to me about this scene?

a man sitting outside of the famous petra
Photo by Alex Azabache on


Scenes look different on different days, and your feelings are different on different days, too.

Take advantage of that fact.

If you’re shooting a subject that you can return to, then do it. The street or beach or room or person will have a different feel on different days, especially if you’re photographing outdoors and the weather changes often.

water falls in the middle of the forest
Photo by Diego Madrigal on


Conveying emotion is a surefire way to create powerful images that connect with the viewer. Feelings will elevate your work and give it more punch.

close up of couple holding hands
Photo by Pixabay on

This amazing recipe book is available now. It is truly a break-through in eating, and enjoying it. Just go to this website for more information:


Most of today’s article is compliments of Peter West Carey, and DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY SCHOOL. A sincere thanks to this organization.