Whether you just started taking photos today or have been shooting for years, I want you to ask yourself one simple question:

Where are your photos coming from?

Yes, your camera. But why are you using that camera? Why are you looking for beautiful moments to capture? Let’s take a look at this highly interesting world behind your photos: your eye, heart, and soul. In order to unleash your full photography potential, you always need all 3. Why? Because they all shape the creative spirit of your photos and boost each other.

Midnight Cowboy by Marius Vieth on 500px.com

The most familiar and obvious element behind your photos is certainly the eye; it determines how you perceive the world around you on a visual level. How is the view through the windows of your soul? I’m slightly colorblind for instance. I have a red-green weakness, which slightly changes my view compared to most other people.

When you look at your laptop, phone, or tablet right now, what catches your eye? Colors, textures, structures, tiny or big objects, humans, animals, or even emptiness? Maybe your eyes love darkness or shiny bright days? Do you love to look at crowded scenes or rather deserted places? It could be anything.

Zig Zag (Amsterdam, 2016) by Marius Vieth on 500px.com

Even if you haven’t found something that catches your attention the most, you will be able to tell differences. Some things simply attract you more than others.

Pay attention to where your eyes wander every day. It’s so important to know this, because it can lead you to your very own creative oasis. If you are already naturally inclined to look for or at something, wouldn’t that automatically generate photo ideas? Use this natural attraction to avoid having to find something all the time. Your eyes have probably already developed certain interests that you could use for your photos.

Through a lot of practice and education, you will eventually learn to follow composition rules and purposely break them again, but never underestimate the power of your “natural composition.” Even if you frame photos “weirdly”, why is that bad? That’s simply your way of doing it and it makes you truly unique. While it may be rather subconscious at first, practice will turn it into your conscious unique way of taking photos.

Always be highly aware of what you expose your eyes to and where they lead you, because they are the windows of your soul.

Inside Out (Bangkok, 2015) by Marius Vieth on 500px.com

Consider your heart: the fuel and feelings in your photography. It’s the passion, desire, and motivation that keeps you going. It’s what fills your photos with true emotions. It’s the motor you definitely need to bring your visions to life. Otherwise, you’ll feel bad if your photos don’t work out the way you want—you’ll lose motivation after an “unsuccessful” photo walk, or you’ll end up in a rut that will eventually lead you to quitting photography. But with true emotions and fire in your heart, you never will.

As a photographer you are doing something beautiful. You are capturing life, you are showcasing the things that make human existence so amazing, you are making other people happy with your photos, and you are showing them how to see the sometimes hidden beauties and treasures of life.

MAXIMINIMAL by Marius Vieth on 500px.com

Be aware of the deep meaning and impact you as a photographer have. Your photos are always actions: they have an effect on your viewers and you can decide what that is.

Show people how beautiful life is, show them the dark side of it, remind them of the good, motivate them to help others, put a smile on their face with bizarre moments, or simply offer them insight into your eye, heart, and soul to broaden their personal horizon. As long as your photography has a positive effect, you are contributing something wonderful to the world!

Always make sure that you have enough fuel in terms of motivation, passion, and desire. Otherwise you won’t go out and take photos anymore. Once you are out shooting, don’t forget to take photos of what captures not only your eye, but especially your heart.

One Night In Amsterdam by Marius Vieth on 500px.com

While your eye revolves around the visual and the heart around the emotional part of your photography, the soul is simply you. It contains the beautiful and less beautiful things of you. It contains your dreams, wishes, love, and positivity; but also your anxieties, failures, negativity and concerns.

What’s important to realize is that it’s absolutely okay to have all of that. That’s what the human experience is about: embracing who you are and trying to see it all in a positive learning light. As a photographer you must have a deep love for life in your heart and soul. Otherwise, why would you capture the world around you for eternity? If you didn’t feel some form of love for something, you simply wouldn’t care to make an effort to take a photo.

Consider your soul, your absolute deepest source of inspiration. Deep down there are so many ideas for photos that can fill a lifetime. If you want to take photos with your unique signature, you have to tap into this infinite source of creativity. Every photo or photo project that originates from there will truly feel like your photography.

Muse (Bangkok, 2015) by Marius Vieth on 500px.com

You can use any part of your soul and let it flow into your photography. Capture your anxiety of people, your neurotic way of organizing things, or your favorite childhood place in your photos.

You are a giving person? Capture anything that shows exactly that, because your heart feels it and your soul embraces it. Maybe you love to smile and spread positivity? Make that part of your photography. Do you have certain dreams deep inside of you? Let them become the essence of your photos. Everything innate in you can flow into your photography!

Your eye, heart, and soul are deeply connected with one another. Imagine that your photography is a creative machine.

The soul is your gold mine of precious raw photo diamonds. Without motivation and deep emotions in your heart, they can’t be turned into photo diamonds though. They will simply lie deep down in your soul without ever being transformed from raw ideas to incredible photos. That’s why you need fire and feelings in your heart! It’s what keeps your creative machine running. Your eye will connect your inner world with the outer one. And through your natural and learned composition, you will turn these raw photo ideas from your soul into preciously cut photo diamonds: your photography.

I See You (Bangkok, 2015) by Marius Vieth on 500px.com

In order to take great photos, you always need positivity in your heart, to unleash your soul, and open your eyes to the creative universe within and around you! That’s why you should never forget:

Your most important gear is your eye, heart, and soul!