Why It’s Important To Remember Your Dreams & How To Do It

Do you remember your dreams?

If so, are you actively working with them?


Throughout history, countless cultures have developed practices to cultivate their dreams and help people increase awareness, connect and clarify thoughts and feelings, recognize opportunities and issues, solve problems, optimize performance, and many other things. Never mind predicting the future, though that can happen too. As an artist, dreams help me imagine images, both realistic and surreal. As a writer, dreams help me write – letters, technical articles, aesthetic statements, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. As a musician, dreams help me imagine new melodies, rhythms, and even sounds. Still, the biggest reason to remember your dreams is they’re fascinating. Dreams feel more real and are usually more entertaining, emotional, and insightful than movies or virtual reality.


All people (and many animals) dream. Scientists haven’t figured out all the reasons why dreams are so important for our mental and physical health. But they know we spend just under 10% of our lives dreaming. (That’s approximately 750 hours a year.) On average, we dream 2 hours a night in REM bursts lasting 10 minutes early in the night and gradually extending to as long as an hour.


It’s common not to remember dreams. But there are many things you can do to improve your recall. The number one thing I’ve done to boost my recall is write down my dreams, not just first thing when I wake up, not just in the morning, but also when I wake up in the middle of the night. I do this using Notes on my iPhone; it’s always with me. During the pandemic, I’ve been more consistent than ever, and over 80% of the time I remember at least one dream. I found that when I traveled, I often let my routine slip, and my recall went down. When I reestablished this daily ritual, my recall went back up. Extending my dream practices from notation to journalling reflections and creating things in response to them has made dreams and my life much richer. I wish this for you too.


Many books have been written on dreams. I offer the following list of resources as a way to reinvigorate the journey you started long ago. These resources are not the classic academic books of great historians, anthropologists, scientists, and psychologists. I’ve chosen them because as well as being grounded in this long tradition, they’re also approachable and practical.

Sweet dreams!

Unlock The Secrets Of Your Dreams – Stephen Aizenstat – Free eBook

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Photoshop Has 5 Instant AI Cutouts – Including The Hidden One.

“See the 5 different algorithms Photoshop uses to make cutouts and remove backgrounds.”

Use The 8 Classic Shots Of Photo Essays To Tell Better Stories

Every picture tells a story. Combine pictures to form an essay, and your storytelling options multiply. This is one way to tell a more complete story, add depth, complexity, counterpoint, nuance, show change over time, and so much more. A photo essay transcends a single lucky shot. It demonstrates commitment, focus, versatility, and skills of another order. 

Essays have definite structures, with a clear beginning, middle, and end – often with standard components that flesh out and advance a story in critical ways. Journalists excel at this type of storytelling. Sometimes they even use cinematic conventions, components, and strategies. Moviemakers storyboard their creations before filming commences. Cinematographers and film editors ultimately develop their own styles with how they handle these devices, and they can also become a part of your style.

Identifying the necessary components of an essay is the first step. Once you know the types of images you need to tell your story, you’ll know what to shoot while you’re on location and maybe even when you need to be there. If you don’t identify these elements beforehand and make sure you come back with each of them, you may find you lack critical pieces. There will be holes in your story. And you may have to return to finish it – if you can. 

Even if your work isn’t narrative, learning these skills will help you create more images, be more versatile, make stronger comparisons and contrasts, and create more effective continuity and transitions between images.

These are the classic elements used to structure a photo essay presented in order of appearance.

1 Introduction
2 Set the Stage
3 Identify the Main Character
4 Significant Detail
5 Human Interest
6 Decisive Moment
7 Outcome
8 Conclusion 

You could say all other images included in an essay are just variations of these few types of images. I’d be surprised if exceptions couldn’t be found, but they would be exceptions. These are worth committing to memory and ultimately making second nature. If you do, you’ll become a more capable and versatile photographer.

What is the function of each image type? 

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Hey, Look! – An Evening Of Photographic Inspiration With Jay Maisel

Join us for a special evening as Santa Fe Workshops’ Creativity Continues online with two master photographers, Jay Maisel in conversation with John Paul Caponigro.

In this special hour dedicated to savoring the sensual act of seeing, Jay will present a selection of his images and thoughts, followed by lively question and answer sessions, first with John Paul, then with special guests, and finally you. Bring your questions and something to take notes with; the insights will flow fast.

Jay Maisel is hailed as one of the most gifted photographers of all time. A hero and a teacher, countless photographers feel he changed and still changes the ways they see. He’s a living legend whose work is studied around the world and whose presentations garner standing ovations every time he takes the stage.


Event Postponed Until 2023

Wednesday, October 26 from 6-7 MT / 8-9:30 EST

Register now for this free special event here!

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Get Jay Maisel’s inspiring biweekly collections here.

3 Great Books On Photographic Contact Sheets

You can learn a lot about looking by looking at photographers’ contact sheets. (Today, it’s digital collections.) It’s the closest any of us will get to see how another person goes through searching for an image. Warm-ups, near misses, fine-tuning compositions, and the decision of when to stop or move on to something someplace else entirely; they’re all significant and informative. It’s rare to be able to see photographers other than ourselves at work like this.

You can enjoy the search for great images by great photographers in these three books.
(Click on the images for links to the books.) You can even purchase select Magnum Contact Sheets for display.

View my digital contact sheets here.

Learn more with my Visual Storytelling resources.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Use The Power Of Storyboarding To Structure Your Photographic Explorations

The first time I went to Namibia I used this storyboard to find more ideas and structure my thinking.

Find out how it worked out at the end of this article.


Movies are rarely shot without storyboarding them. Consider storyboarding your still photography projects too.

A storyboard is a hand-drawn map or timeline that identifies the various types of images needed to advance a story and the transitions between them. They identify the beginning, middle, and end of a story and the shots needed to move from one to the other. Storyboards create a guiding structure or framework that can help focus and strengthen your work. 

You can use storyboards to structure your thinking when you’re developing still photography projects. Storyboards can help you do many different things, including finding out what your story is, generating ideas, identifying the shots you need, creating stronger relationships between separate images, and telling your story in more compelling ways.

Creating a storyboard doesn’t take long. You can create a simple storyboard in as few as two sketches – before and after or beginning and end. Then you can continue adding more frames to develop your story further.

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Seven Tips for Making Basic Selections in Photoshop

“In this video, you’ll learn seven helpful tips, tricks, and shortcuts for making basic selections in Photoshop.”

How To Break The Rules & Unlock New Creative Possibilities

Stuck? Experiment! How? Try this.

List all of the rules of photography. Then break them. 

Doing this will offer two profound benefits. 

One, you'll develop a better understanding of and versatility with the medium.

Two, you’ll deepen your understanding of your personal goals and voice (vision and style).

If an experiment fails to produce interesting results, you’ll have proven confirmation that what you’re doing is working for you. If an experiment succeeds by producing results that are exciting to you, you’ll develop a new relationship with the medium and maybe even find a personal breakthrough. 

Often you’ll need to try an experiment more than once. Try each experiment long enough to see whether they’re working or not; many of these things won’t feel natural at first.

I recommend making this kind of experimentation a lifelong practice. No matter how accomplished you are, discoveries await you.

Here’s a list to get you started …

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How To Create And Use Hue Masks In Photoshop

“Learn what are Hue Masks in Photoshop, and how can you use them for more control while color grading! In this lesson, we will start by understanding how Hue and Saturation mask work.”

Reversal / Do The Opposite – It’s The Most Powerful Way To Innovate

Day / Night

Looking for something new? Do the opposite of what you normally do. Use the power of reversal; it’s a powerful strategy used by countless creatives. 

The principle of reversal is similar to the photographers’ 180-degree rule. You shoot in one direction. You’re so focused on one thing you don’t see all the other possibilities around you. You force yourself also to look 180 degrees in the opposite direction. You discover new vistas. It’s a good habit. Extend this. Identify the ways of seeing you typically engage. Now list other ways of looking and try them. You’ll quickly discover new ways of seeing that will reenergize you and make your work more vital.

Our minds are conditioned to think in terms of opposites, so ideas for reversal come easily to us.

On – Off

Dark – Light

Day – Night

Vertical – Horizontal

Up – Down

In – Out

Active – Passive

Moving – Still

Dynamic – Stable

Whole – Incomplete

Repaired – Broken 

Full – Empty

Some – None

Many – One

Altered – Unaltered


Full / Empty

Try putting a prefix of un or anti on any word (even if the results are not in the dictionary), and you’ll instantly find a different perspective. Then reverse that perspective. Inverting twice doesn’t always return you to the same point. New things can be gained in translation.

The possibilities are so limitless they can be overwhelming.

Break the challenge down into useful chunks. 

Physical Processes

You can make reversals in your physical process. 

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