I never use any visual aids of any kind. My photographic experience, at any location, begins when I set up the camera. For most photographers, it seems, the process ends at this point. I may be under the dark cloth for one or two minutes or twenty. But my images are conceived, gestate and are born on the groundglass, and only on the groundglass. Once my head comes out from under that cloth the act of composition has ended for that particular image.
Originally Posted by Loose Gravel
To quote one of the most masterful photographic composers ever:
"Although I view things on the ground glass as if they were abstractions, I am always drawn first to something very recognizable and specific before I set up my camera. It may be an object or the spaces between objects, but as soon as I start looking on the ground glass, the scene before me is transformed. Now the looking becomes a new adventure. The subject matter that drew me in is no longer of primary importance as I am making discoveries of visual relationships that I would not otherwise have made."
--Paula Chamlee, 9/29/1991
To me the only purpose of a subject is to catch my eye enough to convince me that I need to set up the camera and begin looking. The photograph I come away with, if I come away with anything, never has anything to do with whatever caught my eye in the first place. And the operative word here is 'never'.