When you get beyond shutter speed, f-stop, ISO, and the other settings that distracts you from focusing on the photograph, there is a “next step” in all photographers' journeys.
Coming from one of my favorite YouTube channels, Nerdwriter1, this video sums up perfectly what “photographing with intention” means. Ansel Adams used the term “visualization” to describe his way of approaching a scene. It basically means to build up a vision of your photograph before you start capturing it. In this way, Adams knew what he was after and used the camera and his instinctive feeling of tonal balance to fulfill that vision.
Check out the video above on the subject, which hopefully can serve both as inspiration but also to broaden your horizon on how to think about photography or art in general. The video also delves into the “zone system,” which is a tool Adams developed along with his friend Fred R. Archer.
Obviously, “visualization” is not the only way to approach photography. Other photographers have other ways of expressing themselves, which are all equally interesting. Is “visualization” or "photographing with intention" something you are already familiar with or something you already use? I am interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.