I have to admit I procrastinated a little over writing this blog, I was stumped as to what my subject should be, and without that I couldn’t begin, searching for inspiration I headed over to Google. Then it dawned on me – inspiration – that’s it, perfect, and I was off.
All artists need inspiration, where it comes from is difficult to say and there’s no one guaranteed method of producing it. Sometimes you just need to let your mind wander for a short while, or see things differently, so I’ve put together a list that I hope will help everyone, myself included, when we’re lacking that mystical power.
Now, I’m a travel photographer so this list is slightly biased towards that, but for sure it can be relevant to all photographers.
So with out further ado.
1. Read A Book
Any book. It doesn¥t have to have anything to do with photography, just pick one from your bookshelf or even a library (yes, they do still exist) and just read, its an exercise that will get the brain cells thinking outside of your normal life.’
2. Watch A Film
Books are great to get your imagination working, but films have the huge advantage of being visual, even if you never plan to shoot a second of video you can still learn plenty about composition from the cinema greats.
3. Visit A Flea Market Or Boot Fair
You never know what you’re going to find at places like this, but for certain they’ll be some interesting shapes to shoot.
4. Become A Tourist For The Day
Do touristy things in your own town, take a trip on the open top bus, wander around your town with fresh eyes, look up, wander down strange narrow streets, even get lost if you can. This is why I love travel photography so much particularly the festivals as there is always something unique to shoot.
5. Visit An Exhibition
No matter where you live there’s bound to be a photography exhibition of some sort nearby, if not create one. In fact I’m off to see one later today.
6. Search Google Images Or Photo Libraries
Similar to visiting an exhibition except you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Find out what others are shooting and how. My current favorite is Reportage by Getty
7. Wake Up Early
Where you live probably looks very different at 6 in the morning, so wake up and explore this new place. Also by making the effort to get up early you’ll feel more eager to shoot as getting up at ridiculous o’clock was the hard part, well it is for me.
8. Read A Blog
Don’t know which one, here’s another quick list:
Digtal Photography School
Catchy Colors Photoblog
Daily Dose of Imagery
Photoshop User TV
Nature Photographers Of The Pacific Northwest
Stuck In Customs
Chase Jarvis Blog
Beyond the Obvious
Photo Business News & Forum
… and there’s plenty more.
9. Buy A Photography Book
Makes sense, no?
10. Set Yourself A Challenging Assignment
For example, shoot only red things for the day or only shoot from very low down to include your subjects feet. Its a great way to starting thinking about composition, by limiting yourself like this you¥ll be looking for new ways to shoot familiar subjects.
11. Make Friends In The Photography World
With the tidal wave of social media that¥s now upon us, its never been easier to meet like minded folk. These friendships can easily progress from the Internet to actually meeting up and who knows where it will go from there. Talking with other photographers is bound to shape your own photography. There¥s also Scott Kelby’s Worldwide photo walk which is a great way to meet others and is well worth checking out.
12. Shoot Some Self Portraits
It could be as simple as a hand holding your camera and shooting your reflection in a mirror or it could be as complex as a full studio shot with big umbrellas either way its probably something you don’t shoot very often and something you can play with for weeks until you get an image that you can be really proud of.
13. Check Out The Big Winners
The winners of big photo contests, such as the Pictures of the Year, Travel photographer of the year, World press photo, Photo district news. There’s bound to be plenty to inspire. Which ever area of photography interests you there’s bound to be a competition for it and the winning images should be somewhere online.
14. Play With Settings
Use slow shutter speeds and slow sync flash, set your aperture to f22 and shoot into the sun, use your highest ISO, just have a play and see what happens – perhaps you think you know, if so prove it. You may well be surprised.
15. Take A Photography Class
This doesn’t have to be as time consuming as you might think. Creative live run free online photography courses with an incredible line up of teachers, you can even ask questions during the class and yes it really is free.
16. Ignore The Silly Criticism
Constructive criticism can really benefit the serious photographer, but it’s not always great for your inspiration, particularly the silly criticism. At the end of the day if you¥re shooting for yourself and your happy with what you’re producing then that’s great. However if you’re shooting for a client and your client isn’t happy with your work – well that’s something very different.
17. Shoot Something Random
The inside of your freezer, a radiator, your attic, the inside of your car, the dust on the top of your wardrobe, something you’d never normally think about taking a photo of. Spend some time on it playing with composition and light. Shoot five different, but thought out, compositions. This is harder than it sounds.
I bet you haven’t done this in a while, but just sit down with a pen and a blank piece of paper just scribble away absent-minded, move the pen around, make shapes, but don’t think about it too much. This technique is often used by other visual artists, but I don’t see why it can’t aid the photographer.
19. Print Your Pictures
Not many people do this nowadays, myself included, which is a real shame. But being able to touch an image gives it a new dimension, I’m sure but there’s probably some complex science behind all this, but all I know is to see my best work professionally printed on lustre paper I want to go out and shoot some more.
20. [fill in the blank with your own]
Now number 20 is up to you guys, leave your own ideas for what inspires you in the comments section below, there’s no prizes (unless Seshu wants to jump in here with something ;) ) it’s just sharing ideas, which is what the Internet is so great for.