Before you seek some advice, random quotes or mundane deliberations on the source of inspiration from our everyday life, things that inspire us to keep shooting, answer this simple, but important question – how many times per day do we pull out our camera and practice taking images? OK, how about each week? If you answered less than 10, then you have a problem.
I use the word practice and not shoot because like every other forms of creative art, photography too requires practice. Come to think of it, in every walk of life be it law, medicine, architecture or simply taking images, do you suppose you can just get out of bed and hope to produce excellent results, without any practice? Sure, you may have heard about a few people who claim to do just that, but as much as we hate to admit it, most of us are just ‘average Joes’. Even if you have a natural talent and an eye for beauty, you still need to hone, practice and refine your skills as a photographer. If all you need to do for inspiration is pick up the camera more often, why write a lengthy article then? Well, there is a bit more to it than that. Let us go over a few things that may inspire you to pick up the camera.
I look at photography as something gratifying rather then work, a way to express myself. I love using my camera to the point that I see it as an extension of myself, but more importantly, I also like the world around me and my camera is a way to connect with that world. It allows me to capture the world the way I see it and show it to everyone. And the best way to fall in love with the world around you is to travel. No wonder that travel, landscapes and people are some of my favorite subjects to shoot.
I know it is 2015 and it sounds kind of retro, but I have good reasons to believe that if you’re just about given up on photography, switching to a film camera is exactly the kind of spark you need to ignite your creative juices. For one, film is a lot more personal. I mean the whole process of loading the spools of film into your camera, exposing them, rewinding, development and printing; from A to Z you actually handle all aspects of photography personally. Remember, back in the old days when photographers were using wet plates and stuff they were literally developing the plates within minutes of shooting them. It was way too physical and that is where the emotional connection starts. With digital photography you no longer have that emotional connection with every shot that you take. You look through the viewfinder, shoot and immediately review what you’ve shot on the monitor. Photoshop and post-processing take it to another level, further cutting that ‘umbilical cord’.
Digital is simply not personal enough when you feel uninspired, film is. I don’t want you to completely dump all your gear and make the switch from digital, but find yourself a nice cheap camera with a few rolls of film and go out shooting.See how quickly that changes your perspective on photography. Try to develop those pictures yourself as well. If you’re not familiar with the process, there are plenty of tutorials and how tos on Youtube.
Watch How the Masters Do It.
Not the likeliest of places to look for inspiration, but for me personally, the scene in Schindler’s List where a little girl wearing a red coat walking through the streets of Cracow amidst the chaos around her, still is and will remain one of the most powerful examples of subtle color use in mostly black and white composition. If nothing else, it inspires me to shoot in black and white as well as shoot and post-process with subdued colors. Works of others can be a powerful source of inspiration, for composition, lighting, framing and pretty much everything else that remotely has to do with photography.
Change the Subject
If you are primarily a fashion or glamour photographer and lately your work has left you uninspired, try switching to landscape photography or vice versa. The idea here is to pick up something new from the style of shooting you are least familiar with, and bring that with you next time you’re shooting in your comfort zone. Same applies even if you don’t want to change your field. Say you’re interested in shooting people only, a new model that you’ve never worked with before can be a source of inspiration.
If all else fails, you can check out our Photography Projects to Stay Inspired Article which lists several creative ideas on how to ‘force’ yourself to create goals and timelines.