Black and White Inspiration

Discussion in 'Photographic Aesthetics and Composition' started by Archimedes the Dog, May 15, 2014.

  1. Archimedes the Dog

    Archimedes the Dog Member

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    My black and white work is feeling a little monotonous in a different way, lately. I am looking for a high-volume source of inspirational work in black and white to get me out of my rut. Does anyone have suggestions? Contemporary/historic, pro/amateur, curated/free-for-all: any and all is fine by me. Thanks.
     
  2. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Subscribe, and browse through the Gallery. Lots of top notch B&W work.
     
  3. Archimedes the Dog

    Archimedes the Dog Member

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    Other than the requisite Flickr groups, of course.
     
  4. jp498

    jp498 Member

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  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    no idea what your style is or what you are "into"

    +1
     
  6. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    To find your way out of a rut, the Monthly Shooting Assignment or a print/postcard/blind exchange is a great, great way to start...
     
  7. Archimedes the Dog

    Archimedes the Dog Member

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    I am feeling stagnant and want something new, so my style is the problem, haha. I actually thought i had subscribed, so I need to figure out what happened with that.
     
  8. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Prove us wrong about arranged versus found...

    Arrange something that carries it off.

    As I've said, my arrangements always looked stilted. Maybe you can do better.
     
  9. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    If you only photo in daytime, start taking photos only at night time. It's a whole diffferent world. Meeting new challenges invigorates most people.


    Kent in SD
     
  10. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Wow, such good suggestions in only one page. I've been feeling stale and useless lately, too. These are a real help.
     
  11. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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  12. ~andi

    ~andi Member

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    Anything that forces you to deal with something different might help. Subject matter and/or gear department. If you are doing 35mm, get a 8x10 pinhole and make (palladium) contact prints. If you are an LF landscape shooter, pick up a 35mm and go to a zoo or the park.

    You say you are feeling stale and useless. I can only speak for myself, but when I am depressed or in a bad mood I don't produce anything worthwhile. I found the only way through this is to keep going...
     
  13. dorff

    dorff Member

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    For real writers that earn their living through writing, there is no such thing as writer's block. They start each day knowing they have to sit down at the keyboard and start typing, every morning regardless how they feel.

    If you feel blocked because of too much photography, the solution is to lay off the photography for a short break. Even a few days can do wonders.

    If you feel blocked because of too little, the solution is also simple: Start shooting more.

    If you are bored with what you photograph, figure out what you find interesting and challenging, and work on that. If it is your hobby, you can decide what, and how much of it, you photograph.

    Many people feel more driven when they have a clear project that they work on. PAD, PESO, monthly challenges etc. can and do help. Or you could define your own project. I think it must be meaningful, and hopefully lead somewhere.

    As for me, I do get bored sometimes, and then I try something new. I built my first 4x5 pinhole camera over the past two weeks, simply because I was a bit bored with the usual sharp, contrasty stuff. It always helps if one measures one's progress. Without progress, every endeavour is essentially a hamster running in its exercise wheel, and even exploration can become a bit stale.
     
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  15. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    Look at good art that isn't photographs - in person, not on the internet or even books, but in galleries and museums - painting, sculpture, abstract, representational, conceptual, landscape, portrait, the unfamiliar more than the familiar, and spend as much time - or more - with things you don't like or understand as with those that you do.

    Saturate yourself with it, 'til your eyes bleed.

    Then after a while, go out and start taking photographs again.
     
  16. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Go somewhere you are very uncomfortable with, and make photographs. Document what makes you uneasy.
     
  17. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Strangely, I find that I work best when I go for long walks every day, where I can fill my lungs with fresh air and appreciate the world around me, at a slow pace. Or to see what's ugly about the world works too. That fills me with inspiration. I don't know your life style, and what you do on a day-to-day basis, so maybe you're doing all this already.
    For my walks I always go out without a camera, unless it's purposely for photographing. It's kind of fun to 'see' things without having the ability to photograph it. Makes me hungry, and it makes me think more about subject matter than if I see it through the camera.

    I like the suggestions to do something outside the normal box. Go someplace you're not familiar with, photograph something that is outside your comfort zone.
     
  18. jerrybro

    jerrybro Subscriber

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    Shorpy.com. Look at the image sharing forum at the large format photography forum. Go back into your own archive and look at some work you haven't looked at in years.
     
  19. jerrybro

    jerrybro Subscriber

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    BTW. I found inspiration from Thomas's work helped me out of my funk/rut.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2014
  20. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Buy, borrow or make a pinhole camera. You won't have to think about lenses, focusing, etc. Find a location you have enjoyed photographing before and make some exposures. The resulting images might reveal something you never noticed before while looking through a lens. Beside being a fun way to photograph you might be inspired. If you use large format film with it consider contact printing and alternative processes.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    sometimes learning something new, can help
    or as pdeeh suggests immersing yourself with
    a variety of non-photographic artwork ...
    but not everyone is the same ...
    i like making photograms when im bored
    lumen-type ones on expired paper or film
    or cyanotypes, cheap mindless fun that
    eventually bleeds into other areas of your photographic life.

    its funny ( to me at least ) people who love landscapes and portraits and still lifes or whatever ...
    sometimes don't realize that making abstractions / photograms &c improves the way they do the other stuff ...
    because in the end its all just line and form ...

    good luck !
    john
     
  22. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

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    Better than looking at other people's work, have a long hard look at your own. Dissect the shots tht you are the most unhappy with and figure out why they don't work. Develop a strategy for overcoming those issues and shoot deliberately with your new strategy.
     
  23. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    This is SO true. I need to get back to doing occasional abstract-still-life-assemblage photos for exactly this reason; the first time I went out to find some stuff and assemble it into an image, the first thing I learned was that my sense of composition SUCKED. (The second thing was that hot glue doesn't adhere very well to dried palm fronds, but that may not be as universal a concern.)

    I think he works in d*g*t*l, but I've been impressed with much of Victor Schrager's work; he's basically a still-life guy (he came to my attention through a charmingly eccentric book called _The Compleat Squash_), but a lot of his oeuvre involves arrangements of colored blocks in a way that I guess is technically still life, but compositionally more about abstraction. No semiotic crutches to lean on there; it's got to be incredibly demanding to keep oneself inventive when doing work like that.

    Spending a day walking around with a sketchbook instead of a camera might be a salutary experience too. I've never done it and I'm not sure why.

    -NT
     
  24. Archimedes the Dog

    Archimedes the Dog Member

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    Thanks, folks, there are some excellent ideas in here. Many of them I have already been doing on my own.

    I do happen to know myself and what helps inspire my own creativity, and in particular I know that looking at a variety of other work helps to inspire my own. This is why I asked for links to inspirational work. I would like to refresh that particular request.
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    nadar, franz klein, prifti, olde karsh ( not in color ), manray, maholy nagy,
    el lissitzky, penn, avedon, rodchemko, kertesz
     
  26. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    I do black and white work myself. You can check it out in the link in my sig line.

    Jon