How/where do you draw inspiration?
I went for a little hike in a new area today. I have never been there before and came across some really interesting things while walking. I didn't have my camera with me, just a leisurely walk. I kept my eye out as if I had my camera. I was able to notice other things around me too because I wasn't fiddling with my gear. Sort of photographing with my mind, pre-visualizing. Now, after that one walk, I think I have a new project to work on for the next few months.
It made me think too, about how others find inspiration. How about you? What do you do, or have you done, that inspires you to continue photographing the world around you?
For me, it comes from anywhere and anything: a line in a book, a dream, my children's actions, long-forgotten memories that resurface, light falling just so, other photographs, an interesting texture, a scene from a movie.......
"So I am turning over a new leaf but the page is stuck". Diane Arbus
While I find plenty of inspiration in the world around me I think it's more important to simply make sure you're out there working. If you are things will happen for you.
Brett Weston put it best, (paraphrasing) Art is damn hard work. You drag yourself out of bed and get out there, then you get pumped up as you're working.
I believe if you're always waiting for your muse you're spending to much time waiting....
Going out with just one lens and camera seems to focus my vision and present a challenge when I'm in a funk though.
Last edited by Shawn Dougherty; 10-30-2007 at 08:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Up in Copake and out in Tucson I do a fair amount of bicycling. I ride very light, so I certainly never take a camera with me. However, as you did with your walk, I often note things along the way that I'd like to shoot.
So many times, after a ride and a clean up, I'll take a drive along the same route (or part of it) and take some pics. Of course, I cannot control the light etc. so sometimes I come up empty - but often times I do find a shot that I'd never have found without first having ridden more slowly by on the bike.
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hows about walking around with the simplest camera/lens combo that you are comfortable with and not fiddling with it
I walk down streets I've never been before with a compact 35mm camera. Over the summer I rode my bike around the city (26 miles/44km in one day) and found all kinds of places I wanted to go to again. Since then I've been exploring all kinds of new places in the city.
I also like looking at old photos from the 20th century (first 5~6 decades) for inspiration.
Those who know, shoot film
I've been doing a lot of photos with geometrical forms, criss-crossing lines, interlocked areas, etc etc, and I've been wondering for a while where it came from. I'm very excited by a lot of Modernist art, so it shows in photos like this:
(Yeah, it's not terrible, but it's just to illustrate the point.)
But I think I've found a more general pattern the other day: recently, I did a language lessons exchange with a student (my French for her Mandarin), and I spent quite some time trying to draw characters properly.
Lo and behold, there's a photo I took some time ago that has a very similar shape to the character for "woman" :
It wasn't a conscious decision, I just took the photo because it felt intuitively interesting, but I think it nevertheless tapped into a memory of patterns.
I've had a few other accidental inspirations, like this one:
This one, on the other hand, was the first time I was applying consciously a visual pattern on a subject:
This is another one where the pattern was applied consciously, but I was barely aware of what exactly it reminded me of when I took it:
So that's the inspiration for the how: the way I take pictures these days comes in large part from the models I have memorized.
It's imitation in the traditional sense, like Samuel Johnson writing "The Vanity of Human Wishes" on the basis of a satire by Juvénal. It's the way most people have been doing art for centuries; the fascination for the original and unheard-of (or at least the illusion we entertain about originality) is a more recent development.
As to the inspiration for the content or mood, I guess there's something similar happening: some feeling from a previous experience resurfaces before a scene, and it makes you push the buttons.
So far, that's how it works for me.
Using film since before it was hip.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal
, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
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My Mamiya 6MF rangefinder and 3 lenses are always with me in an Orion AW hip bag. It's in the car all the time with a small and lightweight benbo trakker monopod. The monopod works great as a walking stick on a hike and if I have time when I am out and about, I will nearly always crack off a few frames. I've missed too many opportunities to not have a camera around anymore. Inspiration for me comes form many things like music, quality of light, or that gut feeling you get when you know you have a cracking shot opportunity to exploit. Also many outdoor influences like wind, rain, fog, snow, are there to exploit, and you get to a point when you know what will work and what won't. That gut feel/sixth sense thing. Now I'm no expert by a long shot, but I'd rather have a camera and have a shot at something that presents itself, than get caught without one when the same scene comes to life. You typically never know when inspiration will hit, be ready!
driving around the state of texas.
Originally Posted by Derek Lofgreen