Inspiration and Opportunity

It can sometimes be hard to find inspiration to get out and take photos. It can be even harder to find the opportunity. I thought I would talk about a few things that help inspire and motivate me.

Be Interested

I’ve often heard the quote “If you want to take better photographs, stand in front of more interesting things.” It’s easy to misunderstand that statement. You may read that and think “Ok, so what do people think is interesting?” I don’t think that’s what this is talking about at all. One should read that and ask themselves, “What do I find interesting?” It’s far too easy to be caught up in being concerned with what other people are interested in.

The more you focus on things that truly interest you, the more YOU will come out in the photos. The more you can open your mind to and be interested in, the more options you have for photographic subjects.

I love so many different styles of photography, and I find inspiration in the different aspects of each style. The internet is full of people sharing their work and their own perspective on the world. I’ve been inspired by looking at the works of numerous photographers and artists.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Photography That Inspires You

When looking for inspiration, don’t feel that you have to constantly be looking at what other photographers are doing. Take inspiration from books, music, or paintings. For instance, Mark Rothko is an artist that deeply intrigues me. I love how he saw color, and I would love to do some photography that reflects that.

Music can really create an atmosphere. If you let it move you, it can put you in a mood to take a certain style of photo. Same goes for books. Whatever you may find yourself reading, whether it’s a created world or taking you back to a place in time, (or the future) it might trigger something in you that inspires a style of photography. It can really be anything. Just remember to be open to these things that can bring on inspiration.

Embrace The Weather

Weather probably has the largest impact on how you feel about getting out and what photos you take. A bright sunny day is the most successful in getting people out of hibernation, crawling out of those dark dens and becoming active. When it’s raining, or really cold, it’s much less appealing and feels like it restricts our opportunities to shoot. However, these different conditions play a drastic roll in making or breaking a great photograph. Many of my photographs just wouldn’t be the same if it had been a beautiful sunny day.

Experiment

Sometimes the weather can just be too much. Last week here in Canada, it was -35° C. Any attempt at embracing that will only result in hypothermia. So maybe try some things indoors. Try out some still life. Take advantage of sunlight streaming in through windows (if there happens to be a sun in that temperature). Maybe set up a sheet and experiment with flash. There’s also places you could go and shoot indoors, such as a station or a public building. Just because you feel stuck inside doesn’t mean the camera has to stay on the shelf.

Have A Camera With You Always

This is a big one for me. It’s easy to forget and run out the door to work without one. However it can really pay off to chuck it in your lunch or jacket pocket. Depending on what part of the city I’m working in, it now gives me the opportunity to take a quick walk at lunch time, or even after I’ve wrapped up work for the day.

Plan A Day Trip

Planning a daytrip isn’t always the most feasible option, but it doesn’t have to be extreme. A daytrip can be planned in advance, helping you to get that opportunity. I’m extremely fortunate to live where I do, being four hours from the Canadian Rockies, but it doesn’t have to be as grand as that. Maybe a neighboring town as an interesting downtown section. While it may not have skyscrapers, it could have some more mundane things that are beautiful in their own way. A daytrip is a great way to change the scenery around you if you’re feeling a bit stale in you general areas. Being in an unfamiliar setting can perhaps let you see something interesting and inspire you to look for them once you’re back home. Daytrips and traveling have always been an excellent occasion for me to shoot and find inspiration in unfamiliar ground.

Trying New Gear

We all know how getting a new camera can make such a difference in your photography. With a great camera comes great photos. All you need to do is get your hands on that camera you’ve been eyeing, and everything will change. Inspiration will come flooding in, the spirit of Bresson will incarnate you, and you’ll be able to shoot all the time right? WRONG.

They call it GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) for a reason. The allure to the wide variety of gear we have access to is so strong. There are so many options available to us it’s an amazing thing! But it can also be a deadly, depressing trap. As much as I encourage trying new cameras and goodies, don’t expect it to magically make you a better photographer.

On the other hand, getting the right camera for you can help things click into place. For example, when I got my minolta X-700 after shooting the Olympus omG for over a year, it really did help me. The Olympus was great, but it’s partially broken – not allowing me to shoot in full manual, and the aperature doesn’t stop down past f5.6. Acquiring the X-700 changed all that. Has it helped me understand photography more and inspire me to shoot? Sure! Did it make me a better photographer and take better pictures? Nope. While it changed my creative process, it didn’t change my eye. While a new camera may not make you better, trying one you’ve never shot before with new quirks and challenges can help spark some ideas!

You Don’t Have To Constantly Be Inspired

If you’re feeling stressed that you may be hitting a dry spell on inspiration, don’t worry about it. Inspiration comes and goes, as does motivation and opportunity. Don’t feel guilty by not getting out that evening or that you just didn’t feel inspired on that walk you took. There’s nothing wrong with you. If anything, embrace the down time. Read a book, watch some videos, or indulge in other hobbies.

Having other hobbies or passions that can give your mind a break from photography is a good thing. So often, I’ve been reading a book, envisioning the scenario of which I’m reading, when suddenly it sparks an idea of a style of photo I’d like to try.

So after all I’ve said about trying to stay motivated and inspired, don’t sweat it. Just stay curious, stay interested in new things and keep an open mind. It will come. Inspiration isn’t exactly a bottle of potion you keep on the shelf in order to top yourself up when you’re running low. All we can do is our best and be ready for it when it comes.

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