Every so often (and sometimes quite frequently), I get in a place where I don’t know what to do with my camera. I can’t find anything new. Every subject seems old and stale, and the words “I’ve taken a photo of that before” run through my mind. I’m looking for something different.
When that “nothing to do” day comes, make a list of all the places and things you can possibly think of. Where’s a good place to take photos downtown? When is the best time to go there? What might you find in that place? What style of photography (street, portrait, nature, etc) do you want to try out? Finding inspiration is easy if you expand your creativity’s borders and try something new.
Here is a list of some of the best things I find inspiration in.
- Magazines: You know those countless portraits for perfume and makeup ads, rescue shelters and fun vacations at the beach? The faces are smooth and engaging, the animals usually have heartbroken looks (you can’t help but feel sorry for the little puppy-dog), and the beach photos show you what it’s like to have a good time. These portraits make you feel a certain way. Looking at photos like these is a good way to study lighting, story-telling and poses.
- Concert Posters/Album Covers/Promotional Shots: Even though you might not go to the concert, you can still check out the portraits. Apart from the lighting, props and backgrounds, this is fantastic because the poses are fun to look at. I like the photo on Matthew West’s new Live Forever album. He looks so happy, so real and just fun like he is (or maybe I like it because I remember how awesome it was to “meet” him!). This is what you want in a portrait: real feelings, comfortable poses and a good setup.
- Nature Magazines: Not long ago, I visited my Mimi’s house and I was drawn to an Audubon magazine, the 2015 Photography Awards issue (so much so that I borrowed it from her and took it home). I loved the fun bird photos…it was a little hard to get past the awesome aerial Flamingo photo…and to add to the cool photos, there were a few pages for nature photography equipment and clothing!
- Pinterest: It’s a time-drain, yes, but it’s my go-to when I need something new. Pinterest has everything from Senior photos to DIY newborn studio setups. You can find a lot of fun poses, cheat sheets, lighting tips and loads of other helpful things. When you find a photo you like, study it. Then, during a photoshoot, twist it to make it your own.
- Family Snapshots: Nothing…nothing…is better than going through an album (or your hard drive) and looking at family photos. I recently found a photo of me and a wonderful family friend who passed away two years ago. He was one of the best friends and mentors I’ve ever known, and I miss him a lot. The photo of us is a tad blurry and slightly orange-ish, but it reminds me of some of the best times of my life. That is called a memory and that’s what makes a photo become a story, even if no one else but you can read the pages.
- Other Photographers: This sort of goes with Pinterest, but watching other people take photos in real life is inspiration all its own. Back when I had had my DSLR for less than half-a-year, a friend and I went to the city garden to have fun and photograph the flowers. As we found a patch of blooms swarmed by monarch butterflies, a small group of photographers with large tripods and hefty DSLRs walked toward us. “Oh, guys” announced one to his friends, “Make way for the real photographers.” I thought that was so funny, and it’s been my motivation time and again: to be a “real photographer” and take photos that, if we ever crossed paths again, would make that photographer know he wasn’t joking.
Do you have any other sources for inspiration while in a rut? Tell me your ideas in the comments!