Everything in life has meaning if we look deeply enough, and recognising this is the foremost technique in finding inspiration when it won’t come to us. That meaning can so easily translate into inspiration for creative endeavours so it is an invaluable tool for anyone who is feeling ‘blocked.’
The Untamed Passage (2010)
To find inspiration in a blank space is arguably one of the most difficult ways to work, since the space itself gives no clues as to how to fill it. we simply have to be creative and come up with ways to make a dull space interesting. Alternatively, one could argue that it is easy to work with a blank space because you can do whatever you want within it. It depends on the way you look at it. This image was inspired by an instinctive reaction to blank, empty space: the sensation of falling.
The first step to finding meaning in everything is to, very simply, change our routine. Take a different route to work—who knows what you will find? Try a different type of cuisine instead of the usual fare, and think about where it comes from and how it’s made. Try a new hobby with a friend just for the sake of trying something new. Go to a cooking class, or join a bike-riding group. Try pottery, or pick up a paintbrush. And remember, there is no right or wrong, and there is no one judging. Feeling blocked is often a symptom of being stagnant in another area of life.
Immortal Bird (2010)
Several techniques were mixed to achieve this image. Not only was levitation photography implemented, but it was also shot at night using special lights: paper lanterns from Ikea, housing 200- watt bulbs from the hardware store. Photography does not have to be expensive, nor does it have to be a skill that is learned through years at school; it can be what we make it into.
If we break up our routines we will start to break out of our comfort zones. Once out there, make a conscious effort to notice things that are new and unusual; this is grist to the inspiration-mill. It might be worth trying to incorporate something newly discovered, however small or insignificant, into a photograph to arouse your creativity.
Then you can take this one step further and try to find inspiration in the mundane. Most of us have a home that we are used to seeing on a daily basis, and so we often do not even see the objects in it any more. Challenge yourself to find inspiration in everyday objects by doing more than just looking at them. Really try to see them: look beyond the objects themselves and don’t be too literal.
This is a self-portrait that was taken in a creek. The inspiration came from the simplest of sources—the use of a new camera angle. It was shot with a camera on a tripod, using the kit 18–55mm lens at 18mm, and photographed looking downwards. The tripod legs were edited out of the picture later, but the process itself was fairly simple. By experimenting technically with photography there are endless possibilities of what can be created.
Finding inspiration in the everyday
The point of the ‘everyday object’ challenge is to remind you that inspiration is everywhere; you just have to look for it. For this ‘everyday object’ challenge, think about a chair. It’s an object that almost everyone across the world will encounter every day in some form or another, and with which everyone has different associations. The key is to be able to look at an everyday object in a new light and use it as a springboard for inspiration. Take a moment to consider the following questions:
- Examine the shapes of the chairs in your environment. reduce them to their component parts and consider each individually. what do they remind you of?
- Is there some symbolism to each part of the chair? to the seat, legs, back, or arm rests?
- What uses can a chair be put to? how could you incorporate each use into your photography?
- Personalise it: what memories do you have of chairs? Are they positive or negative?
- Is there a specific chair that has more meaning to you than others?
The answers to these questions will be varied and the results will show you how your mind works. From answering each of these questions, you will not only have analysed in depth an object that you pass by every day, but you will also have the foundation built to start creating images from this inspiration.
Inspiration is not a far-flung concept, out of reach to all but a few great artists, and nor is it a matter of chance; as a photographer it’s possible to train your mind to see the creative possibilities in any situation. Featuring the pioneering work of author Brooke Shaden and a selection of carefully chosen contributing photographers, Inspiration in Photography book provides the perfect balance of insight and instruction to help you find inspiration whenever you need it and capitalise on it every time.
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