Any creative person has periods of time when it seems like the creative juices stop flowing. It can be easy to get in to a routine and fall into a creative rut. Here are 6 places to get inspiration for your photography.
1. Watch a Movie
If you watch a good movie and really study each scene you will soon realize the amount of thought and work that went into making sure each frame helps tell the story of the film through composition, light, color, and mood. Watch with a notebook and take down notes or sketches when you see or learn something. What can you learn about composition from this scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you’re looking for movie ideas, the Criterion Collection is a good start.
2. Read a Book
Fiction or nonfiction, it doesn’t matter. The idea is to introduce your brain to new ideas. Books can help you understand a new point of view or gain empathy for those in a certain situation. I’m not ashamed to admit that I really enjoyed listening to the audio book version of The Fault in Our Stars after my wife introduced it to me. The writing is strong and the characters have depth. The book inspired me to get out and shoot something meaningful.
3. Visit the Magazine Rack
I tend to make my best photographs when I’m photographing something I really care about. Sometimes when we are looking for inspiration we are really looking for those things that spark our interest or topics that we have a passion for. The book store or magazine rack is a great place to quickly browse and discover (or rediscover) those things that get our blood flowing.
4. Learn a new Hobby
Sometimes the best way to get over a creative bump in the road is to step away from photography for a time and try a new hobby. Switch gears and try doing something else that you enjoy or learn a new skill. I personally enjoy going for a long ATV ride to clear my head and get a fresh perspective.
5. Study and Ask
Take time to pick out an artist or photographer who you admire and really study their work. Ask yourself “Why and how did they make this artwork? Why do I admire it? What lessons of photography can I learn from this artist’s work?” If there is a particular piece that really resonates with you, consider using as inspiration and creating something similar. Try to reverse engineer the piece and you will be surprised how much you will learn by figuring out how it was done.
6. Interview someone
I’m a firm believer that everyone has an interesting story to tell. Pick someone (friend or stranger) you’d like to learn more about and sit down with them over lunch. Spend the time to really get to know them and find out about their passions and experiences. Every time I’ve done this I’ve found common ground and something interesting about the person. If the situation is appropriate, ask them if you can take a portrait and even post it with a short essay about the person. Most people will be flattered that someone would take the time to learn about them. For bonus points, turn this project into a series and interview and photograph several people who all share a common attribute. Maybe you interview 10 mailmen, or bowling alley attendants. Everyone has a story.
Pinterest can easily become a black hole sucking up all of your time, but if you use it sparingly it can also be a great source of photography inspiration. I like to create boards to use as idea boards before a specific shoot to get posing, and lighting ideas. Feel free to follow my boards on Pinterest:
There are literally hundreds of podcasts out there on the topic of art and photography. Subscribe to a few and you are bound to get some fresh ideas or tips and tricks for improving your photography. Shameless plug: I’d love for you to subscribe to the Camera Stupid Podcast. I try to publish a new episode at least once a week with helpful photography tips and creative ideas to try.