Inspiration and Where to Find it.
Inspiration. At times, we seem to lack it. We feel burned out, a little lost, and start to possibly doubt the quality of our own work at times because we feel we're not putting our best foot forward into our shots because we just seem to lack that drive.
Most everyone has been there. I know I have. We can watch videos on YouTube and photo documentaries and such and try to get some outside inspiration, but sometimes, it just doesn't work. These videos and things can be great at times, but they may not get to the heart of what we really need.
Ask yourself this: What are my passions outside of photography when you're not shooting? If you're like me, you love pop culture/great movies and TV shows. I have also played guitar for over 20 years, so I'll retreat to that for a bit. I love doing these things outside of photography, so why not incorporate these other passions of mine into my photography, even if it forces me to shoot things I didn't normally shoot, such as concerts and pop culture events?
Here's an example. For the first several years of my photography career, I mainly shot landscapes, weddings, and portraits. I loved what I did. I loved the interactions with people, sharing their big days with them, and loved being outdoors! There came a time, though, when I hit a wall. I just got burned out on the same type of shoots. It just felt a little repetitious. I wanted more. I wanted to explore other avenues. I thought to myself, "Well, what are my favorite things currently?"
My favorite show for a long time, (and is still one of my favorites), was Lost. I thought, "What can I do to contribute to the show that I love and also give something to fans of the show that they may like to check out as well?". To make a long story short, and after several emails back and forth to the wonderful Kelly Rodill, (the organizer for this event), I ended up flying to Hawaii and becoming the official photographer of the Lost 2014 event, a fan gathering for the 10th anniversary of the show taking place where the show was filmed. I had a fantastic time shooting this event! Made a lot of great friends as well!
In addition, I also wanted to check out what a lot of the filming locations looked like currently, 10 years after the filming. I thought a lot of fans might like to see them as well, so I trekked around the island for 7 days straight photographing filming locations. My inspiration level was at an all time high! You can check out the series of photos here:
Had I not taken the initiative to get that gig and wander into new shooting territory to break the repetition and get back that drive, I wouldn't have had all the great experiences that I did! I did it because it was something I loved. It wasn't some lecture I watched. It wasn't some book I read trying to get my passion back. It felt very natural. It was something that I already had a natural love for. It just flowed and the shots kept coming. Not only that, but I've been invited back for Lost 2017 and 2020 to photograph the events and aid in the organization!
Same goes for all the concerts I currently shoot. Had I not taken the initiative to email the marketing people at these venues and really put myself out there, I never would have had the opportunities to photograph and meet the people I have! That initiative came from my love of music, which had already been there for several years!
You don't necessarily always have to *look* for drive or inspiration. There are things you already have the drive for! You just need to figure out how you can incorporate your photography into these passions, even if it's something you don't normally photograph. Think outside of your current shooting box! Don't get too wrapped up in a dozen videos and books. Find inspiration more naturally within yourself concerning things you already love, build your photos around that, and then see where it takes you!
You never know what great people you may meet, places you may go, or what member of the Beatles you end up goofing off with backstage!
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