“What inspires you?” is a question that always gets asked of an artist. Some artists are inspired by ideas, and people, others by music, places and books. There are many ways to be inspired, two of them are imitation and intuition. Both have their benefits. By imitation you are inspired by observing other people’s work. For example, I am inspired by the works of Ansel Adams. Ansel Adam’s tonal range, straight photography technique, classic composition and timeless quality has always inspired me. He stayed true to what photography is. His subject was the wilderness of America and it created a sense of awe and wonder in me. A few other photographers that have inspired me are Charles Kramer and my favorite photography teacher, Steve Dzergian.
When you observe photography that you like really study what it is about their work that intrigues you and how you can implement that in your own photography. Imitation is really a shortcut for inspiration, don’t get me wrong, it can be helpful, but where I really feel inspired comes from Intuition. Seeing with the eyes and shooting from the heart. This is the way we become original and express our own feelings. My ultimate inspiration comes from the sense of awe that comes from God’s glory seen in creation. When I am exploring, something will emerge that I am drawn to and intrigued by. There is a story waiting to be told there.
Here are two exercises to stretch your intuition:
Make a list of things that you love most, things that you are passionate about and the most interested in. Now create a series of images that allow you to express that passion, your excitement and curiosity will make this project easier to do, and also more personal and gratifying. Shoot without limitations. Ignore the critical voice in your head. Don’t judge things when you first start exploring, just play and have fun.
Take a break and review your images. Now is the time to critique your work.
Get pickier. go out to the same location you were shooting at before. This time try to only take 3 pictures that are very well thought out. Refine and simplify. Be conscious of everything you are doing. Pay attention to your point of view, light direction, composition, exposure, focus, cropping, and story telling. If it isn’t something you would hang on your wall delete it and try again.
When I first came upon this scene of aspen trees I tried to frame the image so the fallen tree would not be included in the composition. I worked on various positions for maybe thirty minutes and they were all boring. being frustrated that it wasn’t going to be perfect I made the fallen tree the center of attention. I saw myself reflected in what I was trying to do. I learned it was okay to let others see your flaws and not try to put on a perfect facade. Perfectionism can kill your creativity and hinder relationships.