Photography without inspiration is like fire without fuel.
Before I begin loosely throwing around the terms photography and inspiration too many times in this article take a moment to think about what these terms mean to you…
- What is photography?
- What is inspiration?
No seriously… take a moment and stop reading. Stop where you are. Look into space, clear your thoughts and think… What do you interpret these words to mean?
Ready? Lets pick up where we left off.
To be a „creative“ realist, definitions of these terms take different forms to different people. Yes there is the literal interpretation of each word. We know „photography“ as the means to capture a 2-dimensional image either with film chemistry or electronic sensors and „inspiration“ according to answers.com is „Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity“. My challenge to you is shed the literal interpretation of these words.
What is photography to you? Only you will know the right answer. For me it is the capture of beauty in its rawest form, it is the sense of motion, it is the sense of depth, it is color… it is awe. All of these things combined, photography amounts to the means of transportation, to take me and the viewer somewhere beyond the here and now.
What is inspiration to you? Again only you will know the right answer. For me it is anything that causes me to light up from the inside out. That millisecond of life when I really live, when my senses are heightened and more times than not I can hardly find words, but settle for „Wow!“ If you’re familiar with my photography it will instantly become obvious that landscapes, wildlife, intimate nature portraits and even beautiful city views catch my eye. Inspiration is seldom confined to one narrow view of life. Inspiration is the reflection of a complex series of experiences and tastes.
Back to „inspired photography“… what is the secret behind it? How do you attain it?
The secret is you. You are your own question and answer. Sound too ethereal?
Think back to when you first got your camera. What were the first things you really wanted to go out and photograph? Where was the first place you wanted to go to use your camera? Odds are at that very moment you knew the things that inspired you. If you’ve outgrown what your initial interests were, I would argue your gut is your divining rod. When out in the field follow your mind’s eye and note the moments when you really get excited about what you’re photographing.
Increasing awareness to these fleeting moments is what will help you lock in on what photographic subjects truly inspire you and invariably will translate to photographs that set themselves apart from the others. Technique aside, a photograph will rarely shine if it’s of a subject that isn’t of interest to you. Technical skills and post-processing techniques can be applied and learned, but „inspired photography“ requires heightened inner awareness of the photographer. „Inspired photography“ will light a fire in the eyes of your viewers setting your photograph apart from the rest.