In today’s world, access to visual media is prevalent, in fact, we’re bombarded with it daily, and so with photography being a form of visual media it’s easy to assume finding inspiration is simple. In reality, it’s not as easy as you would assume and the age old adage of quality over quantity becomes relevant. Managing our access to material in a way that helps combat the risk of saturation, quantity and not quality is something everyone should think about. Asking yourself if what you’re getting truly is inspiration, or is it that 2 second buzz that’s goes just as easily as it came. Here are a few thoughts on ways I’ve found inspiration, and also some sources that I find I go to more regularly.
The first thing to mention is that this isn’t a post about bashing mainstream social media. Whist I feel this is probably the easiest way to become overwhelmed with less inspiring material, and mask the better stuff, things like Facebook and Instagram can be a genuine source of inspiration if managed appropriately. I’m not going to talk any further on this particular area as it can be a bit of a minefield, and how inspirational it is to you will depend on so many other factors. (In part 1 of this post, I will focus mostly on the digital formats, with part 2 covering other sources)
Another place to find a huge amount of easy to access media is YouTube, now I know this is still under the social media umbrella, but there are a few things that separate it a bit. Firstly, being video focused, there’s a bit more scope to getting the journey, or the context of a photo captured and put into a quick to digest form. It’s very easy to find many 10-15 minute videos that can convey a story that would be much longer to read – very handy when time is short. Thomas Heaton’s channel being one example, where its more about the journey to get the photograph, than the photo itself. Another channel I find inspiring for a different reason is Sean Tucker’s, where again, there’s a lot more than just the photos. His videos are very thought provoking, delving into the psychology and lots more that plays a much bigger role in developing as a photographer than I ever imagined. I often get that lightbulb moment when watching his videos as things really begin to resonate, so I highly recommend checking that one out.
Mattias Burling has a great channel for street photography and gear reviews that are not about pixel peeping or the latest and greatest, but candid real-world use (I try avoid the click-bait channels that seem all too common). The last YouTube mention is not a specific one for photography, but something that always makes me want to plan my next adventure, and that’s Eugeniusz Delbowski. His channel is all about hiking in mountains and beautiful places (mostly Poland), which is something I love to do. This may not be something that interests you, but the message is find someone doing what you love to see/photograph that isn’t a photography channel. You’ll see a different view that may help inspire you. (Before moving on, notable mentions on YouTube are FStoppers, Street Level Photography and National Geographic).
Personally, I don’t find many photography forums that useful for finding inspiration. They can be a great source of reviews, tutorials/tips etc, but inspiration wise they don’t seem to work for me. It seems pretty rare to see anything that pushes the right buttons, and the experience on them is all too easily affected by some of the ‘personalities’.
Last of the digital sources are blogs/websites. These are less passive than other sources like Facebook etc as you have to actively visit the site or use a feedly type app (and you’re likely to have many fewer blogs in there than Facebook friends!). One to reappear from earlier in the post is Fstoppers, which does have free content as well as the paid content, then a few others worth looking at is are Luminous Landscape, outdoorphotographer and Loaded Landscapes.
Hopefully that provides some food for thought, in part 2 I will take a look at some of the non-digital ways in which I try to find inspiration.