In part 1 I covered the digital forms of media that I find useful for sources of inspiration, in this post I will talk more about other sources of inspiration. With finding inspiration from non-online sources it can take more effort, but often it can have a bigger impact, so is certainly worth exploring. That being said, there are some easy access sources that may be closer than you realise.
Photo books are a classic way to access images from many of the world’s great photographers, whether its recent work, or some of the early work like that of Ansel Adams. Whilst you can run a Google image search for the works of Ansel et al, it’s still not the same as a book in hand. Not only for any nostalgic or romantic notions of book vs screen, but there are a number of other reasons a photo book can trump an online browse. One simple reason is its much more pleasant viewing an image on paper, no backlight, high resolution and being able to adjust viewing distance/angle simply make the experience easier on the eye. Making the viewing experience more pleasurable will undoubtedly allow you to get the most out of it, and hopefully find inspiration. Taking the time to sit and enjoy some photo books is not only good for your photography, but also just relaxing in general.
As well as books containing collections of images, I find nothing more motivating than a book about the adventure and stories behind some of the great photographers. A perfect example of this is “Galen Rowell’s Inner Game of Outdoor Photography” which not only has lots of amazing images, but also some truly inspiring stories to back them up. As someone who loves the outdoors, camera in hand or not, it really makes me want to get out or plan my next adventure. This isn’t only limited to outdoor photography, and with a little bit of searching you can find similar books for many subjects, and don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be a photographers book to inspire you to get out and experience something with your camera.
Galleries, these can be a little more difficult for some depending on where you live, but ultimately are worth the extra effort if you can get to one. Seeing high quality images printed large on the finest of mediums really takes the viewing pleasure up a level. I get to travel to San Diego quite a lot with work, and down by La Jolla cove there are a few galleries which are free to enter including a National Geographic one. One that I really like to visit is the Peter Lik gallery. Now I know that name tends to stir up plenty of debate online (read bickering and trolling), but without doubt he produces some really striking images, and seeing them displayed in a gallery format makes it all the more worthwhile. Another thing that’s taken me back to that particular gallery is being able to view specific images in the viewing rooms under certain lighting, helping bring out the best in colours etc. That’s always guaranteed to make me want to pick up my camera.
Lastly, but certainly not least is my own images. Now before everyone cries narcissist, this is not because I like my images more that any other (usually quite the opposite), but more because they can take me back to a place or moment when chances are I was having fun. My commute is a drive, and I live in a flat and not so dramatic bit of the UK, so if I’m out with my camera in hand I’m usually away somewhere on some downtime. Looking back at these moments really can help dust off the cobwebs to make you get out and about. Something which helps with this, and personally I think everyone should do is print your pictures, not necessarily lots, but ones you truly like. I also take the time to do a proper Photo book from every holiday, that way its much nicer to look back on those moments and relive them when you can’t be out there in person. So don’t be afraid to commit some of your own images to the physical world, you might find it more inspiring than you realise.