Where do you find your inspiration?
I’ve made a lot of decisions over the years about how to develop as a photographer and where to seek inspiration Some were good, some not so good. I’d like to think I’ve developed into a reasonable one, but admit there is always room for improvement.
like many of those before me I looked to the greats such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein and Robert Frank to inspire me. I was amazed by most , less so by others. I naively thought I could do better!
Books and videos
When I started I used to buy secondhand photo books, cut various pages out and hang them up in my computer room. Every now and then I would lean back in my chair and let my eyes fall on the pictures in the hope that some of the magic would somehow transfer to my brain.
I scoured websites like Pinterest with the aim of analysing the work of those I admired. This pushed me into trying new techniques and made me think about how to develop my own style.
I watched documentaries such as Annie Leibovitz ‘Life through a lens’ and ‘Guest of Cindy Sherman’ All of which gave me an incite into how these people think and their work flow.
World Wide Web
YouTube, Metacafe and Vimeo can also be a good source of free material. Just type in ‘Street photography documentary’ and a good sized list comes up. I spent many a productive evening at work pouring over those videos.
(I have listed some essential street/documentary based programmes with links at the bottom of the page)
Websites like Flickr, 500px and Facebook allow you to subject your work for instant mass criticism, but beware you might need a pretty thick skin as some of the comments you may receive could be quite nasty. It can be a good way of getting your work out there and seen though. That said you will have to be either very good or exceptionally unique to stand out from the multitude of users.
Photo walks, meet-ups, courses and clubs are also good ways to learn new stuff and enable you to also grow your network of photographic contacts. Unfortunately for me I work nights so this avenue is currently closed.
Of course the best potography inspiration there is, is simply the drive to be the best you can, and keep forging forward. Never rest on your laurels. I am constantly reassessing my work. A favourite picture one month will be digital skip fodder the next.
A few years ago my work was critiqued by Zack Arias (him of pointy beard fame) He was harsh but fair and correct in his assessment. It forced me to re-valuate my entire ethos. He made me see things I hadn’t noticed or thought of before, firstly because he is a much better photographer than me and also because we are our own worse enemy when it comes to self appraisal.
It will often take someone outside our comfort zone to set us on the right path. Family and friend assessments defiantly do not count as they will more often than not lie in order not to disappoint you. Remember we are always learning.
Photography documentary videos (with links)
Pen, Brush and Camera – Henri Cartier-Bresson Here
The Many Lives of William Klein – BBC Here
Into The Real World – William Eggleston Here
Nobody’s Here But Me – Cindy Sherman Here
Near Equal – Daido Moriyama Here
The Eloquent Eye – Alfred Stieglitz Here
BBC Masters of Photography – Diane Arbus Here
Masters of Photography – Andre Kertesz Here
BBC Masters of Photography – Alfred Eisenstaedt Here