I decided a few years ago to focus on becoming a better photographer. My motivation was to pursue a career within the field and maybe make it my living. Going from taking pictures every now and then to working creatively on a daily basis made me doubt myself. Was I creative enough, and where would I find inspiration? I quickly realised that these things don't come for free, and I have to work hard to reach my desired potential. So how do I find inspiration to work creatively? Here is how I do it!
Starting with my basic needs
Many times I found myself in the same situation. My pictures lack emotion, my edits just look boring or don't represent me, and I have no inspiration to create social media content. Instead of beating myself up about it, the most efficient way to get back on the horse is to step aside and take a break.
I find that regular breaks with exercise make my brain fresh, creative, and recharged, and I start to think more clearly. Often, I've taken my best photos, edited my favourite images, and created tons of content after a 20-minute jog. Honestly, most of my ideas come to me when walking outside rather than sitting in front of my computer. You may have seen my Walk & Talks on Instagram stories. These short video clips highly represent me and what makes me feel good. Creating content and walking!
It's not me making these things up. There is a lot of evidence suggesting that physical activity positively affects our mental health status, concentration, and problem-solving skills. The best news is that it's basically free and free from side effects. It doesn't have to be complicated either. As long as the heart rate increases and there is a small break of sweat during 20 minutes, a significant portion of well-being hormones are released, affecting the body and mind positively.
Physical activity makes my brain fresh and creative. The best news I that there are no harmful side effects and it's basically for free. Unfortunately, this photo is not mine, but all creds to Greg Rosenke.
Experimenting with no end result in mind
At times, I could feel stressed that only a few of my photos were good enough to reach print-status or become motifs for my children's clothes collections. I studied harder and did more courses. Of course, I improved technically, but I couldn't make my living by copying other artist's work. I needed to find my own way with the knowledge I had gathered.
A dear friend told me that you have to take time and experiment with no end result in mind as an artist. This has truly helped me improve and made me more familiar with the gear that I use. Today, I can deliberately go out and spend my time failing. I play around with my settings and different lenses and just acknowledge and learn from those mistakes. Sometimes, my mistakes have benefited me and produced beautiful pictures.
One day I decided to experiment with colour and texture. There was nothing special about the light or weather, and it was mid-day. I just felt that I needed to go out and experiment. What happens if I put my lens in a bush and manually focus on different subjects?
Forcing myself and looking for opportunities
Capturing atmospheric photos requires certain conditions. Mornings and evenings bring beautiful light, fog gives a mystical atmosphere, and stormy weather can add drama to an image. The problem is that I can't always have these conditions, and when they finally appear, I need to be prepared. I tell myself that every day and any time is an excellent opportunity to go out and photograph. When the conditions aren't photographically optimal, I can instead do research about different areas. How far has the spring come? How would the sun set in this area? Search for ideal compositions and test my gear. When I do these things, I'm better prepared when the storm comes!
I have to confess that I'm terrible in the mornings, although I've taken my best photos in the early morning light. Therefore I want to get up but also limit the occasions when I need to do it. If I'm well prepared, I know where to go and what to do to "get lucky".
I promised my son to take a photo of a fox. I prepared myself, which allowed me to have a lucky and intimate moment with an urban Berliner fox. I knew I had to go out early morning. My mission was to capture spring flowers, but I prepared myself just in case. I set my camera on auto setting and took my lens hood off at home. The fox was almost the first thing I saw that morning, and I could quickly grab my camera and take some shots. What made me happy was seeing that it looked to be in good condition and hunting for rats. You can probably see the rat's tail hanging from the fox's mouth! A lucky but planned moment!
Finding inspiration elsewhere
Although most of us can probably find inspiration from within ourselves, I can see it helpful to study other people's work. It's not at all about copying but finding different ways and directions that help me unlock curiosity. Instagram is a terrific place to find inspiration and to explore other techniques and styles. Especially now when all types of cultural venues are closed until further notice. I have also seen countless Youtube videos about composition, light, post-processing, and gear. This has helped me understand more about photography, but it wasn't until I let my soul in that I started to break the rules and take the photos I actually wanted.
I learned about bokeh and depth of field through YouTube and got inspiration on applying it by looking at different photos on Instagram. I knew I wanted to take calm and minimalistic images, but at first, I didn't know how to. Learning, looking, and trying helped me create this photo.
Thanks for reading, and the best of luck!