Why and How: Seeking Inspiration in Nature Photography - Part 1
Finding inspiration in nature photography is sometimes difficult. It's a bit like being in front of a blank page for a writer. Sometimes we do not know how to display the emotions we are experiencing when we encounter a landscape scenery or an animal. Lacking inspiration, we are not satisfied with the pictures we have created.
When we are faced with this problem as art photographers, we adopt another attitude. We search the depths of our souls, striving to regain inspiration. We refocus.
How to Define Inspiration
In two different dictionaries, we found two definitions of inspiration:
- It is an internal movement that carries out, suggests or advises some action.
- It is the enthusiasm or the creative breath that animates an artist.
These two definitions “summarize” or “generalize”, thus making it difficult for a photographer of nature to easily find answers to his or her quest for inspiration. Inspiration is an important and essential question that taunts most nature photographers who dedicate their work to the creation of art photographs.
Finding inspiration is a mysterious and fascinating act. Why do we find it so easy to be creative at certain times of our lives, and yet at other times, so difficult? It remains an enigma to us.
Inspiration cannot be decreed. It does not control itself. It cannot be appropriated. These are facts of which we are certain. Some photographers that we follow regularly search for their creative muse in their line of work. It would be an inexhaustible source of creativity. These photographers can be just as desperate as we sometimes are. The mythical “muse” is a method that sometimes works but is truly the foundation of inspiration? This seems hard to prove.
We have established the fact that inspiration is challenging for a photographer. Fortunately, once it has been discovered, it flourishes and blooms within the mind of the artist, thus having a deep impact on creativity. Although it may disappear, it might also return, and the photographer may never fully understand why. As artistic photographers, we are immensely humble when one of our collections is warmly received by our customers. This success is a credit to our hard work, even if the recognition is a passing one. After this successful period of inspiration, we find ourselves on an artistically flat plateau of creativity. It is at this point in our lives that we experience humility again.
The word inspiration generally means two different things. Although it relates to artistic creation, it also correlates to the physiological phenomenon of respiration within the lungs. What is very interesting is that we can find a very strong relationship between the two senses. Indeed, when you breathe, your lungs fill with fresh air, abundant in oxygen, which allows us to analyze our physical or intellectual actions. The two meanings of the word inspiration are intertwined, even if their context is different.
A Few Words on Our Career of Professional Photography
We began our journey of professional photography by producing photos for online agencies and magazines. In this type of activity and at that time, creativity was not an essentiality. The important thing was to make photographs in relation to actuality and impeccable technicality. The goal was to deliver pictures as quickly as possible for articles’ illustrations. During all those years, inspiration was not a requirement. Instead, we created photos relative to a specific travel article or company report. Once in the field, we did not ask ourselves many existential questions. Our only objective was to produce photos of quality, without translating our state of mind.
When in 2010, we made the decision to progress to artistic photography, the challenge became completely different. In this area, each photo is centered around emotion. While the picture should accurately depict our emotions, it must also appeal to customers, who wish to decorate their homes, offices or exhibitions.
When we redirected our focus to artistic photography, we began to contemplate the subtleties of the word "inspiration". We slowly made the transition from stock photography to artistic photography. These are two totally different universes that each demand distinctly different skills and visions. During a trip of several days, we happened to be immersed in nature. It was on that trip that we realized the impact that inspiration has on artistic photography. To fully embrace this new approach, we had to forget our previous focus on topical or illustrative photos. Our life has, greatly changed since that decision.
In artistic photography, each photo becomes a challenge. Over the course of our career, we sometimes experienced moments of despair where we suddenly did not have any inspiration. At those times, we often failed in producing an interesting series (whether technically or artistically) for demanding clients. Artistic nature photography is a very complex universe. It can be difficult to pull together all the elements needed to evoke an emotional response in an audience. We must never forget that the continuation of our work depends on our customers. Although we respect our own artistic approach, we must not forget to respect others’ criteria for our photographs, that is, we want our work to be appropriate for various places.
Why: Seeking Inspiration in Nature Photography
Artistic inspiration consists in enriching ourselves through innovative ideas, encouraging us to create original works. Inspiration helps us to create photographic works that drive a strong emotional meaning, transcribing a certain message to the audience through the magic on the field or in post-editing. Inspiration is a vector that allows us to channel our creative energy, transferring the mood of the photograph to the minds of our audience. We strive to inscribe our personal emotions into our artistic photographs.
When we create stimulating nature photographs, it is necessary for us to be in a state of absolute inspiration. Our goal is to translate our emotions and feelings into the picture, so that the viewers might experience those same passions. It is for this reason that we are always searching for the perfect mood.
We believe that inspiration is received from the outside world. It is not the result of our own personal work, even if we believe it to be. Inspiration occurs when the artist is influenced by an external force, allowing the individual to create harmonious photographs that are more impactful than a shallow illustrative photograph such as a stock photograph.
Inspiration allows us to expand and improve our work. In our artistic photographs, we are now endeavoring to make unusual photos. And believe us it is very, very challenging!
For Us, Inspiration Is Not a Permanent State
Since the initial stages in our field of artistic photography, we found that the state of inspiration is fleeting. For us, it is a temporary, a transitory position. Later in this article, we must create the conditions for achieving this state of grace where we can totally think of the photographic collections we want to create. We are professional photographers. People work for us. We have obligations to them. Billing, accounting, communication, marketing and management tasks are part of our everyday life as every entrepreneur. Yet we must create pictures and find inspiration to do so. That is why we are organizing ourselves.
We have learned to manage, to master cycles in our lives.
When we act as business leaders, we simply read books about photography or magazines. We do not seek to be creative in photography: it would be a waste of time. When we decide to create, we air ourselves and we seek isolation by delegating. It is during these cycles that we seek inspiration.
It is sometimes very difficult but with the time we get used to it.
Finally, inspiration is a cycle that must be planned and managed. It is at this price that we manage to create collections of interesting photographs.