Create a Photographic Vision to Find Inspiration for your Photos
Tip # 13: Finding Inspiration Requires You to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Many photographers are well immersed in their daily cocoon. They do not want to get out. I know many such individuals. I do not criticize them. I respect their choices.
They are comfortable with their habits, however, their created rules have imprisoned and restricted their potential.
They hope to avoid major hassles of the world and be free of bad influences.
Over time, they will realize that by staying in their comfort zone, they will not encounter inspiration.
Inspiration requires you to take risks in your daily life. It is through creating new challenges for which you are not prepared that inspiration dawns.
Inspiration can also be found in facing the most total unknown to explore new creative avenues. This is what I call "release creativity".
I often meet nature photographers who tell me that they are not inspired. During each conversation, they tell me that all the subjects have already been covered, that there is nothing more to invent.
I must be honest. I too have experienced these sensations when I was not at my best. But I managed to emerge and regain energy to face new challenges.
During my photo workshops and photography conferences, this is a point that I always address. I advise photographers in the audience to get out of their comfort zone that comes with the success of a project or exhibition.
Some photographers take everything for granted and believe that success is solely because of their greatness and skill.
This is a terrible mistake because one of the main qualities to be a good photographer is to remain humble when facing success.
When lack of inspiration occurs, it is impossible to say how long it will last.
If you tend to lock yourself away in your comfort zone, I recommend that you try to get out of it. Your inspiration will regenerate if you choose to take risks, when you will you throw yourself into the unknown, when you get out of your comfort zone.
Tip # 14: Inspiration Is the Opposite of Manufacturing
When you prepare your photographs, whether in post-processing or for printing, you are no longer in the process of inspiration in its general sense.
Of course, there is a small part of inspiration that you may encounter, but it is lower in intensity than the one you had when you create your photographs on the field or when you first dream of a collection.
In editing and processing, you advance step by step, little by little. Inspiration is gradual and not monumental.
For example, in my case, during my daily work when I manage my pictures or I prepare my mats, I live in a manufacturing process. I am not thinking. I apply proven processes. I obey the rules I established to avoid wasting time.
For these "dummy" tasks, I am not looking for the creative act. I am just looking to make everything perfect for my customers.
During the inspiration phases, you must be in a state of incredible tranquility and serenity. Everything should seem possible to you. You should no longer have a limit. You must not obey any rule or principle. You must progress at the whim of your imagination.
It is for these reasons that inspiration has nothing to do with manufacturing.
These are two different states.
The production phase, which I refer to as involving steps of technical activity, creates a product through the application of a frame of rules. Efficiency is key. I know what my product will be. Manufacturing results from a voluntary and conscious act of implementing processes and skills.
When you are in the state of inspiration, you will find that you do not obey any rule. You create. You try to make something which did not exist before. You going to discover your photographs as time progress. This is the big difference between illustrative photography, which I practiced for years, and artistic photography: a rigid set of rules and processes.
Tip # 15: Managing a Lack of Inspiration
With experience and the more you practice introspection, you will be able to identify and analyze these rich periods of creativity where you produce interesting and emotionally photo collections. Do not worry if you also experiment with trying to create in your worst times.
It will happen to you. It has happened to me. This lack of inspiration may occur at any moment. Sometimes you will decide to create certain photographs despite this feeling of empty emotion.
/ You will go on the field to make pictures of landscapes or wildlife or underwater without even once triggering your camera. During these sessions, you know that even if you trigger, you will not produce anything interesting or original. This reaction is completely normal.
I have also experimented with this. There is no doubt in my mind that it will happen again, and at some point, I will encounter the problem of the blank page. I feel the same symptoms that you do in those moments: a lack of imagination, no desire to make the photos, a great weariness and apathy. It is a difficult experience.
Often, these periods of coincide with moments of failure or tragedy in our personal or professional life. In general, a failure leads to demotivation which leads to another failure. It is a hellish spiral that may feel as if it will never end.
I know. It is pretty terrifying. I have had periods that lasted for months without being able to create anything original. These are crucial moments because between the pause in the creation phase and the negative toll of sales, it may take a year or two to regain one’s footing. It may be an exceptionally long time because the charges inherent in my commercial company never stop even in times when inspiration is out of order.
If you come to experience such a period, try to get over the failure or the bad news. A failure should not fuel a downward spiral where you encounter the impression that everything you create life lacks creativity.
On the contrary, you must consider failure from the perspective of it being an obstacle to overcome, that it will not keep you down forever. At some point, you will encounter inspiration that bounces you back into the creative sphere and boosts your production once again.
Feel free to take the time to thoroughly process your failures. Understanding why something happened helps you to gain control of your future actions, whether professionally or personally.
I recommend that you consider failure as first brick of a foundation on which you will construct your greatest masterpiece.
As far as I am concerned, failure has the same value as success. It deserves as much attention. I always analyze it seriously and objectively. I always learn at least one if not several lessons from it.
If you adopt this analytical method for your failures, you will more easily find good periods of creativity. You are unable to predict when and how this surge of creativity reappears. Flexibility is key.
The loss of inspiration is often linked to stress, fatigue, or a failure. It is completely useless to lock yourself in this state where nothing interesting is created. If this happens to you, you must absolutely go out to recharge your batteries.
Tip # 16: Photographing Even When You Are Not Inspired
Should you take your camera bag and go to the field when you are not inspired?
This is a question; I have asked myself often.
I think the answer is yes.
Sometimes, and particularly in the big spaces of the Southwest areas of the United States, there were days where I did not feel inspired but took my camera bag with me anyways. Even if I do not immediately feel inspired, I cannot control the future. Although I may think that other photographers have captured all the interesting pictures and a certain location is exhausted, I can never know for sure.
And often, I realized that I created interesting pictures which surprised me because they were so different from my predecessors.
Of course, this will not occur in each case, but it has happened.
It is like I took pictures without being aware of what I was doing but my subconscious was working for me. Once I had returned home, I realized the beauty and uniqueness of the pictures I had captured.
I recommend that you always carry your camera with you. Looking back, you may find that your unconsciousness has taken over your weariness. Some of your photographs will provide you with interesting series.
Tip # 17: Rearranging the Foundations of Your Photographic Approach
When you realize that you are not in a very intense and creative period and that you seek inspiration, the first thing you need to do is to read all the foundations of your photography approach. You must return to your roots.
I recommend that you print this document so that you will always have it in your possession.
You should spend months defining what you like to do as a photographer. You must analyze why you love the themes you have chosen.
Being honest with your foundation of your photographic approach will keep you humble.
This introspection is always very rich. It will allow you to reposition yourself in relation to other photographers.
In these precise moments, tell yourself that you are unique, that you have your own personality. Only you have your exact arrangement of DNA. Take a step back to think about this before moving forward.
I guarantee you that this pause is a giant step towards finding inspiration.
I met and trained many photographers who had never taken the time to write this document about their photographic approach.
Since then, they have produced some extraordinarily rich and interesting collections.
Then their inspiration dried up and their production ceased. Since they had no landmarks or solid foundations, they never produced interesting photos again. Find your “why” and stick with it.
Tip # 18: Reconnecting to Your Motto
The second technique that I recommend you implement to find inspiration is to remember your motto.
Like your photographic approach, you have taken time to define it. Never forget that it characterizes you and your actions in a few words.
It is this motto which is at the origin of your photographic vocation. You may have lost it along the way. You may have forgotten it, and no longer remember all the values associated with it.
I recommend that you walk in nature, dive in a lake you love, and visit animals that you like to photograph. Return in nature to your own spring of energy.
I am sure that you will walk away feeling refreshed. Spending time with themes you love in nature fuels your passion for photography.
Never forget that nature is an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Contemplating the colors of a coastal landscape, walking in a cool sheltered forest, breathing the earthy smells of trees or plants, and observing a mineral landscape with the wind brushing against you will generate a multitude of emotions. These will positively transform your creative energy.
I used to say that nature is an inexhaustible source of resources for those who know how to look at it, smell it and listen to it. My five senses are reawakened and in it I find myself again.
The fact of observing nature and revisiting the values linked to my motto allows me to refocus my creativity. It gives me a fresh look at what I want to create.
Tip # 19: Analyzing Your Failures
The forms, the colors, the smells, and the rustles of nature are fundamental elements necessary for any act of intense creativity.
Once you have reconnected with the foundations of your photographic approach and have reconnected to your motto, you can proceed to the third step to find inspiration.
Take time to step back and analyze the failures that have pushed you into this state of depression where you were not able to create interesting pictures.
Try to regain confidence. As I said before, failure is as important as success.
If one of your photos did not win the price you expected in a photo contest or if your creations were refused for a nature photo festival, just ask yourself what you did wrong.
Perhaps you failed to tell the story of the genesis of your creations or the people you encountered were not good ones.
Showing your photographic approach to others is always a risky act.
You expose yourself to criticism. Since your nerves are on edge, one refusal or bad comment can devastate you.
During this phase of analysis, try to be as objective as possible. Try to go beyond the criticisms you have received to bounce back stronger.
Take the opportunity to improve points that you may have overlooked.
This phase where you regain trust in yourself is essential.
Think especially about all the success you have known. Look on the positive side of your passion for photography by thinking back on your favorite words or comments you received.
In general, when you have finished this cycle of introspection, you will manage to find the zeal and the energy to create new interesting photos.
Tip # 20: Comparing Your Work to Others Is Not Always the Right Solution
You may be passionate about the work of other photographers.
Like my own, your library may house dozens of books devoted to known and unknown photographers. They all have in common a remarkable photographic approach that you appreciate.
You may be subscribed to various magazines devoted to wildlife, landscape, or underwater photography. You may be informed of the latest trends of the world of photography.
And yet, when you are stuck without inspiration, I recommend you not immediately run to open these books or magazines.
You are going to make yourself feel awful, as if you are worth nothing because you cannot immediately accomplish the magnificent work others have produced. Comparing your current state to others’ finished masterpieces will further greatly increase your depression.
Quite paradoxically, I recommend that you read these books and these magazines when you are in a refreshed state of artistic inspiration.
Visit the work of other photographers when you are in a healthy mood.
As I have written in the previous paragraph, I recommend that you return to nature to find the energies you need.
To conclude this long article on finding photographic inspiration, I hope these tips will help you when you face a lack of creativity. You are not alone. We all encounter this apathy sooner or later.
Remember that while it is difficult to define inspiration in a practical way and how to find it, there are many ways at your disposal to achieve it.
From experience, I know that inspiration is a state where you are going to need to be free of daily contingencies. If your life is hectic because of mundane tasks, do not hesitate to make it more calm and serene so that you can better arrive in a state of tranquility. Be gentle with yourself. Be honest of your current emotional state.
If your life is crazy, I recommend that you take a retreat and isolate yourself from the monotony and negativity in your normal world so that you can contemplate, dream, and open up to your emotions.
Patience, tenacity, wonder, and empathy allows us to leave your comfort zone behind and embrace the qualities of inspiration needed to create interesting photographic works.