Today on The Slanted Lens I’m going to answer a question I get asked all the time, and that is “how do I stay inspired?” I struggle with this question all the time myself! It’s something I really have to overcome when I’m trying to come up with an idea for a new shot, when I’m trying to come up with an idea for a lesson.
1 Keep A Sketchbook
The #1 suggestion I would give to anyone who’s asking me how to stay inspired, is to keep a sketchbook. This has probably been one of the most important things that I have done throughout my entire career, and that is to sketch things I would like to shoot, things that inspire me, things that I just think are interesting.
Keeping a sketchbook helps you keep all of these ideas in one place and then when you are looking for inspiration you can go back to that sketchbook and look through the pages.
2 Make a Folder on Your Desktop for Visuals
If you don’t want to keep a sketchbook, create a folder on your computer’s desktop and start putting images in that folder all the time of things that inspire you and get you excited. Take pictures from films, take pictures from art, anything that sparks an idea, and then when you are looking for inspiration, you can always go back through that folder.
3 Watch a Movie
Watch a really great movie that has rich visuals. I really like the Tom Hanks movie “Road to Perdition”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. There are so many amazing movies out there, but watch them with the sound off! Sketch in your sketchbook, and it’ll help get your creative juices flowing.
4 Go See Art
Go to museums, art collections and just sit in a quiet room and make sketches of what you’re thinking, things you’d like to shoot, your work and how it relates to your imagery. It’s a really great way to look at things around you, get that input and make sketches. Then later on, you’ll be able to go back through those sketches and it’ll remind you of what you were feeling and inspire new ideas.
5 Go To Photo Exhibits
There is nothing more inspiring than seeing a great collection of photography, see what other people are doing and especially vintage collections. While there, take notes, make some sketches and remind yourself later to follow through and create!
6 Watch Music Videos
I love music videos because it’s just a rich visual experience, one right after another, and it gets me excited.
7 Photo or Video Conferences
Go to photo or videoconferences like WPPI, Shutter Fest or Photo Plus! There are so many great conferences out there where you can hear speakers, you can see great work, and a lot of the PPA has images being judged. I used to not want to be a part of that, but I have actually found being there in person and being a part of the community to be really inspiring.
8 Join a Photo Club
Find a photo club or group in your area! That’s a great way to be inspired because when you go to their meetings you hear them speak, see their work, and get involved it will expand your knowledge and challenge you to make more!
9 Get Out in Nature
Visit a national park or take a hike! When I’m out in nature like that I feel so inspired, I start to write in my sketchbook and get so excited about the things that I can do and that I want to do. Write them down or you’ll forget about them. When I was with Cheyne Walls out in Zion National Park I was so inspired and I couldn’t wait to get back to LA to start working on all of the new ideas!
10 Look at Great Illustrations
Illustrators paint light and a lot of times they chose more contemporary types of topics so I love looking at their work. CA has an illustration annual that comes out every year that I always flip through and get inspired by.
So the short answer to “how do I stay inspired?” I keep feeding the creative machine with creative things and that keeps me wanting to shoot and as I do, I feel inspired.
Keep those cameras rolling and keep on shooting!