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 Post subject: Sources of Inspiration
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:38 am 
So while waiting on my new Sony body and lens I wanted to go out shooting today, but the weather (and flooding) didn't permit it (Have a couple of weddings coming up, so not worth the risk of destroying my camera, even though my backup body is on the way).

So, rather than "waste" the day, I decided to go around and find some inspiration for new images to capture.

The definition of inspiration varies but I look at it as something that motivates me to do something different and to step out of habit and familiarity. After being "inspired" I usually find my pictures to be more enjoyable (to me anyways) and some of the pictures that I'm most proud of are the ones that I take with a specific goal in mind and with a strong visual image already drawn in my head.

These are some of the places I generally find inspiration (in no particular order):

- The bookstore (go around browsing covers and pages for images)
- The fabric store (I always find some pattern I've never seen before)
- Magazines (not so much photography, but lifestyle, music, etc.)
- Photo education sites (Luminous landscape, strobist, photography-now)
- Art galleries (few and far between)
- The local food market (very fond of the market...but it is quite dangerous to use my A300 there, robbers aplenty!)
- Album covers (some of these things amaze me to no end)

So, what's your definition of inspiration, where do you find it and do you even need it?

Also, does your equipment, or choice of equipment limit you in terms of being inspired? I often read that rangefinders are ideal for street shooting, so, if you felt like shooting street, but your camera was less than ideal (a hulking big A900), would you pass on the idea all together or would you make lemonade. Guess what I'm asking here is if your inspiration is contextual or are you inspired to do something photographic regardless of if you have the ability and maybe even the resources to do it?

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:01 am 
Hi primitive,

personally I take inspiration mostly from movies and paintings. By that, I mean this is where I deliberately seek inspiration. Also from drawings/comic books.

I also tend to peruse a LOT of pictures in general on image-sites.

As I don't really enjoy landscape photography (although I love looking at other people's amazing work with landscapes), my constraints are mostly people and time.

Cheers :-)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:04 am 
I take inspiration from you guys! youre giving me here some words to inspire with Thasnkyou! 8)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:36 am is pretty good. The photos on there have been through an editorial process so they're much better than your typical flickr photo.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 2:15 pm is awesome! Only submitted one image before, but got some really really good feedback. I fully recommend it!

@lahlahsr: Yes, movies do go a long way. Particularly small independent movies. I also like Japanese anime...I find the stylistic lighting (check out ninja scroll where they fight in the bamboo forest!) to be very attractive and compelling. I need to try it one day.

@lomer18: You ok? I see your part of the world is getting some really nasty weather and natural disasters.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:30 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:40 pm
Posts: 87
Location: The Netherlands
Inspiration, hmmmm.....

I guess, I take my inspiration from everyday life. But it's not something that I' m consciously aware of. I take pictures of things I like, and things I want to remember and show to others. I guess I want to show my vision of the world around me :) is a nice site, but to call it awesome would be a bit too much. I really dislike the editorial process, because it leeds to a very narrow view of what good photography is. If you take a look at the pictures. You'll see that it's a pretty homogeneous set of pictures. All those pictures could've been taken by a hand-full of people.
But it's just my point of view.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:38 pm 
Valid point. You do get that overlord feeling. But, as I said, only submitted one photograph and I did get some constructive criticism, and I think this particular photo benefited from it. I guess tastes vary, which adds much spice to life :lol:

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 1:30 am 
Long Read, Beware!!!!

Been doing some reading and of all things that I have been reading, it's books on art and sound. Strange, why would someone write a book about art and sound? Its peculiar and strange! Why not publish an audiobook or a coffee table book filled with intriguing pictures?

You might think to yourself, well, these books are describing the science of sound and the geometry of art, but they have nothing about least not from a rigid scientific sense.

I think these books are the kinds of books that give you the "why should I" and not the "how can I". And, fundamentally they are polar opposites in thought and are part of an entire process. "Why should I" do something must always come before "How can I" do something.

How does this relate to photography? Personally, I find myself obsessive over the technical aspects of photography, not only f-stops and shutter speed, but also composition and lighting. I try to make a picture "interesting" but in the end they end up as pretty pictures that are lifeless. Many may disagree, but I think to a large degree that these aspects of photography are technical. They are the means to an ends and nothing more. They are only important in the moment it took to decide on them, and then after that, it is the photograph that lives on. Only photographers care "how" it was done, and nobody else.

Basically, I think I know (more or less) "How" to take a picture, but every time I press the shutter, do I understand "Why" I'm doing it? What is my aim, what am I trying to achieve with that specific frame? In essence, what's the point!

Unfortunately, I don't think that I do! And I hazard a guess that most photographers don't know either (from amateurs to pros). Its a complicated thing to explain, but just like writing a book about music, I think a photograph should be explained in the minds eye before it is made. Your capture should have intent and purpose which is what drives its entire "existence".

Impractical, probably, but often times people see the work of a chosen few and think, wow, their awesome and take the completely wrong approach and try to mimic without understanding "why" the picture is great. Most people (i'm no different) will say well its the composition, and the lighting and these do play a huge role in the final output...but you will sometimes hear someone say things like moment, drama, passion and intensity, expression. Sounds cheesy, but these are what I think make photos great.

Do a test: When you think of the best photographers of all time, whose name pops in your head? Is it Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, Henri Cartier-Bresson? Be honest with yourself, can you even remember trying to find some of these photographers best work? Did you ever try to track down their portfolio? Have you ever sat and studied their work and wondered "why" rather than "how"? I fail on all accounts, in fact, I found these names on a website and I have no idea if their any good or not. I've never seen an Ansel Adams picture and looked at it critically (not modern day critically...oh, I would have brightened here a little, maybe he could have cropped tighter.), but really critically...why does this picture need to be preserved and seen by others? What makes this picture important enough for me to stop what I'm doing and look at it?

Maybe it would do some good to step away from the camera and look at a scene and see where the great photo is, if any, and if it is worth the time of capturing.

My shooting style can be described as shoot and ask questions later. I don't pause to put cause in my actions. Instead I see something, I know how I want to capture and then I capture another soulless image damned to live on my harddrive unappreciated. Sure, if you're being paid to take pictures of an event or product, you had better damn well take the picture! But, most of us, control what we take pictures of and if we want to take a picture or not.

Sure you need to know "How" to take a picture (how to compose, light, etc), clearly you need to know how to do that. But you also need to know "Why" you take it. I'm not advocating not taking as much pictures as possible, but rather take as much pictures as possible with a purpose behind it.

And the good thing is, as long as you sincerely appreciate the picture for what it is and for the reasons behind it, then others will appreciate it too and maybe someday you will elevate from the ranks of ordinary photographer, to a legendary photographer who knows what he/she wants and how to get it.

The Zen of Photography.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:15 am 
Hi primitive,

you raise some very interesting thoughts there. I've found myself thinking along the same lines the last year or so - and it always comes down to the "why" of it..the "why" behind an image.

A good 15.000 shots within the last 2 years have left me with no definite answer. At least when it comes to certain types of photography.

When it comes to portraits/people shots, the "why" to me is evident. I know I want to capture something expressive that represent the person(s) I'm shooting...or portray them in a situation/activity the explains itself, that is either aesthetically appealing or interesting.

When it comes to still life, I usually go by pure visual interest and tension...colors, texture, lines..and that is a more "intuitive" interpretation. It works if it works for me - it's a feeling of interest in the picture.

With landscapes I am completely lost. There is not one single landscape I've ever taken, that I am truly happy with. Happy, defined as "yeah, this I want to hang on my wall". Funny thing is, that I feel exactly the same way about everyone else's landscapes. An oddity, since i love being IN the landscapes, love experiencing them and seeing them. I feel like I should abandon landscape imagery altogether, but I keep shooting tehm anyway, with (little) hope that I might land one I am happy with.

When I try to find the answer to the elusive "why" of things...perhaps a "formula" or at least some sort of guideline for what makes a picture interesting, I tend to look at a LOT of images. By known and unknown artists. Deviant art is a great place for me. I don't care about how famous the photographer is, I think guys like Ansel Adams and all the others, have some really great shots and lot of "meh" shots in my book. It works better for me to see a large variety of shots.

What tells me I'm an "amateur" is that the shots of mine, I like the best, are not super planned out. I see something that visually attracts me, shoot it fairly quick, having that feeling that "this one is going to be good". Then I take another 5 just to be sure I covered it. Invariably the first one is the

If I have a point here, it is that - for me anyway - it's more of an emotional decision, rather than rational design, that produce my own best shots. I'm not ignoring the technical aspects, but the technicalities have the same place in my mind that my legs hae when I ride a bike, if that makes sense.

Masterful technique can produce some visually pleasing shots. That's the "craft"..not just knowing, but actually designing the settings, angles, light, composition etc. and achieve something close to what you have pre-visualized. The ART however, is something a lot less "rational" in my opinion. It's something that flows from a more emotional well, if you will.
Nourishing and inspiring that, takes some commitment to be in touch with one's own emotions. It's hard to put words to, without being a poet, but I stand by the perspective.

To "practice" the "art" of it, I occasionally try to commit to try and capture a number of images that translate into an emotion and apply it to all sorts of photography as a training exercise. Not just portraiture/people shots, but still life as well.

I find that it slowly brings me closer to being able to apply some desinged approach to a specific image I want to capture.

..but I have a long ways to go still and it does not..not even a little me in the realm of landscape

Cheers :-)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:49 am 
primitive wrote:
@lomer18: You ok? I see your part of the world is getting some really nasty weather and natural disasters.


You mean this wheather i take the shot after the heavy rain and flood... i kinda thinkin where is the other pictures i got i lost it in my pc i save it some where in my PC...
i really pray for those people in a verry low lands they suffer alot!
i don't think those city's and provinces can recover for years easily...

but anyway thanks for the concern we truely have a family here :)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 2:57 am 
Back from the dead; oh no it's a zombie thread! :lol:

Anyways, I've been reading "Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision" by David DuChemin for about 1 week now, and it's been everything I hoped it was and a lot more!

The author describes the book as a "why to" book as opposed to a "how to" book and its basically what I felt was missing (to some extent) in my next step in the journey to become better at photography.

It doesn't go into any technical details, but focuses entirely on developing your vision and the things that you can do to take more compelling photographs (and he backs this up with some awesome photos in the book as well, which really drive home the point).

He also talks a lot about simplifying the frame and drives home the point that nothing should be in the frame unless you (the photographer) include it in the frame. To me, that's a profound way to think and probably the only way to think if you want to improve. It empowers you to stop making excuses. If something is in (or not in) the frame that makes the picture un-compelling, then no one is to blame but you.

Another aspect that really struck a note with me was his point that you don't need an exotic subject to capture a compelling photograph and describes that as the "low hanging fruit" of photography (its best to check out the book for explanations about this, but I fully agree). I've made similar excuses that nothing interesting/exotic is happening and that's why my photos look blah, but its not the subject matter that's blah, its me. This is something that I now understand, but not very good at explaining, so you'll have to take a look at the book itself if you need more.

You can checkout a nice preview of the book over at

The sequel to this book is VisionMongers: Making a Life and a Living in Photography and essentially deals with the mental aspects of making a living from photography. It will be my next purchase for sure, maybe for the holidays.

*** Now that I think of it, this thread has absolutely nothing to do with Sony, sorry again!!!! ***

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