Photography or any other creative pursuit requires us to be consistently creative, which means we need to tap into a reliable source of inspiration.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Maybe you’ll find an idea in this article or by looking at what your favorite photographers are doing. The key is to have habits, routines, tricks, and techniques that you can return to as part of a creative practice.
Today I’m going to talk through 6 ways to find inspiration for your photography.
#1. Remember It’s a Practice
The first thing to remember when it comes to finding inspiration is that creativity is a practice. We can’t just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Instead, we have to head out into the storm with a key in hand.
Morning routines are all the rage for a reason, it’s about putting yourself in a position to see inspiration. Inspiration is everywhere, our problem is that we’re too busy, cluttered, stressed, or distracted. Therefore, we need to create a routine that allows us to be in a mindset that’s receptive to creativity.
Additionally, we need to create every day. The difference between the people who create and those who don’t isn’t inspiration. The difference is doing the work, scheduling time to create, and risking making something bad.
#2. Go Back to the Basics
Often we’re looking for something so new and revolutionary that we set the bar too high. The pressure of inspiration can block our vision. When that happens I find it helpful to just go back to the basics.
What are some classic photography techniques that you’ve forgotten about? When was the last time you shot a silhouette or thought about the foreground of your photo? Creativity isn’t necessarily about some brand-new inspiration appearing out of the blue, sometimes it’s about combining the same old things in brand-new ways.
Shoot your subject and then try it a different way. Get closer or further away, switch lenses, drop your shutter speed. These are simple things that are sometimes hard to remember to try.
#3. Set Goal and Learn New Skills
Speaking of making something bad, sometimes you find inspiration by pushing yourself. And sometimes you need to push yourself past your limits or outside of your comfort zone. Where you land might not always be where you want to end up but you’re guaranteed to learn something.
Try a new technique, photography genre, or combination of skills. Set a goal to learn something new and work at it, sometimes that focused commitment is all you need to break out of a creative rut. The new skill might be something that you add to your routine or it might not.
Your goal or skill might include trying out new gear. It might be something like focusing on a specific composition technique. Having something to work on and work towards can be inspiring in both the short term as well as opening up possibilities for things you’ll be capable of in the future.
#4. Draw From Other Outlets
Another way to break out of a creative rut is to branch outside of your genre, specialty, or industry. Draw inspiration for your photography from your favorite musicians or food or even books that don’t have any pictures. What are the stories or experiences that you connect with, if you can identify why they inspire you, you can use that in your work.
Think about your values and your interests, how do you spend your time and your money? What are the things you are interested in and passionate about? Then, find connections and links between those things and your photography.
Sometimes powerful photography connects with us on a deeper level because the image was created from a complex idea. Complex ideas might be as simple as connecting two dots that you haven’t thought about connecting previously.
#5. Get Outside and Move Your Body
When all else fails, just get outside and move your body. We all know that fresh air and exercise are good for us but I’ll mention it anyway. It’s good for our health, happiness, and creativity too.
Maybe a walk in nature will help you destress so that you can connect the dots of a creative problem you’re trying to solve. You might need to think about the problem or let yourself rest and focus on something else entirely. A focused workout might lead you back to your work refreshed.
One of the things I love about nature is the countless lessons that surround us. There are tiny stories everywhere that speak to us through all of our senses. If you can’t get outside, look for a change in environment or find ways to alter the one you have with some sounds, scents, or sights.
#6. Consume or Disconnect
This next one is an either-or. Depending on your state of mind you might need to consume inspiration from other sources. Or you might need to disconnect from content overload.
Notice how you feel when you follow photographers on social media and try to stay up with what everyone is doing. Is it inspiring and giving you new ideas? Or are you feeling drained by the constant comparison and information overload?
Different people have different opinions on access to constant connectivity. My recommendation is to be intentional. Make it a choice based on what feels helpful and healthy.
About the author: Brenda Bergreen is a Colorado wedding photographer, videographer, yoga teacher, and writer who works alongside her husband at Bergreen Photography. With their mission and mantra “love. adventurously.” they are dedicated to telling adventurous stories in beautiful places.