In my last few posts I shared about how important it is to shoot from your heart if you want to have memorable photos. That is of course Job One for any storytelling photographer. But if you don’t have a great natural eye for composition, no worries. A bit of inspiration can go a long way toward telling your story. Let me start with my own inspiration and then finish up with some practical ways to find your own inspiration.
What Inspires Me
First, it started with Light
Light! It catches my eye and ignites my imagination. Good light inspires me to get out the door to shoot. Great light positively excites me.
Light is of course essential to a photograph. But there is light, and there is LIGHT. I sought out luminous and filtered light, and when I found it I stopped and experimented with settings and filters. Above is one of my very early concept photos I took while trying to find my story. I wasn’t able to afford hiring a model so I used myself with a shutter delay to give me time to run into the photograph. Just to see how the light worked. There are a few compositional and post processing errors here, but my story was already clear in my mind. And that shows. After settling on my story it was just a matter of practice, practice, practice, and merciless self critique.
Learn from the Masters:
In my case it was not master photographers I learned from, but rather impressionist artists, like Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh, and the modern impressionist artist Leonid Afermov
Finding my creative artistic passion late in life, I never had the advantage of art education. I mean zip, zero, nada. But I was always moved by Impressionist Art, particularly Claude Monet and his treatment of light in his paintings. And who could walk past Van Gogh with just a casual glance! And the life and colors of an Afermov grabed my attention every time. But rather than go to my local junior college to take art classes I thought;
“If art masters take the time to set up an easel and then spend hours or days (or years) on a single scene, then there must be something compelling that kept them there. Hmmm, maybe I can figure it out just by studying their works”
I found a little app on my iPad called “Art Authority” that allowed me to watch slideshows of different artists. I would dial in Impressionist Artists and then would watch a slideshow as I fell asleep. Fo the first few slides I would try to figure out why each scene works so well. But eventually I would drift off to sleep with the art kind of entering my subconcious.
That was my base to launch my own style with photography. Seriously! But I took that base and used it to build a style of my own. And I have shot scenes similar to all three of the photos above. Not intentionally trying to recreate their work, and certainly not in the South of France (though that is a dream of mine.) But check out the shots below and you can see that the influence is there for sure.
By the way, I still pull up the app from time to time, just to stay in touch.
So, as promised, if you do not yet have your own inspiration and story, here are a few ways to spark that creative gene within you.
Ways to find your inspiration
Read and study photo blogs
Visit art galleries, either photo or other art medium
Hang out with creative photographers, go shooting and pick their brains
Join a photo club
Look at your old CD or Album covers
Find and shoot a beautiful model
Practice your personal favorite style, say Street Photography
Try a different style, say Abstract Photography
Take some creative selfies
Try some shooting in the dark
Try shooting the same subject five different ways
Shoot the passing seasons from the same spot
Think of a favorite poem or story and interpret it with a series of photos
Travel with a camera
Check out popular photographers websites
Meet new people, listen to their stories, then ask permission to take their photo
Know who you are and always shoot your own story
I could continue but by now you should have a few ideas percolating. And if you need a bit of help, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to give a bit more personal advice. If you want to take the next step and are in the San Diego to Temecula area, I am available for private or group sessions.
There are a couple of more blogs I am planning for this series on Storytelling. More tips and some nuts and bolts on composition, framing and processing. I post every Friday afternoon at 5:00 PST. If you would like to subscribe to this blog site
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