Inspiration: Storytelling with Photos Part 5

Finding Inspiration

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

“Silent Night over the Rhone” Vincent Van Gogh

Green Night Leonid Afremov

“Sunset on the Seine at Lavaco” Claude Monet

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.


Star Launch, Oceanside California

                                                      Bridge at Courtland California

Sacramento River Putting on the Pink

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  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

Opportunity!  Oh, and just to let you know, Lightfinder Photography is offering 20% off on any purchase from our galleries here for the months of October and November.  We are celebrating the opening of this site.  Follow the menu at the top of this page to get into the Featured or Collections galleries.  Click on the photo you like for a price list.   Then use coupon code Intro20 at checkout. Christmas is coming!

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  1. Art. Cobb 11/18/2017 at 9:22 pm #

    Enjoyed reading your 5 blog writings. I was inspired by your presentation at the photo club as well as your blog writings. I truly need to find my passion and photographic story. I have enjoyed your heart in your photography. Thanks for sharing you with us.

    Art Cobb

  2. Art Cobb 11/18/2017 at 9:32 pm #

    This may be a duplicate post. Forgive me if it is. Just wanted to let you know your ‘story photography’ does inspire me. I realize that I really need to identify my passion in photography and pursue and develope it. Thanks for sharing your heart and who you are through photography.

    Art Cobb

  3. Constance 11/19/2017 at 8:56 am #

    I’ve always loved your work, Doug Bailey! I have to say, I believed your “light finder” theme had a dual meaning…literally finding those beautiful, amazing, luminous scenes drenched in sunlight as well as finding THE LIGHT (Jesus).

  4. Maureen Rueffer 11/20/2017 at 8:52 am #

    Wow Doug! It’s really great!! and your photographs look amazing too!

  5. Toni Encheff 11/22/2017 at 8:42 am #

    I loved reading your journey into the visual arts, Doug. I have always loved Monet too. Interesting that I love the impressionistic music composers too. Their music seems like filtered light

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