Photography Discussions: Inspiration
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Mrs-Durden's avatar
By Mrs-Durden   |   Watch
3 8 1K (1 Today)
Published: February 14, 2016
For the past year we've been hosting monthly Photography Debates at CRPhotography. However, 12 months later, it seems we've covered most of the 'big' debates, and would be getting too specific if we tried to continue finding new topics. So we're shifting gears: instead of 'debates' we just want to promote a specific discussion for the month. We wanna hear your opinions, engage with you about them, and see you engage with each other as well! So here's a new topic of this transformed series:

Inspiration: Where do you find yours?


  • Tell us about the process by which you find inspiration for your photography!

  • Do you think there is a problem with using other peoples' work as an inspiration for yours? When do we draw the line and say 'plagiarism' is occurring?

  • Is it better to just go out and shoot and hope inspiration will happen on the spot, or plan out ideas before you schedule a shoot?

  • Do ideas/concepts have to be 'new' in order to be interesting or good?

  • Are there 'cliches' you believe should be avoided in photography?


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By popular request, this is a general guideline and application form for those of you who wish to be a GD (Guest Designer) for Anniverse (https://www.deviantart.com/anniverse) For this journal, only applications for Annie designs will be considered. If you are interested in applying to design for creatures in the Anniverse, another journal will be created in the future. Not sure what Anniverse is? Feel free to check out the group! %Anniverse (https://www.deviantart.com/anniverse) We have countless journals about the world, culture, creatures and overall lore. For more in depth questions, please join our Discord. There is also a new category of Guest Designers called Seasoned Guest Designers, which you can check
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Lorelei-Photographie's avatar
Lorelei-PhotographieProfessional Photographer
Inspiration.

I do not think there is anything "better" to do - go out and find inspiration there or plan ideas beforehand. It all depends on each individual and what s/he tries to accomplish. A street photographer better look and find it on the spot. I on the other hand, do a lot of prepared shots for my portraits. Usually, I find an idea, asks someone if they'd be interested, and then we choose a place, clothes, make up necessary for the idea to pass in the image. I used not to, to train just getting nice pictures technically, or nice expressions, but now I feel I'm at a place where I need to focus more on ideas I want to convey.

Where do I find my ideas? Mostly in what I love, or things that touch me, anger me, etc. I love role playing and steampunk look, so I decided to create a project around that. Now for a while I have been thinking about discrimination, so I'lve started to shoot a bit on that too. I usually just think and jolt ideas down in a notebook, first on what I want to say, then on visual means to represent it, and I let it grow until I have a better image in my head before doing any actual shooting. I want to work more on that, I feel like there is to much left to randomness in my pictures still.

I think all the images I see inspire me, but in a more inconscious way. I rarely think, "I love this picture, let's try to do the same" (through I think it's a good exercice, and there is nothing wrong with it as long as we are honest and link to the person's work if we put it online, s/he found the idea and should be credited for that). It's more, "Oh, I love the use of light here, I'm guessing it's so beautiful because they did X, I should try this angle/technique in a portrait". I add it to the list of things I need to work on / try out.

As for new ideas - well. Obviously there are subjects that are more often photographed than others (especially in nature). I think it's okay - we should just photograph what we love, and if it's something a lot of people love to photograph too, there is nothing wrong with that. I do love to see new concepts, because it makes me think and react more. Something I have seen a thousand times, even if the picture is good, will often bore me. There was a point where I just couldn't look at waterdrops and ladybugs anymore, I just felt like they were everywhere. But  I think even the same idea will not be conveyed in the same way by different artists, based on their sensibility. I don't especially try to be original or not, I just try to do what I love.
The-Infamous-PeeGee's avatar
The-Infamous-PeeGeeHobbyist General Artist
Sometimes, it just strikes. More often than not, right out of the blue without warning. I'll see something and think it would make a good photograph.

I do make planned photo outings, or shoots, but seldom with any specific scene in mind. Just kind of see what there is to see, or explore what I can do with the objects I have to hand.

I have a few themed portrait project ideas floating around, also, But no idea where to start in finding suitable subjects to take part in them, or suitable places in which to shoot them.

It's OK to use others' work as inspiration, but it should differ enough so as to be your own work (there are many works on DA which are of Disney characters, for example, but some of them still stand out because they add some new twist, or are executed in a very individual style). And of course sometimes, it's just hard not to make an image which is similar to ones already out there.
hosagu's avatar
hosaguHobbyist Photographer
Well to me I'd say mood. 
And feels.

I love my cams, i love getting out to shot. Though every time it happens, it's because I was hungry about something, or feeling extreme feels and emotions, pushing me to be beyond my limits and observe "abnormally" my environment... Like through a prism of my own craving desire to be human and pushed by my guts.
IGhengisKhanI's avatar
IGhengisKhanIHobbyist Photographer
i guess it very much depends on the kind of photography you do. personally i do mostly nature-photography so i dont interfere with my motives, i just try to find beautiful places (for landscapes) and very rarely interesting angles and positions for closeups/macros.

cheers
pearwood's avatar
pearwoodHobbyist Photographer
It depends on whether one is a taker or a maker. I am much more a taker, finding my inspiration on the fly.
AngelCat3000's avatar
AngelCat3000Hobbyist General Artist

Inspiration is a very interesting and comprehensive topic which doesn’t only applies to photography. And a difficult one, too. It isn’t thinking about something long enough until you have a well-thought-out idea, but rather a brainwave - it comes suddenly and has to catch your attention in a way that it moves your heart. You must can say “Yes, that’s it!” without hesitating to be convinced about it. You have to love the idea, because without the necessary passion you won’t be able to realize it in an impressive way. An idea hasn’t to be new to be interesting or good, it’s about your feelings. Does your mind almost explodes because of the huge amount of sub ideas? Are you looking forward to realize it? Can you be proud of what you’ve done afterwards? Maybe I exaggerate a bit, but nevertheless you need to have a strong emotion when you think of the idea. Most of the time, at least, I can say that from my experience, this idea has to do something with your life.

Let me try to explain this with examples, I hope you don’t see it as advertising or something like this, it’s really just to explain my thoughts better:


The Siberian Squill” is my newest photo at the moment and even though it will just be a tiny, blue flower for most of the people, I’m connected to it with a story of my childhood. Even at this time I was fascinated by the color of this flower. How often do you see something blue in nature? At least, not often where I live and especially not such an electric and seemingly mystical blue. Nature is about warmth, beauty, peace and calmness when we look at plants. And in my childhood I loved to pick those flowers for my parents.

The Last Hope” is a bit older but I still like it. As I walked by some gardens, I discovered this little green leaves in a maze of dead branches. I thought of my past and the difficult situations I had to walk through. I imagined that I was this leaves, alone in the middle of sadness and weakness but I had to stay strong.

That’s what I mean. You have to feel something special and personal.


Of course it isn’t easy to find an idea like this and it’s even harder to give tips for finding inspiration. I think that everybody has its own strategy and has to find it out by oneself. And sometimes, even the own strategy doesn’t work. When I need inspiration I try several things:

In case that I’m just fancy photographing I simply go outside and let me surprise by whatever nature wants to show me. Unfortunately I can often just go the same paths as I did before multiple times because I live in a little village, but nevertheless I come back with some photos. And that I only have two to three photos per walk is absolutely fine for me because then I can be sure that they are important to me. To keep a long story short I would summarized say that I definitely think that going outside without an exact idea can be very helpful. Everybody will have another opinion about that, my art teacher, for example, says that you absolutely can’t go outside without an idea in your mind and expect to shoot good looking photos. I don’t want to boast, but I can. Most of my photos weren’t created with an idea I had before. It can get problematic when you already have an explicit concept for your photo. For example when you want to photograph a person in a particular pose at a particular place. Who is the model? Or who holds the camera, when you are the model? How is the model looking? Where do you want to go? What pose do you want to have? Do you need special equipment or conditions? There will be a lot of questions you have to answer before you can realize your idea. In this case, it’s better to wait until you are ready.

There are also moments at which even going outside doesn’t help me to get inspired. Then I rifle through the whole internet to find something interesting, although it doesn’t really help me to find an idea for a photo. But that’s a personal point, I’m more convinced about an idea when it’s my own. It can be more helpful when I search for an idea for a graphic I want to design or a story I want to write, for example. In my opinion it’s totally okay to use other people’s work to get inspiration because it can mean that you like the basic thought and create a different concept than the original work has. Don’t impale me for saying that it’s even okay for me to copy someones work. I want to explain that more detailed: For me, it’s a big honor when somebody would try to copy what I did. It means that my work has something special, something that the copying person really likes and that he sees a role model in me. When I would have drawn something and a person wants to improve his own skills and takes my drawing to learn a special technique, for example, I have nothing against that as long as he doesn’t pass of the idea as his own and makes it public. I think, copying becomes plagiarism when you publish it. Why should somebody be mad at you for having a drawing at home, for personal reasons, without showing it to the internet or a magazine or whatever? It doesn’t rewards the person with fame or money, maybe only with improved skills and that’s nothing bad I think. I would be even more glad when this person thanks me for indirectly helping him.

Sometimes it can help me to quickly look through books. If a title gives me a brainwave, or the story of a book or maybe just the cover that looks impressing. Of course you need a big bookshelf for that.


Now, the last point - photography cliches. I have to confess that I had to google a bit because I’m not photographing so long that I know a lot of cliches. I wouldn’t say that one of them should be totally avoided. It’s important how you use it. For example I often read “Unnecessary Black and White” and I can agree that you shouldn’t apply a black and white filter on every photo you take, but sometimes it looks more impressive without saturation. What I really can’t like are frames. Most of the time, they seem to constrain the photo. That must sound wird, but a photo needs to breathe. But I’m sure sometimes a frame can look nice, please just don’t make it too big or attention-grabbing.

What really surprised me was the fact that photographing nature (plants, pets, weather) is a cliche on every website I looked at and everybody talked about it in a way like there shouldn’t be nature photos anymore, to express it a bit heavier. I mean I can understand that there is a huge amount of nature photos in the world and that many of them were just taken because the photographer hadn’t another idea, but nature is so beautiful and enchanting that I can’t imagine not photographing it. Nearly my whole gallery consists of nature photos! I don’t want to offend somebody, but I’m not a big fan of architecture photos or photos with people on it, at least, when I have to photograph something like that. It’s just not what I like to do, other ones create great photos which I enjoy looking at, but I have more fun with nature photography.


A very nice topic to talk about. :) I’m looking forward to read other opinions and I’m excited about seeing the progress of this discussion.
Whimsical-Dreams's avatar
Whimsical-DreamsProfessional Photographer
My biggest inspiration sources seem to come from changes in my life, from quitting my day job to becoming a full time photography, to traveling overseas with my partner. Some of my best work, in my opinion, have come from spontaneity. I love exploring new places, forests, beaches, and spend most of my days out in bushland taking photographs of birds. It seems fitting to find inspiration from fleeting moments, like two little birds huddling together. "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished". I live my life by this quote, and it seems to work for me personally.

On another note, I have found inspirations from other photographers, such as Jinky Art Photography. Barb also has amazing PS actions from "Itty Bitty Actions" which, when I first began photography, helped mould my style and thus became "Whimsical Dreams". Though I have my own particular style now, I do visit on occasion to draw inspiration and motivation. I may be mainly a bird photographer by trade, but her style never ceases to impress me.

Plagiarism is something that (I think) comes with a fine line. Ideas & concepts really have no copyright to them, but if there is a piece of art that has been constructed and designed to be almost exactly the same, I think the flattery is cut short. You can, for instance, copy of the idea of a rose on a book (like myself and many others have done), but if it's not a unique photo.. then I think there's a problem. Common cliches can actually be made to more unique, as Daemare suggests, back lighting etc. It just takes a little imagination and creativity to make something more original. That's just my thoughts anyway! :giggle:
Daemare's avatar
DaemareHobbyist Photographer
I like to use cliche`s as my inspiration sometimes. Just take a cliche` and give it a little something extra to make it different. Boring profile shot? Add face paint, colored powder, or black lighting. One of my favorite go-to's is light painting. 
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