October 19, 2009

What Inspires You?

What inspires you?  What gets your creative juices flowing or just gets you out the door?

I would really benefit from hearing what does it for you, because it just might work for me too.  We all go through periods of stagnation, where we doubt our abilities or worry that we’ve got no more in us.

What causes this?  Human nature I suppose.

Something I do is to listen to the Beatles, they were one of only a few groups that didn’t stuck in a “success” rut.  They kept changing and evolving even if it meant abandoning a successful formula.  They were not afraid to risk change.

How about you?  Just thinking about this question will be therapeutic and posting it will help myself and others.


23 thoughts on “What Inspires You?

  1. What moivates me?
    When an unsolicited and unexpected comment praises my images.
    When I open fresh images on my computer and see more than I thought I would.

  2. During these wonderful fall days here in north central Texas, the weather is my biggest inspiration. I feel so good during this time of year. The idea of getting out to make a photograph is overpowering. It’s good to be alive kinda feeling! That’s when I bring home some winning images.

  3. It always seems to be a struggle to “get out the door”. There are so many other obligations pulling at me. However, once I get myself out there I am in flow and can be out for hours. It is my spiritual place and a place of solitude for me. Your web site and other web sites of photographers also work. I particularly like your blog spot.

  4. Going to an art museum to view good art (not necessarily photography–paintings and sculpture inspire me too) and perusing photography magazines like LensWork and B&W get my creative juices flowing. It gets me in a different frame of mind conducive to creativity. I don’t think it dictates my style (your fear of such activities) but rather turns control of my left dominant brain over to the right side for a while so I see thinks differently.

  5. Sometimes, just putting the camera down for a few days and looking at other peoples’ work. And know, too, that photography isn’t always going to work for you on days when maybe nothing does, anyway. Some days are like that.

    I started a group on flickr for just the best, or just the best as I saw them, http://www.flickr.com/groups/danceswithlights/ so that I could reward photographers for their work. My plan is to comment extensively why an image sings to me, a longer comment than just one that says “Nice image”. I remain sole Admin so to control what comes in and to control work load on those I invite. A by-product of that group is my being able to look at new and good images and see what I can do to match that level of expertise.

  6. I agree about Eileen and just getting out the door. Sometimes that is all that is needed. And looking at the work of others, well that can inspire, or sometimes, cause the block. So I find that tricky. Better for me to look at work outside the medium of photography sometimes.

    But, Cole, what you said about the Beatles, is something that my family and I have been talking about. They did constantly push the envelope of their own work. BUT…it is much easier to do that once you have already reached a certain level of sucess where your public are willing to take the risk with you. And your able to tell your backers…this is what I want to do and if you don’t fund it I will. That is just what they did. Most of us don’t have that kind of luxury. So we continue to slog away…

    So we find the balence between what sells, what inspires us and our work has to evole accordingly. That tension can also make it difficult to get out there and just do! We put up our own blocks….they are the hardest to push through.

    So I think there are actually two points to be thought about. What do you do to get yourself motivated just to work…and what CAN you do to inspire yourself to take the work even further?

  7. Here’s another question I have. I was raised somehow to believe that hardship and trials made an artist create great art. But I hear from so many people, and I’ve experienced it a little bit myself, that when your life is in disarray the last thing you can think about is getting out and being creative.

    Do you have the same reaction to stress and pressure? Or does hardship get you out there creating your best work?

  8. You mean….starving, frozen is a garrett makes for better art. NO…thought, feeling and hard work make better art. I do not believe you have to suffer for your art. Or that art that comes only from adversity is of value. We all have hidden depths to plumb.

    I work best from a calm place. Stress makes me make mistakes cause I get impatient in the darkroom. Although, if I am under stress, getting out and shooting can be very theraputic.

    I have this great postcard on my darkroom door…it is a photo of a woman in a studio sitting on a stool, in the background are a maid and butler…The text says…”Who says an artist has to suffer”! That says it all.

  9. I follow my interests, and photograph them. Sounds simplistic, but that is what puts me in my creative zone. I have to be interested in the subject, or it doesn’t work for me. Sometimes I discover interests while photographing, but more often I have a subject and specific site in mind when I head out the door. I tend to work in projects anyway, rather than shoot randomly, so this works for me. Once out shooting, I often find unrelated subjects that inspire new projects, or that are strong enough images to stand on their own.

  10. I let me inspire when I listen too music, I can sit still for a very long time and just listen, and make my inside picture. I really like to hear music of Jan Garbarek and Nils Petter Molvær, they make just dream music. I think that this kind of music can bee translated into my picture that I make. Jan

  11. Dear Cole, how nice to find that we have a very common interest (music of The Beatles). Music is the prescription cure-all for me. It has been my passion since childhood. I need it not when I want to get up and get out, but when I need to get down to a big project inside my home, even routine cleaning. I fill the CD carousel, crank it up LOUD, and I work like a Trojan until my chore is done, or I’m pooped, one of the two. I (we – my husband and I) have that commonality as well. We listen to music all the time .. whether we are reading the Sunday Newspaper (where we listen to the “Jazz” channel on XM Radio turned down to a soft low, “Smooth Jazz” while driving around together, rock if I’m driving alone or one of my custom cds of music I love where I crank it up and sing wildly – people must look at me and think I’m crazy – I don’t care, I’m having fun with me.

    I am not as creative as some, though I do like to write, and what possessed me to write what I think is a good post on my blog today but a song that I heard. Please visit and give it a read and a listen.

    Blessings all around!

  12. P.S. Man, you have a serious blog here, Cole; copyrights and all. I’m impressed! Who’s your host, may I ask? You can email me if you’d rather. Have a wonderful evening and love to the family.

  13. Hey! Well I have to admit I am in a low inspiration mood at the moment but I guess what always makes it for me is going into one of these places wher people can’t see you (airport, stations etc..) and look at them interacting…and one of my favouire moment for photos is the sun after the rain!!(and thanks for reminding me about your blog in the newsletter:)

  14. There are steps everyone has to take, that causes one to leaving their current frame of mind and opening or reenergize the creative side of one’s self.
    To be Inspired and to be motivated are the first two steps. I find that sometimes I get ‘Inspired’ but lack the drive or ‘motivation’ to execute. Then some times it is the other way around, I up and running, but nothing is clicking. The Arts do this to all who care to participles in the challenges of self or creative expression.
    For me sometimes it is picking a project (a concept which I learn from you Cole), and then sometimes the creative side opens up after I decide to work on a different approach, using the camera or lighting (or what ever). For example working at improving how I address dynamic range within a shot, but using different aperture settings or using a light meter instead of the camera’s metering system.
    In simple terms, the desire to do something different or to improve your skills in the tools I use.
    They work hand in hand for me. I have a vision but my skills might not be strong enough, to make it work.

  15. It’s amazing that we all go through the same creativity challenges.

    It’s also been pointed out a couple times that perhaps there are really two challenges: feeling creative and getting out the door.

    I am more challenged with getting out the door, life is just so busy.

  16. I am inspired by two things in particular. My children and my memories. I use photography to capture time passing by and to project my memories. I am also inspired by other photographers, music and life in general. I have learnt to put the camera down sometimes just so I can observe, contemplate and learn.

  17. I find that Shaun’s answer is pretty close to my means for getting inspired and out the door. He said “… often I have a subject and specific site in mind when I head out the door. I tend to work in projects anyway, rather than shoot randomly, so this works for me. Once out shooting, I often find unrelated subjects that inspire new projects, or that are strong enough images to stand on their own.”

    I also definitely stumble onto fresh subjects that offer a whole new direction for the day or a project. My “projects” are sometimes just later realizations about what I have been shooting without having had that conscious direction when I started. It seems that some force leads me to gather more images within the “project” with an almost unrecognized inspiration floating in me somewhere.

    I also travel a lot around the US and that never fails to get me out because who wants to sit in a hotel room? (… rain or shine)

    There is such an amazing diversity of subjects and places in this country (no matter where you are). If it’s a new place, then I’ll be inspired by something I’ve never seen before. And even if I’m returning to a place, the light is different this time and even the same subject will re-inspire me.

    I just wish I could get the discipline to always have my camera with me… can’t seem to get that through my head!

  18. I am inspired when I see emotions. They are anywhere, everywhere.. an elderly man going straight to obituaries in the newspapers at breakfast,a boy with an ipod stuck in his ears sitting the playground, in my mom’s kitchen, a single baby shoe on the street, airports, pictures of friends that are far away from me n their family.. all these make great inspiration to me..

  19. I am inspired if I am able to leave the day to day world behind and free my mind to truly see what is around me. When that happens I find that my surroundings continually inspire me no matter where I am. If that has not happened, nothing is inspiring. I try to become as technically proficient as possible so that it becomes second nature, leaving my mind to focus on what it sees rather than camera settings. What triggers this visual freedom? Many times it is something in my surroundings that really stands out and pulls my mind away. It might be an unusual sky, lighting, composition, color or face. Often looking at the work of others inspires me because I see what is possible if I learn to see and learn my craft. I find that a well written sentence that describes a typical scene in a very unusual way inspires me…why can’t I learn to photograph that in the same way the writer saw and described it.

    I will close with the observation that we all suffer from a lack of creativity or inspiration at times. In the past, this could have a self-perpetuating effect on me because I would struggle to “break out” of it by forcing myself to make images, only to be further disappointed. Having gone through this so many times and always found that it will end if I just let it, I no longer struggle. I simply accept it and focus on other interests. When I am ready, the stimulus is always there around me and I am off again!

    As always, thanks for the stimulating blog and images Cole.

  20. It really gets me going once I see some great artwork that I know don’t have the skills yet to match it level. My adrenaline rushes in and pushes me to study and I will not stop until I could be at par with the creator of that artwork.

  21. Bloodrhane: I think there is a difference too, in becoming like another artist or becoming as good or skillful as they are.

    I see everywhere skilled photographers who merely copy Kenna or another photographer. Yes, that takes skill, but it doesn’t take creativity and isn’t that what art is about?

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