Inspiration is such an interesting subject, and one of the reasons why? In my opinion, it’s because we miss a lot of what there is to be inspired by. Looking at the photographs of others is a prime example. I’ll be willing to bet that much like me, most people do the same. We look at photographs of others for the artistic inspiration. Perhaps there are techniques within them that we’d like to learn, or maybe we’re getting ideas for our own photographs. It could be that we’re admiring colors, compositions and so on. Aside from the simple enjoyment of art, this is one of the primary reasons to look at photographs or study a historic photographer’s body of work.
There are other, untouched ways to look at inspiration, however. Just think of all the things that go into photography. Marketing is a great example of this. It’s part and parcel with getting our imagery out into the world. Chances are, if you’re admiring another photographer’s work, it’s because they’ve done something to publicize that work and put it in front of your eyes. We can be inspired by the marketing tactics of other photographers as much as we can be inspired by the work that they produce.
Work ethic and devotion is another place to take inspiration from. Unfortunately, there exists a subset of people who believe that photography is the “easy” way to make art because we’re not wielding pens and brushes—simply pressing a button. But as any photographer who has spent time composing and processing knows, there is so much to this art form, much that we have to learn. All of that takes a lot of hard work and devotion—and when we’re feeling down, we can take inspiration from the hard work and devotion of other photographers.
Formal education or the lack thereof can be another source of inspiration. Some aspire to go to school for photography—and that’s a laudable goal. Let the photographers who have gone before you lead the way and inspire you to get the education. Others among us may not have the time or the money to pursue a four-year degree. There’s nothing wrong with learning photography anyway, and there are plenty of famous photographers without art degrees who prove to us that this path is perfectly possible, too.
It’s not just the photography that can inspire us. Leadership, work ethic, marketing strategies, even the aspirations of other photographers are all things that can inspire us. There are many places to take inspiration and many areas in which we can be inspired to do more. And, to be truthful, not all of these wells of inspiration must be photographers. Artists of all kinds can inspire us so long as they are people held of principles that we might like to apply to our photography.