22 Ways To Find Inspiration


How do I find inspiration?
Let me count my ways.

1             Walk in nature
2             Visit a new place
3             Plan a future trip
4             Read
5             Listen to music
6             Watch movies
7             Look at artwork
8             Review my finished images
9             Review my unfinished images
10           Make new images spontaneously
11            List new creative things to try
12           Try something new creatively
13           Sketch ideas
14           Free associate
15           Brainstorm
16           Meditate
17           Daydream
18           Dream
19           Play like/with a child

How do you find inspiration?
The next time that doesn’t work, try one (or more) of these things.

I recommend you practice some or all of these things regularly.
Don’t wait to run dry.
Keep yourself overflowing all the time.

Find more resources on Creativity here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Continuity


Continuity. Every screenwriter needs to create it. Every storyboard needs to interpret it. Every director needs to guide it. Every editor needs to refine it. If you’re a still photographer, you may be called to do all of these things.
Continuity lies at the heart of the art of storytelling. The types of images selected and the transitions made between images presented in groups can be powerful tools for visual communication. Sequences can provide useful comparisons and contrasts between separate images and their contents. They set a pace and rhythm for looking. Carefully orchestrated they can create the illusion of moving in time forward or backward, linearly or non-linearly. They can be used in extremely creative ways. The best sequences make images clearer, more meaningful, and more moving.
Photographers can use continuity to guide and structure initial explorations on site; use a storyboard as a checklist to make sure no angle goes uncovered. Photographers can use continuity to find missing gaps or resolve challenging transitions in ongoing projects; update a storyboard and find the out what you’ve got too much of and what you don’t have enough of or find a bridges to connect disparate images. Photographers can use continuity to edit, sequence, and present existing work more effectively; fine tune a story in sophisticated and compelling ways; there are many possible solutions.
There are many classic strategies for sequencing images and creating transitions between them.
Persistence
Pans
Zooms
Fades
Numbers
Cuts
Include continuity in your work and you’ll find you’ll be able to solve many more visual challenges in many more ways and make the reception of your work more effective and powerfully felt. Once you understand what the many possibilities are and how they work, you can be extremely creative with them. Some artists have even been celebrated more for their use of continuity than their singular images. Continuity is so powerful that it can be an art in and of itself.
Read more on AfterCapture.
Learn more about storytelling here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Give Yourself License to Sing

Self_Sing
Recently, I was leading a workshop in Joshua Tree National Park. We’d come to a place called White Tank for evening light. Perched high on a cliff, I looked down into the surrounding valley and saw a young woman wandering through magnificent boulders and fabulous cacti. She was drifting slowly, almost aimlessly through the scene with her right hand raised in the air – singing. As the sound drifted through the sun drenched evening air, I couldn’t tell if she was singing a children’s song or an African chant. She was utterly unselfconscious and seemed completely absorbed in the moment. Her moment helped me appreciate my own more. I wondered, “Why we don’t all give ourselves more license to sing?” Children do it. Adults often don’t. We compare ourselves to professional singers.We grow self-conscious. We become silent. We forget to sing. What if we spontaneously sang more? Would we come to know our voices better? What if we allowed ourselves become completely absorbed in the moment more frequently? Would we appreciate the passing of each moment more? Would we find ourselves appreciating the things around us more? Why wouldn’t we do these things? Are the reasons we give ourselves for not doing these things as helpful as the reasons we can find for doing them? Why not sing more? What is the truest sound for this moment? Go ahead. Make a noise. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be real.
Find more inspiration in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more in my Digital Photography Workshops.

Talk To Yourself

Talk_to_Self
Talk to yourself. Don’t worry, it’s not crazy. We all do it. Speaking your mind can help you become clearer about what’s on it. It’s your choice, whether you decide to speak your mind silently in your head or speak your mind out loud, either alone or under the right circumstances in the presence of others. No one ever has to know how much you talk to yourself; they rarely know how much they talk to themselves. Everyone has an ongoing internal dialog. We see things, we hear things, we feel things, we do things, we react, and all the while we interpret what we’re experiencing. It takes years of training not to do this. Most of the time, we’ve become so accustomed to the familiar voice inside of us that we’re often unaware of what’s being said and who’s saying it. It seems natural to us. That’s just the way it is. But, in reality, that’s the way we are. If we actively listen to ourselves, we become more self-aware and realize we have many more choices available to us.
We may even come to realize that we have many different voices within us – aspects of ourselves that can be seen as being distinct from one another; a child, a warrior, a lover, a dreamer, a scientist, etc.  We can make the life of our inner community richer and more dynamic by encouraging these separate voices to speak in turn and even to speak to each other. Over time we may even discover that each voice has a consistent set of concerns and perspectives and knowing this can help us decide which voice to call on in a given situation. This imaginative exploration can be extremely revealing. We not only come to better understand ourselves and what makes us truly unique, we also come in contact with vast sources of information and understanding that we often leave untapped. The best thing about listening to our selves is that we come to realize we have many more perspectives to draw from and opportunities to choose from than we had previously imagined.
If you really want to learn a lot, put a neutral moderator in charge of these conversations. His or her job is simply to listen and observe non-judgmentally. Nothing shuts down communication faster than criticism. At times your moderator may direct specific questions or make a motion to move on to other subjects. Later, when all is said, you can weigh the evidence, draw conclusions, and make decisions about what’s to be done or not done.
We all want to be heard. When was the last time you wished you had someone to listen to you? When was the last time you listened to yourself?
Go ahead, speak what’s on your mind. Who knows? Other people may want to hear what you have to say.
Find more inspiration in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more in my Digital Photography Workshops.

Engage Your Inner Coach

Inner_Coach
“If someone in your life talked to you the way you talk to yourself, you would have left them long ago.” – Carla Gordon
We’re told that to improve and reach our full potential that we have to be our own worst critics. There is a time and a place for this – but it’s limited. Don’t make it a full time occupation. If you do, you may never get there.
Professional athletes have coaches who not only train them but also encourage and inspire them as well. When was the last time you coached yourself? Even if you’re lucky enough to find a creative coach (they’re in extremely short supply), they can’t do all the work, you too have to do some of it. You can’t afford to wait and find your perfect creative coach. Instead, become that person.
Energize yourself. Affirm your abilities. Set tangible goals. Provide yourself incentives. Reward yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments. It will help if you give yourself specific feedback and focus on concrete results. If you don’t have any accomplishments to speak of yet, frequently use positive affirmations until you do – and continue doing so afterward.
When you talk about yourself or your work, do you use positive or negative words? Many times, when we speak about ourselves as artists and our work, we downplay our abilities and accomplishments. It’s true that no one likes a raving egomaniac. But, there’s a real difference between arrogance and confidence. Confidence is attractive and inspiring; arrogance isn’t; neither is insecurity. Don’t let your insecurities get the best of you. Be careful not to talk yourself down, cut yourself off short, or fall completely silent. Instead, learn to speak simply and directly about yourself and your work, sharing your enthusiasm for your subjects and your medium.
Not feeling it? Act as if you do. With just a little practice you will begin to feel it. Practice makes perfect. And the right coach can help guide you to perfect practice.
Find more inspiration in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more in my Digital Photography Workshops.

Make Your Inner Critic Useful

Inner_Critic
Your inner critic can be a terrible adversary or a powerful ally. Which one it becomes depends on how you relate to and use it. Like any animal, proper care and feeding can work wonders while neglect and abuse can produce monstrous results.
The inner critic’s powers of analysis and forethought are truly exceptional. Your inner critic is a protective mechanism. Its job is to help you avoid potential dangers. It’s excellent at identifying weaknesses or shortcomings that if left uncorrected and allowed to continue unchecked may have adverse affects. It can quickly identify potential areas for improvement. It can provide all sorts of extremely valuable feedback.
But, the inner critic has it’s limitations. The inner critic speaks from a point of fear. It motivates with fear too. It’s a pessimist. It’s often accurate, but never infallible. Because of this, it isn’t good at being supportive, but instead may create doubt and insecurity. Its criticism may not be constructive, if it’s feedback isn’t placed in a useful context. If it goes too far astray, its affects can produce negative results and even lead to paralysis.
So how can you turn this powerful voice from enemy into ally?
First consider the inner critic a trusted ally – one with limitations. Whenever you hear the voice of the inner critic, ask if what it has to offer is helpful. If it is, use its feedback to improve your results. If it’s not, calmly acknowledge it. tell it you value it as an ally both in the past and in the future, and clearly state the reason(s) you’ve decided to make the choice you’re making. Tell it you will continue to consult with it in the future. You might even give it an alternate project to work on. Stay calm; it can feed on negative emotions. Once you’ve made your decision, be firm. Remember, like a child having a tantrum, there may be times it needs to be silenced.
Find more inspiration in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more in my Digital Photography Workshops.

Doing It For The Love Of Doing It

pygmalion
The word amateur comes from the Latin word amator (lover). Amateurs simply do things for the love of doing them. Over time the word amateur has come to mean doing things with less education, discipline, and craft. Amateurs rarely create great works of art. Yet, we’d all be wise to reconsider the original meaning of the word amateur and do more things for the love of doing them – even if we have to learn or relearn to love the things we have to do. No great work of art was ever made without this kind of passion. Passion is a prerequisite for excellence.
One danger professionals face is losing the spark of passion and the thrill of discovery along the way to achieving proficiency. I often recommend that creative people who have developed a significant proficiency in one creative discipline become amateurs in another creative discipline. It can be extremely challenging to engage in a creative discipline you know well to be spontaneous and to give yourself license to experiment within it. But that’s exactly what you need to do to do your best work and to make break throughs.
When we experiment we tend to be less results oriented and more process oriented. When we experiment we don’t expect perfect results the first time we try something; instead we hope to find new insights that can later be perfected. When we experiment we don’t fear failure; in fact we consider it part of the process. When did we forget that learning from failures is how we make discoveries and improve? When does our fear of failure keep us from succeeding in new ways?
Working in a secondary creative discipline can give you a fresh perspective on your primary creative discipline and the creative process in general. How are the two similar? What creative strategies are most useful in both? How are the two different? Is there a way that practices in one could be applied to the other? You can find ways to hybridize the two and energize your primary creative outlet. You may even find that your enjoyment of the creative process is higher in your secondary discipline, even thought the results you achieve within it aren’t as polished. This may lead you to the most important question of all, “Why do you do what you do?”
So dare to be an amateur. Do things simply for the love of doing them. Enjoy yourself. Experiment. Become more aware of your process. Do some soul searching. Make these things you do regularly.
Learn more about the word amateur at Podictionary.
Find more inspiration in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more in my Digital Photography Workshops.

Get Physical With Your Subjects

touch
To truly touch your viewers you may have to touch someone or something else first.

We have many intelligences (intellectual, emotional, physical, etc), but when it comes to making images we often leave many of them out of the mix. Try energizing your creative process by using all of you.

Get physical. The power of touch can reveal volumes. Imagine how much and how quickly an extended hand or a pat on the back can say. This doesn’t only apply to interacting with people and animals. If you physically make contact with any subject, even inanimate objects, you’ll come to understand it better; its scale, texture, density and much more. You may even decide to make contact with more than your hands. Press your face up against a window. Step into the currents of swift-flowing waters. Lay down in shifting sands. Experience your subjects from many perspectives. Doing this will lead to many new ideas. It will also inform old ideas. As your understanding of your subjects grows, your images will take on new dimensions and new depths.

Find more resources on Creativity here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Writing Artist's Statements

artistsstatements
It’s important to learn how to make the visual verbal, by crafting artist’s statements. Many artists feel that images are better seen and not heard. I understand their point of view. But, face it, things will be said and written about your images. If you don’t do it, someone else will. You might as well become involved in the process. After all, as the author, this is one arena where your words are definitive.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to write. Just write. Write like you speak. Write with your voice.
Like making images, writing is a process, a process of making thoughts and feelings clearer. Often, you don’t know what shape the final product will take, until you finish.
At first, I resisted writing about my images. Now, I find the process so valuable that I’ve made it a part of my artistic process. Every time a new body of work arises, I write. When I’m ready to release a book of the work, I write again. As a result of writing, I gain a better understanding of the work I did, the work I’m doing, and the work I’m going to do. So do the people who see my images, surprisingly, even if they don’t read what I write.
This is an excerpt from a longer essay Artists’ Statements. Download it here.
Read my artist’s statements here.
Read the text from three recent books here.
Learn more in my Fine Art Digital Printing Workshops.