The problem of inspiration
The problem of inspiration is something that does not only concern those involved in photography but all creative arts such as music, literature, painting etc. Rivers of ink have been spent to describe all the psychological
And in some cases even physical, facets that imply the creative effort, just as, in literature, it is possible to find dozens and dozens of books that would like to explain to us how to stimulate the creative instinct that it is present, in different dosages, in each of us.
In this post I will try to tell mine. Of course, I’m not going to write motivational text here. Simply, as I always do on this blog, I will limit myself, to share with you who read me, personal considerations and experiences that I think may be of interest for you…
Photographer or instagramer?
And the first consideration, talking about the problem of inspiration, concerns something that is very close to my heart, the difference between photographers and instagramers. I don’t know if you belong to the ranks of those who have well divided the two worlds or those who, on the contrary, tend to confuse them.
I see it like this: if you are one of those who in front of a beautiful sunset over the sea feel the need to take a photo on the horizon, you post it on Instagram and you get your likes, well, do not be offended, but know that in my mind you are nothing remotely comparable to what I call photography.
For me photography is indeed inspiration but it is also technical, a lot of technique, a lot of fucking technique that no “de noartri” instagramer can dream of improvising.
The rule of the “stream.”
A first suggestion, even quite simple to follow, that I would like to give regarding the problem of inspiration for a photographer is to try to imagine “streams” of photos. For example: you can focus on “typical” themes such as landscapes or portraits of people. And once you have chosen your creative line you will get two advantages.
The first is a sort of help in the inspirational phase: for example, if you choose to devote yourself to the vein of landscapes, you will see how involuntarily a greater sensitivity towards these scenes will develop in you and you will be more ready than usual to recognize the right place and time to photograph, not losing the opportunity. The second advantage of developing a creative line is to be easily recognizable by your users; a useful tool to mark your territory, your cut, your footprint.
Belly or head based photographer?
A question to ask yourself and an answer to give yourself with respect to the problem of inspiration for a photographer is the following: are you head photographers or belly photographers? The question may seem bizarre to you and yet I am convinced that each of us photographers is inspired mainly along these two creative lines.
The leading photographers are what I define as “technicians”; they are able to look at a subject and understand immediately when the photographic conditions (light, stillness of the subject, color, etc.) are ideal for taking a picture.
And they snap it, and it usually comes out pretty good right away. They do not need to repeat the same shot several times because the image was already perfect when they imagined it in their head.
Then there are the belly photographers. They are the ones who understand it when inspiration comes because they feel a strange tension in the belly that tells them that it is time to take pictures.
It is not paramedicine: the tension in question is the same as that generated in others due to anxiety about an exam or a verdict. On the other hand, even the creative one is an anxiety right?
And photographers with heart feel it all. They are not always technically perfect and for this you will see them try and try again before being happy with the result.
But their images are the ones that tend to strike you the most, to dig into you when you look at them. A sort of mirror reflection of emotions that starts from the photographer’s eyes and then reverberates endlessly every time someone admires the photo taken.
Whether you are a belly or head photographer, a first, perhaps trivial, idea to solve the problem of inspiration is to always have your reflex with you, in the same way that a singer-songwriter always has the notebook on which to write the lines of a new song.
Inspiration, at least at the beginning (and in the next paragraph, I will deepen this topic) does not come when it pleases you. It does not warn and often does not even leave a trace when it goes away. She is a goddess of immediacy that must be experienced at the very moment she gives us her presence as a gift. And rest assured that it will be a moment so full of personal, technical and creative meanings, when fast. As the Latins used to say “estote Parati!”.
I conclude this paragraph with a final consideration on the inspirational process apparently in contrast with the previous ones, and I do it with this statement in which I believe very much: “you can train yourself for inspiration, dedicating time to it daily”.
But how, you will say, is all this not in contrast with the famous fleeting inspiration of head or belly I was talking about earlier?
Not exactly. The considerations I shared earlier refer to a first stage of photographic learning. But if you want to reach the top you will experience that phase in which you will not have time to wait for the goddess of creativity to pass by you.
You will have to know how to express it “on demand” because maybe you have a booked photo set for a few hours and you can’t wait for the good idea to arrive.
How to do in these cases? The only solution is to be trained in inspiration and creativity, so much so that you can express them, as mentioned before, on demand. How is this achieved? There are two ways: the first, simpler, consists in having the humility to look at those who have marked the world photographic panorama before you.
Doing so is child’s play and, thanks to the internet, it is also simple and free as books and galleries are easily found on the internet. At least in an initial phase.
At the end
But then it will be up to you to express your creativity, your inspiration, your photography. Prepare yourself for this by training every day, as an athlete prepares his competition for the Olympics.
So, study the subjects that inspire you, do little creative brain storming with yourself and generate ideas about possible scenarios, streams and creative veins that you want to explore.
Write down your ideas on a piece of paper; better, if you can, by sketching a sketch of your idea. It is not certain that every sketch will then turn into a photo but, by training in this direction, you will give your “I photographer” a mindset capable of unleashing all the inspiration that is in you and of finding inspiration even in those details to which ordinary people don’t care.
I assure you that you will be amazed, over time, to see how good you have become at finding the right idea for a shot as a photographer very quickly, yes, but as a professional.