15 Ideas to Spark Your Photography Inspiration
Just as Ogres are like onions, so are photographers. They don't stink or make you cry, but they all have layers. These include a camera always within arms reach, a head full of ideas, a stunning photography website, a bucket list of future shots, a backpack full of gear… And an incredibly powerful element at the very center: Inspiration. But much like your camera’s battery, your photography inspiration needs to be recharged every now and then.
Ideally, you should be able to feel your creative levels dropping before you hit a photographer's block. But if you find yourself unable to get excited at the prospect of taking pictures, do not despair. These fifteen tips will help you get your photography inspiration back and make sure you never run out of creative ideas again.
01. Go for a walk
Sometimes, all you need is a breath of fresh air. Removing yourself from the endless distractions that surround you will allow your mind to wander freely. Plus, you’ll get some Vitamin D and increase your heart rate a little - both of which are key to leading a long, happy life.
Whether you take your camera with you or not is up to you. Some believe that leaving your gear at home will allow you to pay more attention to detail and look at things in a new way. Others think that you should take as many pictures as possible, without the pressure of getting certain shots or quality level. The third type of person, who shares their life with a four-legged companion, might simply be unable to refrain from bringing them along and putting their pet photography skills to the test.
02. Browse other people’s work
One of the most popular photography tips for beginners is to discover at least one image that inspires you every day. Exploring the work of others is a wonderful way to get ideas for your own pictures, and can also lead you to discover new techniques and styles.
Needless to say, social media is the simplest way to fuel your photography inspiration with outstanding portfolios. You can follow an endless list of photography Instagram accounts and scroll through them from the comfort of your own sofa. However, you should also try to attend photography exhibits near you. As great as social media is, nothing beats large-sized prints.
03. Find new perspectives
We are used to seeing certain scenes and subjects captured from similar points of view: A skyscraper from street level, a person right in front of the camera, or a beautiful close-up of a flower. Being able to break the default views and make your own rules will allow you to find your photography style.
All you need to do is look for new ways to photograph familiar locations and subjects. Try to shoot with different lenses and from diverse angles, maybe even create a series with several pictures of the same subject that look nothing alike. Get in front of the camera and come up with the craziest self portrait ideas you can. Be ready and open to taking a lot of photos that are far from stunning. Remember that this is all about learning and letting your photography inspiration flow.
04. Join a photo challenge
Having someone else come up with a theme or topic is a great idea if you’re struggling to find subjects to shoot. Furthermore, many find that photo challenges offer the perfect amount of pressure to get the job done without the stress of having to deliver a professional assignment.
Some challenges are focused on certain genres or styles, while others work on a periodic basis and encompass a wide range of potential subjects. You should dedicate some time to explore the available options and join the one that will have a more significant effect on your photography skills.
05. Try a different genre
Shooting a genre you’ve never tried before or don’t feel entirely confident in is the photography version of stepping out of your comfort zone. In many cases, lack of photography inspiration comes from a feeling of being unable to grow within the visual specialty.
Experimenting with a new type of photography will likely take you back to a time where everything about this discipline felt fresh and exhilarating. From astrophotography to still life photography, the possibilities are simply endless.
06. Take a trip
If the world around you no longer seems worth waking up at three in the morning to catch the sunrise for, it might be time to explore places beyond walking distance. Whether these places are a train ride or a nearly 19h flight away, it’s up to you.
On top of doing wonders for your photography inspiration, this option also offers the perfect opportunity to learn how to make a travel video. Plus, if you manage to get your muses back soon enough, you might even be able to turn the trip into a gig and make money as a travel photographer.
Bonus tip: When picking a destination, don’t let social media limit your creativity. There is life and outstanding landscapes outside of Northern Europe and the Alps.
07. Buy (or rent) new gear
'Cause we are living in a material world and we are material people, new things almost never fail to excite us. Now, we’re not saying you should break the piggy bank and spend all of your savings on the latest tech to be released to the market. In fact, buying expensive gear just in hopes for it to restore your photography inspiration is quite a terrible idea.
During a creative block, you should buy camera accessories that you believe could have a significant impact on your work in the long run, such as an ND filter or a flash. If you want to get your hands on costly equipment that you’re not sure you’ll be using in the future, such as a camera case for underwater photography, consider renting it instead.
08. Develop a new skill
One of the most common causes for lack of inspiration, in photography and in any other discipline, is doing the same over and over and over again - especially if the reason you're doing so is that you just don't know how to do something else.
But worry not, for there is nothing education cannot solve. Take this time to learn a new skill, whether it's a camera technique or a post-processing style. You can do so by taking online photography classes, attending a workshop, or finding presential courses near you.
09. Create a photo essay
The gift of photography storytelling is one of the most valuable skills for any genre. Yet, it is commonly overlooked in favor of more technical ones. Rather than going out and forcing yourself to take photos, think of what you want the images to document.
The most common type of photo essay is an album containing the travel photos of a recent escapade. But this is a skill you can develop without even leaving your house. Come up with a story to tell and put together some family portrait ideas to match it. Once that's ready, call everyone to the living room and let the fun begin!
10. Give motion a go
Introducing movement into your generally static work might just be the little push your photography inspiration needs. On top of that, learning how to create these types of visual works will become a great asset for your professional career.
There are several ways to bring motion into your images, varying from long exposures and timelapses to cinemagraphs and actual videos. If you’re ready to make the jump from photography to videography, start by getting familiar with the different types of shots, movements, and angles of video.
11. Start a personal project
Having a personal project is something every photographer should do, regardless of their level of expertise. For beginners, it teaches them how to develop the necessary skills to bring their creative photography ideas to life. For professionals, it offers a valuable outlet where they can nurture their passions and continuously challenge themselves outside of their day-to-day jobs.
These types of projects can be limited to a certain period of time or built around a concept that you can document without restriction. Regardless of what you choose to go for, make sure to leave an open slot in your schedule for it, especially when it feels like you just don’t have time for anything.
12. Read photography blogs
There’s a very famous photography quote by Ansel Adams that says “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.” Since correlations are mutual relationships, one can only assume that words are the place to go when you find yourself unable to focus in photography.
Online publications and blogs, such as Wix Photography, offer numerous articles, guides, and tips that you can benefit from for no charge whatsoever. If reading is not really your thing, you can simply browse through beautiful landscape photos, stunning aerial photography shots, thrilling sports photography pictures, and many more outstanding showcases.
13. Go back to analog
Chances are the vast majority of your photos live on your computer or in a hard disk stacked up on a shelf. While being able to store hundreds of thousands of pictures within a single device is incredibly comfortable, there is something inspiring about being able to touch and hang your work pieces. Select a few of your favorite images and put them in an album, or print the biggest highlights of your photography career so far to hang in your office.
On top of the tangible element, another big reason why we love film photography is the unexpected imperfections that come with it, such as light leaks and accidental double exposures. Using an old or disposable camera or shooting instant film will allow you to explore a whole new side of photography. Plus, the thrill of waiting for hours (maybe even weeks) to see the results is sure to give your photography inspiration a boost.
14. Work on your website
Rather than seeing your lack of photography inspiration as a huge setback, think of it as an opportunity to dedicate time to other aspects of your career. For example, when was the last time you updated your online portfolio? This is the perfect chance to catch up with the latest photography website design trends and make sure your site’s SEO is top-notch.
This might also be a wonderful opportunity to start writing a photography blog. In addition to being a powerful addition to your professional photographer website, both in terms of SEO and user value, writing about your photography knowledge and experience will help you get back in touch with your inspiration.
15. Remind yourself why you fell in love
Oh take me back to the start… Nobody said becoming a professional photographer would be easy, but probably no one ever told you about how hard losing your photography inspiration is. It is in times like these where you should allow yourself to take a step back from the everyday rush and reconnect to the things that drew you to this discipline in the first place.
By Judit Ruiz Ricart
Editor of the Wix Photography Blog