Monday, 8 June 2009

Waiting for inspiration to strike

They say that inspiration is lurking around every corner. But is it? Are such moments of clarity really there for the taking, or do you have to make them appear through the process of your own thoughts and actions?

Whichever way you cut it, inspiration comes in many forms. Whether it hides in the pages of a book or magazine (my current read of the moment is Wired Magazine), or comes from the company you share... Perhaps the places you visit or the journeys you make around the internet super highway - everyone has their own way of coming up with fresh ideas.

For us photographers, we need to be on the constant lookout if we are to stay on our toes and produce interesting images. It is one thing to be set a brief to follow, but when you are commissioned to create a set of images, it is your ability to visualise concepts and bring them to fruition that will keep the client happy - not simply your ability to 'press the button'.

What about personal projects? In previous posts, I have written about the importance of photographers producing work for themselves, as well as producing commissioned work. I have been getting a few ideas of my own together recently - nothing concrete, just a few thoughts and images to test the waters - and the latest developments came about thanks to the postponement of an assignment over the recent Bank Holiday.

Seizing the opportunity to get out of the house, Manda and I headed off for the local ancient woodland - with no real thoughts towards image making in mind. It was a beautiful day and we were just glad to be out in the fresh air. But... Me being me, with my head always buzzing, I began to think about how I could use the location to my photographic advantage; every corner we turned presented the possibility of a would-be backdrop.

Thoughts immediately sprang to mind of Drew Gardner's fantastic work, which I have been following via his blog in recent months, and I soon found myself stopping to take 'location snaps' to place in my sketch book for future reference.

What I have in mind is by no means the same as Drew's concepts. I am drwaing on my own interests and influences, my own love of the outdoors and how I wish to place my subjects there.

I have not set myself a deadline for this personal work - it it not at that stage yet. For now, I'm happy simply to keep on walking, to keep on thinking, to be open to outside influences and the oportunities of what is yet to come.


Pete Tiley / Titan Images said...

I am never short of inspiration and I shoot as much as I can, when I can. However, of late my inspiration is fading as I think that my work is not getting the kudos it deserves and this is a very sinking feeling. I referred to the internet generation in that new photographers are commenting on forums and telling other photographers what they should be doing - I find that most disheartening.....

Giles said...

Hi Pete - nice to hear from you again.

What's the expression - 'Every one a critic'?! People will always be very good at criticising the work of others... but are those same people really in a position to do so? Often, one has to say 'no'.

There was an 'anonymous' contributor to one of my posts a few months ago who had that classic 'one god hit and run' mentality; when challenged to follow up on their comments, there was nothing.

Still, it's a free country, as they say, and everyone is entitled to their opinion - the difference comes when one has to ask just how constructive such opinions really are.

At the end of the day, as the artist - the author of your imagery - it falls to you to decide whether or not the pictures 'work' and therefore satisfy your criteria.

As for resolving your 'dry spell' - Why not change your approach, try something completely radical, perhaps something that takes you out of your comfort zone? Could be the subject matter, the locations, the kit you use (eg one camera/one lens/natural light only) - it doesn't matter, just so long as you shake things up a bit.

For what it's worth, one piece of advice, and something that has always worked for me... If in doubt, go back to the old masters - Brassi, Cartier-Bresson, Adams, Erwitt etc. These guys epitomized the essence of photography, the art of crafting light in order to capture the moment; they were not concerned so much with the equipment - cameras are simply tools - and as such, their pictures speak for themselves.

Giles said...

Pete - Just a thought... If ever you fancy a change of scenery and want to head up to Hampshire, let me know and we'll have a photo day out :)