25 Ways to Jump Start Photography Inspiration

Apr 7, 2008

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

25 Ways to Jump Start Photography Inspiration

Apr 7, 2008

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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So, you finally have the time to shoot but lacking inspiration? Need a fresh flow of new Ideas? Here are 25 ways to get your photography creativity going.

1. Go to the Movies

imdb_logo2.gifMovies are great inspiration. Before you go, prepare yourself mentally. You can
find inspiration in the story of the movie, in the photography, in the
morals, in one of the characters and in the dialogs.

2. Check Out Flickr’s Explore

flickr_logo_gamma_gif_v1_5_14.gifOne of flickr’s most interesting features is the explore page. In this page you’ll see some of the images that flickr ranks as “interesting“. 99 out of 100 times those are great photos. Take a look at these photos to get inspiration. Do not try to copy them but ask, “What do I like about it?”; “How can I make it better” or “What twist can I add on top of this picture?” (Of course, a nice bonus is to get your image in Flick’s explore)

3. Try to Learn a New Lighting Technique

strobist_200x75blk.jpgSometimes you can get inspiration not by focusing on the what (the subject), but by focusing on the how. even if you shoot a boring neutral subject in an interesting way, you can get a great picture. The Strobist is a great place to learn about lighting, and you can get some lighting ideas here as well.

4. Join a Photowalk

Almost every town has a club that you can join and go out for a have-fun-together session. Your benefit is threefold: 1. You will be forced to get out of that couch. 2. You’ll interact with other photographers. 3. You’ll get some shooting ideas. Rich is having a group in Utah, flickr is running a bunch, and there is a photo walking site – really, they are all around – you just have to get another photog and go out the door to have one. (This is how I started, long, long ago).

5. Look at Popular Photoblogs and Get Inspired

Getting ideas from other photographers can be very inspirational. When you look at a fellow photographer blog or gallery you expose yourself to new ideas, photography styles and techniques. You can later employ those ideas on your photography. If you see anything you like, ask: how I would have taken this image, or how can I use this technique to make a say of my own. This is my list of sites. Chase has one great list as well and Brian held a good list too. Now go surfin’.

6. Go Through Your CD Covers

One of the ways to get your inspiration going is to tap to other great creators and their creations. By browsing your CDs (does anybody still has CDs? or have everyone gone to iPods??!!!) you get a double kick. You get to watch the work of great photographers who shot the covers. You also get to find some great lost music that can get you inspired. Shooting a new cover to an “old” CD is a great project. (And you can always alphabetize the collection as you promised to yourself on new years eve)

7. Listen to Your Favorite Music

While you are going through the covers, find one artist that really inspires you and put it in the player. Try to think what image can describe best one of the songs; The first verse; A single line; the mood of the entire CD.

8. Take on a Photo-a-Day Project

Sometimes what you need to get your inspiration going is a little push. A great push is a photo-a-day project. In such project you commit to take one picture each day. Such projects has various themes and lengths. Some of the projects are portrait oriented (or self portrait); some are generic; some have a general theme. Some are a month long, some are a year long and some are a picture a week. No matter which one you choose, the need to create something new on a deadline can give your creativity that little push it needs.

9. Read an (Art) Magazine

int_nav_wir06.gifActually you can read n Art / Fashion / Fun magazine. Magazines like wired can trigger new ideas just cuz they are so packed and full of inspirational stuff. Fashion magazines like Elle or Vogue often has lots of great photos that one can try and analyze both for technique and composition. (Heck, even the advertisements are shot in a great way).

10. Shoot a Sporting Event

Sporting events are everywhere. At your local school, College or down
at the park where your little (or big) brother is playing football. It is a great opportunity to take action shots as well as portraits. It is also a great opportunity to practice action shooting if you ever want to make a career at sports shooting.

11. Look 360

When you walk, you are always looking forward, right? As a photographer
you should get used to looking sideways, up and down. You’ll be amazed
at the amount of photo opportunities you can find on ceilings, second
floors, looking down the escalator. Reflections in puddles, car windows, shopping windows. Shadows on the floor, walls. You get the point.

12. Shoot for a Holiday Theme

You got a holiday coming? Great! Shoot something in the holiday spirit. An item related to the holiday: snow-slide; Cross; Menora; Shoot a scene from the Bible, New testimony; Koran – give it a twist.

13. Reproduce Art by the Old Masters

photography_inspiration_the_lovers.jpgAs David says, all the old masters are not called masters for nothing. They had it when it came to lighting, composition and posing. Trying to make an image like the old masters did it, is not an easy task. You can learn allot by trying to produce a very similar image. You can also learn
allot from trying to homage art made by one of the great ones. The image on the left is a great example of such reproduction of Rene Magritte – The Lovers by Mister Rad.

14. Shoot a Gorgeous Model

photography_inspiration_model.jpgThere is nothing more inspiring then shooting a gorgeous model. Whatever your definition of gorgeous model may be. The effort to bring one’s beauty to the final picture is demanding and challenging. The bonus is that you get to spend time with your definition of beauty. Don from Lighting Essentials has some great tips on low budget model shooting. This guy can work miracles using a single flash a ton (yep 1000 kilos) of v-cards.

15. Treat Yourself to “Photo Inspiration” Coupons

Rui from LM has a nice technique to get some idea for the next shoot. He uses Inspirational Coupons. Each coupon has a theme or an exercise divided into three: Theme, setting and time. By combining all three you can generate an assignment. an there is also an online version of the Inspiration coupons. So, if you don’t know what to shoot next? Just pick a card.

16. See an Art Show

Art shows are a great resource of inspiration. They can give you a new idea to focus on, help you understand a technique or take on a new perspective. Art shows often act as creativity singularities and the mere fact that a place is packed with art can help you to get inspired.

17. Take on a Photo Assignment or Challenge

Like I said before sometimes all you need to get inspired is a little positive pressure. Taking on an assignment is a great way to put yourself in a spot that will make you feel committed for inspiration. It will also narrow down your choices – sometimes it is a good thing. Strobist, photochallenge.org, and DPS forums, are all holding assignments.

18. Shoot Your Family

This is the ultimate there-is-no-way-out decision you can take to jump start your photographer block. Your family is always there, no need to get out, to schedule anything. Just decide how you want to make the shot and shoot. Many of the tutorials on DIYP are family made.

19. Shoot Your Favorite Food

Have your mama ever told you not to play with your food? Well she never said, don’t photograph it. Taking a photograph of food in an appetizing way is challenging. The LightSource has a great podcast with Kelly Cline, a commercial food photographer. And both Photojojo and Cameraporn has a quick tip article to aim you at the right direction.

20. Shoot in the Dark

How can one shoot in the dark? This again is a project that needs no special setup. Just a tripod and a flash light. In my painting with light tutorial, I discuss a nice technique to make light doodles with just a flash light in a dark place.

21. Shoot a Family Event

This is another great opportunity for you to take photos. The setting is there, everybody want in on the fun. And you’ll be aunt Naomi’s favorite nephew.

22. Use a Prop in an Interesting Way

photography_inspiration_interesting.jpgTake a look around you. Are there any objects on the table? Something the kids left on the floor? Take this object and try to use it in an interesting way in your picture. In this picture cayusa made a nice use of a magnification glass. Trying to look at ordinary things in unusual ways is always a great exercise; not only to your photography skills, but also to the way you see the world. Once you have that ability acquired, you can apply it to anything.

23. Tell a Story in 5 Pictures

Telling a story is a difficult task. It is difficult when you are unlimited with words and images. It is even harder to try and tell a story in five pictures. You need to know what you want to tell; make up an interesting way to tell it; find a beginning, a middle and an end and sum it up in five pictures. There is a flickr group devoted to this task, and here is one of my favorite examples.

24. Shoot an Ordinary Item Seven Times, But Make Each One Unique

This has to be a nice trick to get some inspiration going. Get an (ordinary) object and shoot it. Got the shot? The lighting is OK? The focus? Great! Now start playing with all the parameters of the image. Focus, Angle, Depth of field, Background, Movement. OK, you get the point. try to make seven of those pictures.

25. Take a Self Portrait

This is another challenge that is always available. Shooting yourself
requires nothing but a camera and some creativity. Step one – shoot
yourself. Step two – shoot yourself in an interesting way. Find an
unusual pose; unusual angle; multiple exposures; hold something. Anything
to make it interesting. How do you get it focused? Look here.

Want more? See how Photopreneur, Skellie and Brian get inspiration. It looks like Chase is heading down inspiration road as well.

And last but not least – Strobist, Happy birthday.

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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8 responses to “25 Ways to Jump Start Photography Inspiration”

  1. Jakub Chodounský Avatar
    Jakub Chodounský

    I put together a site with various photography assignments that will give you one per day if you are running short on ideas. Might help someone http://photographyassignments.org

  2. Thephototoday Coimbatore Avatar
    Thephototoday Coimbatore

    What a nice article and precious words! I am studying a higher degree of image and reading this I have come eager to do more photos. I’m still the beginner and most times I find inspiration, and I have a long way, but thanks to Blog I learn something every day. You make an excellent job, thanks, really!

  3. ssweddingphotographymadurai Avatar

    With all respect and humility, because I do not think even an amateur photographer, add a thirteenth point: the thought that I was born with a third-the eye of the artist and that’s enough. I think, like everything in life, learning requires effort and perseverance. Photography, being an art and a technique not saved from a learning process. Than good for those born with that third eye but not enough, because if you have that gift you can reach the “almost perfect”, however, those who do not have left us greater effort and can equate to “almost perfection”. Thanks for the article has motivated me a lot, because I’ve been through those difficult moments when I do not look anything around me, even though everything is present in my eyes and I have not looked. Thank you. http://www.ssweddingphotographymadurai.com

  4. CALEB BACON Avatar

    dont shoot something 7 times just to make it look unique the po-po will be after u

  5. yabesh photo Avatar
    yabesh photo

    What a pleasant article and valuable words! I am examining a higher level of picture and perusing this I have come anxious to accomplish more photographs. I’m as yet the fledgling and most circumstances I discover motivation, and I have far, however on account of Blog I master something consistently. You make a magnificent activity, much obliged, truly! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e912b598f99af4ce0a2187b42b4269b012a6ea7b25e6a5bd2e778276d9caeb3e.jpg

  6. irich photography Avatar
    irich photography

    Thanks for sharing Photographer by passion. Freelance photographer by profession. I take up assignment for Creative Weddings | Post Wedding | Maternity| Just born’s | Toddlers| kids | teens | people portrait | bridal portraits | family & friends. I do both indoor and outdoor.


    Excellent website. Lots of useful information here.
    Post Wedding

  8. Terri Williams Avatar
    Terri Williams

    Thanks for share your beautiful post……….