How To Be Inspired Every Day

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blurred reality by Eva Polak.jpgA Guest post by Eva Polak  

“Inspiration does not come like a bolt. Nor is it kinetic, energetic striving. It comes into us slowly and quietly all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.” – Brenda Ueland

Whether you have been creating photographs for years or only for few weeks, finding inspiration is not always easy. We all experience periods of creative blocks when we get stuck and all our good ideas come to a halt. Inspiration seems to elude us. So, what can we do to help a creative energy affect us day after day? Is there a way to stay inspired? For me there is a definite “Yes” to these questions.

Throughout the years I developed some systems and strategies to ensure I remain creative and make things happen. The followings are my favourite ways to keep igniting my creativity.

1. Keep a Notebook

Keep your notebook with you whenever possible, so that you can write all your ideas, notes, inspirational quotes, dreams, goals, etc. Be consistent and add items to it often. In time it will become a great source of inspiration but also a reminder of your goals to keep you focused and motivated.

2. Take your Camera with you Wherever Possible

There are possible photographs all around us. You never know what you will see. Be prepare.

3. Read Biographies of Artists that you Admire

A biography is a great source of inspiration. You can learn, not only facts from someone’s life, but also discover important insights while gaining a deep appreciation for challenges these artists faced and the accomplishments they achieved. You may find parallel experiences in their life, be inspired by their persistence, and be motivated by their success.

on edge by Eva Polak.jpg

4. Experiment

Take risks and try photographic styles or techniques you’ve never done before.

Use different camera settings. Play “What if…” game. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just explore and have fun.

5. Start a Personal Project

Set realistic goals and plan your photo shoots. This requires a lot of discipline, so start small and you can always build up.
Evaluate your results from time to time, but remember this is your project, your ideas and your photographs. Don’t let anyone discourage you.

6. Visit Art Galleries

Going to see an exhibition can enrich your imagination. You will get new ideas to focus on and see your own art in a new perspective.

7. Learn Something New Everyday, Every Week, Every Year

Start reading books about art and photography. Subscribe to newsletters, podcasts and feeds. Take a class, attend a workshop, join a photography group. These activities will trigger new ideas, increase the level of your skill and boost your confidence.

human paths by Eva Polak.jpg  

8. Visit New Places

You don’t have to go overseas to find something exciting to photograph. Explore your neighbourhood. You will discover all sorts of places that you didn’t even know existed.

9. Look after Yourself

A healthy body equals a healthy mind. Exercise, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, drink a lot of water. Take some time out to relax.

And above all have fun!

Eva Polak is fine art photographer based in Auckland who specializes in impressionist photography. Author of two books “At the beach” and “Impressionist Photography Techniques” – visit her site at www.evapolak.com.

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  • Eva,
    You will never know how much I needed to read this post … I am just sad that it wasn’t posted sooner!
    Thank you for the proverbial kick up the rear end – I really needed it !

    I have heeded your advice and there are a number of actions that I have taken.

    I am going to amalgamate a couple of your points and have set up a weekly project. My first topic is called : Shutter Speed. I am going to experiment and have a bit of fun with my camera …. what’s the worst that can happen – I delete the images !! So hopefully this week I can blog some of the results.

    SO lets see what the next week will bring – just the thought of it has brought a spring to my step – I am excited about photography again !

    Thank you …. Cai

    Oh yes – and I have books some classes at the gym ;o)

  • Eva,

    I loved this post – most especially because I discovered so many things on here that I already do.

    Thanks for sharing, and for giving me a few other things to think about.

    ~Keep on Snappin,
    Rose

  • Really enjoyed this article! Especially love the beach scenes video! Thanks again. [eimg url=’http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=39699942′ title=’view_listing.php?listing_id=39699942′]

  • Marjan

    Hi Eva – your entry and website are a wonderful discovery and I love your work. Coincidentally I spent quite a few hours this weekend with my camera at Balls Head Reserve in Sydney taking impressionist photos and am very happy with the results. Am trying very hard not to be tempted to buy your book but will probably give in :-). Any chance you will come to Sydney to give a workshop or 2? – I would love to learn to do this well
    Regards
    Marjan

  • Thanks for reminding us with tip #9 πŸ™‚

  • Thank you Eva,

    I absolutely love your ideas/suggestions. I do several of these things and it has made a huge difference for me. This is my 3rd year in photography and the key thing that I do is take my camera with me everywhere. I also live by Bryan Peterson’s comments in the Introduction to “Understanding Shutter Speed” where he says that there are “8,640,000 daily opportunities to record an exciting image.” I took that revelation to heart becuase I make sure to take the time to trip the shutter at least once a day. This, along with my goal of posting a daily image to Facebook, continually drives me to “see” subjects and opportunities to shoot.

    You may view some of my images at the locations below, any and all feedback and comments are appreciated.

    http://www.jljfoto.com
    http://jljfoto.wordpress.com

  • A wonderful read and one that has inspired me to get creative and stop being so negative about my photography. Over the past few weeks I have had a huge photography block, I originally started with wildlife photography and slowly moved into other areas but find it so hard to come up with ideas. I have since had a project idea which I HAVE TO start soon as possible and seeing that my camera comes to work with me EVERYDAY, I have to find areas around me at work and the surrounding area to get out and take some photos…. starting TODAY!!!!

    Neil

  • Eva

    Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comments.
    πŸ™‚
    Eva

  • What great suggestions!! I am living in a small town in Thailand teaching English and I would only whip my camera out when I was taking visits to far off islands and whatnot and nothing really of my town. I decided that I would start a 365 project and it has given me the best shots since I’ve been to Thailand. I’ve really gone out and explored my town and sometimes it is way more interesting than those picturesque beach photos! It has really inspired me!

  • I think everyone suffers from a lack of creativity from time to time. My favorite way to break out of a photographic funk is by watching documentaries about some of the masters of photography. I saw a great PBS show on Ansel Adams and I had to pick up my camera afterwards.

    Also, I am a big fan of photography books. SInce I shoot mostly concerts I have a couple of Glen E. Friedman’s book in my studio. Flipping through the pages you can’t help but get psyched to get out and shoot.

    I am an avid runner and hiker and I find that physical exercise helps fuel my creativity.

  • Tazz

    Totally agree!!! Inspiration doesn’t simply fall from the sky. As a photography student i’m expected to come up with multiple original ideas in very short spaces of time and as most artists know you think best when you are “free”, so this causes a major problem. Thanx for the tips. They will be very useful!

  • Renita

    Thanks for the inspiration. I have a love for photography…kids mostly. But I was doing some research on photography, poverty and politics…(what a combination) but was just greatly moved by some words and pictures…on your wesite. Thanks.

  • Barbara

    RIGHT ON!

  • These are really great points. I am one of those people who have a really hard time with a notebook, but with today’s cell phones it is so easy to make just a voice note or other reminder. I just need to do it more than once every few months. I don’t think most people think about the eating and health aspect, but I agree totally. I definitely need to work on that. I know I am often inspired when I am excercizing, walking or riding my bike. I thought it was just boredom, but it’s probably a combination of thinking time and oxygen getting to the brain.

    Again, great article.

    Scott at World’s Best Photography Blog

  • leesa

    Great article, thanks. Can you suggest some Biographies to read?

  • Thanks for all the suggestions on how to get inspired. I shoot Equestrian shows locally during the summer rain or shine which if anyone checks out my website yo will see examples of both. During the winter I get stagnant, I shoot animals on occasion but not much regularly. I enjoy landscapes and candid portraits. I will have to start a small project to see how it raises my inspiration level. Very good article, Thanks

  • Excellent advice!!

  • Thanks Eva! Your post has given me plenty of inspiration and ideas for my website and ideas on how to get people checking in on my Facebook page every week. It’s like you’ve given me a ‘jumpstart’ to get me going again and getting out there everyday (or every 2nd day) to just do what I love doing….photography!

  • vincent

    Thanks for this article. Starting a personal project is a great way to keep our interest going.
    I shall start one with a theme. In that way I will always try to look out for the opportunities to shoot

  • Hye Eva, I adore your work since 2 years ago πŸ™‚ thanks for the tips ya πŸ™‚
    here is my link, some of my work by following your style πŸ™‚

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/raffixstudio/sets/72157622252275289/

  • MM

    Nice article…

  • SwedishGuy

    Eva Polak, I am sorry but I don’t understand the art form in which you are photographing. Your photos seem to be a bunch of “camera shakes” images? Though I respect the colour form of your photos, I need to admit I’m probably not at the artistic level to understand this.

    I am guessing you don’t need to hunt for high (low numbered) aperture, extremely expensive, lenses =)

  • eva

    @leesa
    The private lives of the impressionists by Sue Roe, I’m fascinated by life of Vincent van Gogh, Mark Rothko and Edvard Munch.

    @swedisguy Don’t feel bad that you don’t understand my work. Just enjoy whatever stile of photography you like. πŸ™‚

    Thank you all for your comments.

  • manty

    it improve my looks towards creativity

  • Great tips to keep in mind…

  • Ari H

    Thanks Eva.

    Reading this article really hit me, not so the to-do-list but visiting your site and gallery. During the past few months I have done some experiments, just trying to capture feelings of a certain moment, without caring much traditional rules of photography. Eg. cars passing by in the night using shutter speeds like 1/2″ second and camera handheld. Most shots can be deleted right away, but some are awesome. I feel like getting to a higher level in some difficult game. This was before reading Eva’s article, but now I’m encouraged to push even further.

    I remember a discussion in one photography forum sometimes ago, people presenting their pictures about hockey. Most of the photos were technically good, some excellent, all taken with high quality (= expensive) equipment. Only it was sad that the discussion was about the speed of AF and sharpness and such. Why. Because all of the photos were dull, boring, none was such that I could imagine hanging on my wall. Hockey is a game of speed, fast movements, action. None of the pictures could give this impression, they were all frozen. I hope I can present some day a hockey photo that gives the feeling of action.

  • I do a lot of surfing for photography sites on the web (which is how I discovered DPS some time ago). As a result I started a 365 project for 2010 – with a couple of weeks’ practice in 2009 before I committed. It’s a difficult thing to undertake and some days inspiration comes very late, but once the camera is in hand all other thoughts and worries cease until the day’s goal is achieved. Some days are better than others.

    Thanks for the tips, and feel free to check out and comment on my site.

  • Kenneth Hyam

    Dear Eva,
    These notes are really good. They have inspired me to explore set projects and be creative as you suggest so convincingly. I do believe it can happen every day!
    Kenneth

  • loy

    It’s a nice thing you have an article like this. I almost forgot my passion about photography due to my daily work load. Thanks and more power.

  • willi

    so inspiring. thank you

  • Tanmay Shahriar

    It’s really inspiring, especially keeping notebook and starting personal projects. But I need some more detail of “personal project”. I mean how should be they designed?

  • This article hooks in nicely with the recent blog posts on Often Inspired about becoming a more inspired writer. Indeed, today’s post is about H. P. Lovecraft’s ‘Common Book’ – his notebook of jotted-down ideas and inspirations which he turned into stories.

  • Felicity

    Eva,

    I could not have seen this article at a better time, I am currently in an art mental block set up by one person. Myself. Last year I was taking photos left and right and into the summer…until someone close to be died on August 20th, 2011. It wasn’t that my life wasn’t filled with inspiration anymore it was quite the opposite, my house of inspiration was on fire. It was so bright and so hot I could feel it miles away.

    I was just too scared to go inside.

    All the things I had loved so much went to waste, I shunned them, I locked them in a box in my heart. All of the photos that had once made me so proud made me ashamed to even look at them. The simple camera I had once seen as the doorway to my soul, now seemed to be the portal into a nightmare. I had accepted its limited properties, but now, I can only see what it isn’t and what it will never do.

    Thank you for this, this was exactly what I needed.

    <3 Felicity

  • Yvonne

    Inspiring – love it and thank you Eva

Some Older Comments

  • Yvonne February 15, 2013 05:37 pm

    Inspiring - love it and thank you Eva

  • Felicity January 30, 2012 09:38 am

    Eva,

    I could not have seen this article at a better time, I am currently in an art mental block set up by one person. Myself. Last year I was taking photos left and right and into the summer...until someone close to be died on August 20th, 2011. It wasn't that my life wasn't filled with inspiration anymore it was quite the opposite, my house of inspiration was on fire. It was so bright and so hot I could feel it miles away.

    I was just too scared to go inside.

    All the things I had loved so much went to waste, I shunned them, I locked them in a box in my heart. All of the photos that had once made me so proud made me ashamed to even look at them. The simple camera I had once seen as the doorway to my soul, now seemed to be the portal into a nightmare. I had accepted its limited properties, but now, I can only see what it isn't and what it will never do.

    Thank you for this, this was exactly what I needed.

    <3 Felicity

  • William V. Burns August 26, 2010 08:46 am

    This article hooks in nicely with the recent blog posts on Often Inspired about becoming a more inspired writer. Indeed, today's post is about H. P. Lovecraft's 'Common Book' - his notebook of jotted-down ideas and inspirations which he turned into stories.

  • Tanmay Shahriar May 6, 2010 10:27 pm

    It's really inspiring, especially keeping notebook and starting personal projects. But I need some more detail of "personal project". I mean how should be they designed?

  • willi March 21, 2010 04:31 am

    so inspiring. thank you

  • loy February 11, 2010 05:22 pm

    It's a nice thing you have an article like this. I almost forgot my passion about photography due to my daily work load. Thanks and more power.

  • Kenneth Hyam February 10, 2010 06:11 am

    Dear Eva,
    These notes are really good. They have inspired me to explore set projects and be creative as you suggest so convincingly. I do believe it can happen every day!
    Kenneth

  • sensor-eyezed February 9, 2010 01:26 pm

    I do a lot of surfing for photography sites on the web (which is how I discovered DPS some time ago). As a result I started a 365 project for 2010 - with a couple of weeks' practice in 2009 before I committed. It's a difficult thing to undertake and some days inspiration comes very late, but once the camera is in hand all other thoughts and worries cease until the day's goal is achieved. Some days are better than others.

    Thanks for the tips, and feel free to check out and comment on my site.

  • Ari H February 7, 2010 01:45 am

    Thanks Eva.

    Reading this article really hit me, not so the to-do-list but visiting your site and gallery. During the past few months I have done some experiments, just trying to capture feelings of a certain moment, without caring much traditional rules of photography. Eg. cars passing by in the night using shutter speeds like 1/2" second and camera handheld. Most shots can be deleted right away, but some are awesome. I feel like getting to a higher level in some difficult game. This was before reading Eva's article, but now I'm encouraged to push even further.

    I remember a discussion in one photography forum sometimes ago, people presenting their pictures about hockey. Most of the photos were technically good, some excellent, all taken with high quality (= expensive) equipment. Only it was sad that the discussion was about the speed of AF and sharpness and such. Why. Because all of the photos were dull, boring, none was such that I could imagine hanging on my wall. Hockey is a game of speed, fast movements, action. None of the pictures could give this impression, they were all frozen. I hope I can present some day a hockey photo that gives the feeling of action.

  • Louise February 6, 2010 06:28 pm

    Great tips to keep in mind...

  • manty February 6, 2010 05:39 pm

    it improve my looks towards creativity

  • eva February 6, 2010 09:06 am

    @leesa
    The private lives of the impressionists by Sue Roe, I'm fascinated by life of Vincent van Gogh, Mark Rothko and Edvard Munch.

    @swedisguy Don't feel bad that you don't understand my work. Just enjoy whatever stile of photography you like. :)

    Thank you all for your comments.

  • SwedishGuy February 6, 2010 04:46 am

    Eva Polak, I am sorry but I don't understand the art form in which you are photographing. Your photos seem to be a bunch of "camera shakes" images? Though I respect the colour form of your photos, I need to admit I'm probably not at the artistic level to understand this.

    I am guessing you don't need to hunt for high (low numbered) aperture, extremely expensive, lenses =)

  • MM February 5, 2010 08:40 pm

    Nice article...

  • Raffix Alias February 5, 2010 07:27 pm

    Hye Eva, I adore your work since 2 years ago :) thanks for the tips ya :)
    here is my link, some of my work by following your style :)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/raffixstudio/sets/72157622252275289/

  • vincent February 5, 2010 01:54 pm

    Thanks for this article. Starting a personal project is a great way to keep our interest going.
    I shall start one with a theme. In that way I will always try to look out for the opportunities to shoot

  • Gina O February 5, 2010 09:07 am

    Thanks Eva! Your post has given me plenty of inspiration and ideas for my website and ideas on how to get people checking in on my Facebook page every week. It's like you've given me a 'jumpstart' to get me going again and getting out there everyday (or every 2nd day) to just do what I love doing....photography!

  • Kerri February 5, 2010 09:07 am

    Excellent advice!!

  • Fred February 5, 2010 08:20 am

    Thanks for all the suggestions on how to get inspired. I shoot Equestrian shows locally during the summer rain or shine which if anyone checks out my website yo will see examples of both. During the winter I get stagnant, I shoot animals on occasion but not much regularly. I enjoy landscapes and candid portraits. I will have to start a small project to see how it raises my inspiration level. Very good article, Thanks

  • leesa February 5, 2010 07:31 am

    Great article, thanks. Can you suggest some Biographies to read?

  • Bull Rhino February 5, 2010 03:42 am

    These are really great points. I am one of those people who have a really hard time with a notebook, but with today's cell phones it is so easy to make just a voice note or other reminder. I just need to do it more than once every few months. I don't think most people think about the eating and health aspect, but I agree totally. I definitely need to work on that. I know I am often inspired when I am excercizing, walking or riding my bike. I thought it was just boredom, but it's probably a combination of thinking time and oxygen getting to the brain.

    Again, great article.

    Scott at World’s Best Photography Blog

  • Barbara February 5, 2010 03:18 am

    RIGHT ON!

  • Renita February 4, 2010 02:44 am

    Thanks for the inspiration. I have a love for photography...kids mostly. But I was doing some research on photography, poverty and politics...(what a combination) but was just greatly moved by some words and pictures...on your wesite. Thanks.

  • Tazz February 3, 2010 07:21 pm

    Totally agree!!! Inspiration doesn't simply fall from the sky. As a photography student i'm expected to come up with multiple original ideas in very short spaces of time and as most artists know you think best when you are "free", so this causes a major problem. Thanx for the tips. They will be very useful!

  • Greg Taylor February 2, 2010 02:53 pm

    I think everyone suffers from a lack of creativity from time to time. My favorite way to break out of a photographic funk is by watching documentaries about some of the masters of photography. I saw a great PBS show on Ansel Adams and I had to pick up my camera afterwards.

    Also, I am a big fan of photography books. SInce I shoot mostly concerts I have a couple of Glen E. Friedman's book in my studio. Flipping through the pages you can't help but get psyched to get out and shoot.

    I am an avid runner and hiker and I find that physical exercise helps fuel my creativity.

  • Alessandra February 2, 2010 11:15 am

    What great suggestions!! I am living in a small town in Thailand teaching English and I would only whip my camera out when I was taking visits to far off islands and whatnot and nothing really of my town. I decided that I would start a 365 project and it has given me the best shots since I've been to Thailand. I've really gone out and explored my town and sometimes it is way more interesting than those picturesque beach photos! It has really inspired me!

  • Eva February 2, 2010 05:44 am

    Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comments.
    :)
    Eva

  • Neil February 1, 2010 07:24 pm

    A wonderful read and one that has inspired me to get creative and stop being so negative about my photography. Over the past few weeks I have had a huge photography block, I originally started with wildlife photography and slowly moved into other areas but find it so hard to come up with ideas. I have since had a project idea which I HAVE TO start soon as possible and seeing that my camera comes to work with me EVERYDAY, I have to find areas around me at work and the surrounding area to get out and take some photos.... starting TODAY!!!!

    Neil

  • Jonathon Jenkins February 1, 2010 04:42 pm

    Thank you Eva,

    I absolutely love your ideas/suggestions. I do several of these things and it has made a huge difference for me. This is my 3rd year in photography and the key thing that I do is take my camera with me everywhere. I also live by Bryan Peterson's comments in the Introduction to "Understanding Shutter Speed" where he says that there are "8,640,000 daily opportunities to record an exciting image." I took that revelation to heart becuase I make sure to take the time to trip the shutter at least once a day. This, along with my goal of posting a daily image to Facebook, continually drives me to "see" subjects and opportunities to shoot.

    You may view some of my images at the locations below, any and all feedback and comments are appreciated.

    http://www.jljfoto.com
    http://jljfoto.wordpress.com

  • Mei Teng February 1, 2010 10:51 am

    Thanks for reminding us with tip #9 :)

  • Marjan February 1, 2010 09:44 am

    Hi Eva - your entry and website are a wonderful discovery and I love your work. Coincidentally I spent quite a few hours this weekend with my camera at Balls Head Reserve in Sydney taking impressionist photos and am very happy with the results. Am trying very hard not to be tempted to buy your book but will probably give in :-). Any chance you will come to Sydney to give a workshop or 2? - I would love to learn to do this well
    Regards
    Marjan

  • Pam Lefcourt February 1, 2010 06:43 am

    Really enjoyed this article! Especially love the beach scenes video! Thanks again. [eimg url='http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=39699942' title='view_listing.php?listing_id=39699942']

  • Rose February 1, 2010 03:00 am

    Eva,

    I loved this post - most especially because I discovered so many things on here that I already do.

    Thanks for sharing, and for giving me a few other things to think about.

    ~Keep on Snappin,
    Rose

  • Cai Graham February 1, 2010 01:08 am

    Eva,
    You will never know how much I needed to read this post ... I am just sad that it wasn't posted sooner!
    Thank you for the proverbial kick up the rear end - I really needed it !

    I have heeded your advice and there are a number of actions that I have taken.

    I am going to amalgamate a couple of your points and have set up a weekly project. My first topic is called : Shutter Speed. I am going to experiment and have a bit of fun with my camera .... what's the worst that can happen - I delete the images !! So hopefully this week I can blog some of the results.

    SO lets see what the next week will bring - just the thought of it has brought a spring to my step - I am excited about photography again !

    Thank you .... Cai

    Oh yes - and I have books some classes at the gym ;o)

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