Where do You Go for Inspiration for Your Photography?

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Over at the DPS Forums Nicole asks a question that has got some great discussion and shared learning going. She asks:

What happens when you run out of ideas, or just hit a mental brick wall for things to take pictures of? How do you get back into it?

How do you find things that you haven’t photographed 1,000 times before?

Here are some of the responses which I think are suggestions that would be useful to many of us:

  • I would say check the flickr interesting category and have a look there – hitkaiser
  • If no inspiration is presenting itself, I like a ‘random’ assignment; I tell myself I’m going to go to some place or other and not come home until I’ve taken a good pic – or at least done my best to – photonob
  • If not that, then the old ‘within 20 meters of your front door, there’s a good photo just waiting to be taken’ strategy – it makes you look at things in odd or new ways, I find – photonob

  • Sometimes it’s fun to come up with a photo scavenger hunt for yourself and just walk or drive around, trying to get them all – googlit
  • I like to go to the zoo and take pictures there. I always come back with something new, and I’ve been there loads of times. Parks and cemeteries are good for this, too. Besides getting new pictures, you never know what you might learn. 🙂 – googlit
  • just start taking random picts, even if it’s just your bookcases in your room. Play around w the composition, or aperture, or shutter speed to make it artistic. And if that doesn’t work, get drunk and start shooting, guaranteed to get you out of a rut – Christian James
  • Bouquets of flowers are always inspiring too. My roommates have watched me move my camera and play for hours taking pictures of bouquets that have been left – beckywithasmile
  • Since I don’t have the time to go traveling much lately, I just try to watch for opportunities in my neighborhood. A shop window that had an entire wall of little golden waving ‘maneki neko’ (fortune cat) statues, the way a sunset looked through the branches of a tree growing alongside a bridge, the Space Needle seen from across the Cut – RainPacket
  • I jump in my car, put the roof down (if the weathers good) and drive out in a random direction, until I find somewhere or something to take photos of. When I’m done I’ll keep driving – andy206uk
  • what i have been doing for the last 2 years is, every time i see a photo that inspires me, i cut it out and put it in a little pocket sized journal. that way i always have a little bit of inspiration in my pocket to feed off of when i have photo-block. also, i like to write my ideas down in there when they hit me, so i don’t forget. its a great little device – Fraggleroxer

What a great list of ideas for uninspired photographers!

Head over and share yours in the Where do you go for Inspiration thread.

PS: The first image above is from our ‘Backyard’ Assignment.

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Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • i go to certain writings that are inspiring to my soul, and then i am ready to take a photography that hopefully properly expresses the things in my heart.

  • Shruti

    How do you find out about new assignments? Is it an email subscription?

  • Darren,
    I notice a lot of your content here and at problogger is user generated. Seems like sort of a rip off. I want some expert analysis and advice.

  • Shruti – at this point there’s no email for assignments – its a matter of watching the assignment section in the forum.

    John Wesley – I guess it depends what you mean by ‘a lot’.

    Here at DPS there are around 210 posts on the blog. I’ve written about 190 of them (probably more). I do use some of the posts of reader from our forums and do invite guest posts from readers when I think they have expertise in the area (for example – you can expect to see some guest posts on photoshop techniques in the coming weeks, I’m no expert in photoshop so would rather get someone else in) but these are currently the minority of posts.

    At ProBlogger I’d say it’s a similar proportion (in not even more dominated by my own posts). I do use guest posts from time to time there also, particularly to fill in when I’m on holidays or traveling.

    I guess my opinion on user generated content is that it’s not all bad. I personally believe that the DPS community knows a lot more about photography (and the community at ProBlogger knows a lot more about blogging) than any one person within it does (and more than i do). So in that way I see it all as ‘expert analysis’ in a sense.

    I’m not trying to build a blog where one person dominates the conversation – Instead I’m trying to build a community of knowledge.

  • Darren – just wanted to thank you for this post, it’s just what I needed to get a kick up the backside and get out of my current rut.

    I actually appreciate the user generated content – I don’t get time to read as much as I would like, and I think it’s great that here and a problogger I can have summaries of what’s doing the rounds in terms of ideas, and then have the option of looking more deeply into things that interest me. I’m sure the style isn’t for everyone, but whose blog can claim to please every reader all the time, eh?

    Now if you can do a “get out of the rut” series over on problogger as well, that’d be great 😉

  • Thanks for the response. I hope I didn’t sound too critical. After all, us readers get all the great content for free. Keep up the good work.

    Also, great redesign! The site is now much more navigable.

  • Something that my old photography instructor suggested was to grab a book of haiku and choose one at random and interpret it photographically.

  • Lauran

    Being somewhat of a beginner, I open up my camera’s manual… there’s always some control or technique in there that I haven’t yet explored and it gives me something to experiment with.
    Or sometimes I do much lamer things like try to capture the essence of my sleeping cat or add to my collection of bizarre grafiti that I notice around town.

  • Luckily for me Washington, D.C. is filled with inspiration, I use my photoblog http://www.93autumns.com to showcase my work and I post a photo a day. That provides me with both motivation and inspiration. Surfing other photoblogs can also be inspiring.

  • It’s a simple question yet somewhat difficult to answer. I always make sure to have my Point and shoot camera in my car. I get inspired from everything around me.

  • Liisa

    I like taking my camera with me and walk around town, focusing on something random for few seconds and sense it- if it clicks, it’s the next thing to take photographs from, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. And river- it always inspires me and I love walking near it.

  • Ziv

    take a trip… google for a good place (antiques/blossoming flowers/mountains/rivers/just a place for hiking). go into the car. grab some friends. put food and camera equipment in the bag and just go hiking with friends or family and wait for the pictures to come.

    you are most likely to find panoramas, rivers,flowers and just people.

  • I am an amateur. Inspiration can come in many forms..one of which is setting up an assignment for myself..like reading up on a new technique and trying it out. Recently, I ventured into the busy street to try out the panning technique. It was worth it!

    Whenever I come across interesting places of travel in the local newspaper, I try to make it a point to visit as it gives me an opportunity to improve my photography.

Some Older Comments

  • MeiTeng March 5, 2009 05:10 pm

    I am an amateur. Inspiration can come in many forms..one of which is setting up an assignment for myself..like reading up on a new technique and trying it out. Recently, I ventured into the busy street to try out the panning technique. It was worth it!

    Whenever I come across interesting places of travel in the local newspaper, I try to make it a point to visit as it gives me an opportunity to improve my photography.

  • Ziv December 24, 2006 08:43 pm

    take a trip... google for a good place (antiques/blossoming flowers/mountains/rivers/just a place for hiking). go into the car. grab some friends. put food and camera equipment in the bag and just go hiking with friends or family and wait for the pictures to come.

    you are most likely to find panoramas, rivers,flowers and just people.

  • Liisa December 21, 2006 10:27 am

    I like taking my camera with me and walk around town, focusing on something random for few seconds and sense it- if it clicks, it's the next thing to take photographs from, if it doesn't, it doesn't. And river- it always inspires me and I love walking near it.

  • Jorgeq December 19, 2006 10:26 am

    It's a simple question yet somewhat difficult to answer. I always make sure to have my Point and shoot camera in my car. I get inspired from everything around me.

  • Tracy December 19, 2006 07:50 am

    Luckily for me Washington, D.C. is filled with inspiration, I use my photoblog www.93autumns.com to showcase my work and I post a photo a day. That provides me with both motivation and inspiration. Surfing other photoblogs can also be inspiring.

  • Lauran December 18, 2006 04:59 pm

    Being somewhat of a beginner, I open up my camera's manual... there's always some control or technique in there that I haven't yet explored and it gives me something to experiment with.
    Or sometimes I do much lamer things like try to capture the essence of my sleeping cat or add to my collection of bizarre grafiti that I notice around town.

  • Eunice December 18, 2006 04:54 am

    Something that my old photography instructor suggested was to grab a book of haiku and choose one at random and interpret it photographically.

  • John Wesley December 18, 2006 01:50 am

    Thanks for the response. I hope I didn't sound too critical. After all, us readers get all the great content for free. Keep up the good work.

    Also, great redesign! The site is now much more navigable.

  • Pewari December 18, 2006 01:12 am

    Darren - just wanted to thank you for this post, it's just what I needed to get a kick up the backside and get out of my current rut.

    I actually appreciate the user generated content - I don't get time to read as much as I would like, and I think it's great that here and a problogger I can have summaries of what's doing the rounds in terms of ideas, and then have the option of looking more deeply into things that interest me. I'm sure the style isn't for everyone, but whose blog can claim to please every reader all the time, eh?

    Now if you can do a "get out of the rut" series over on problogger as well, that'd be great ;)

  • Darren December 17, 2006 03:49 pm

    Shruti - at this point there's no email for assignments - its a matter of watching the assignment section in the forum.

    John Wesley - I guess it depends what you mean by 'a lot'.

    Here at DPS there are around 210 posts on the blog. I've written about 190 of them (probably more). I do use some of the posts of reader from our forums and do invite guest posts from readers when I think they have expertise in the area (for example - you can expect to see some guest posts on photoshop techniques in the coming weeks, I'm no expert in photoshop so would rather get someone else in) but these are currently the minority of posts.

    At ProBlogger I'd say it's a similar proportion (in not even more dominated by my own posts). I do use guest posts from time to time there also, particularly to fill in when I'm on holidays or traveling.

    I guess my opinion on user generated content is that it's not all bad. I personally believe that the DPS community knows a lot more about photography (and the community at ProBlogger knows a lot more about blogging) than any one person within it does (and more than i do). So in that way I see it all as 'expert analysis' in a sense.

    I'm not trying to build a blog where one person dominates the conversation - Instead I'm trying to build a community of knowledge.

  • John Wesley December 17, 2006 01:41 pm

    Darren,
    I notice a lot of your content here and at problogger is user generated. Seems like sort of a rip off. I want some expert analysis and advice.

  • Shruti December 17, 2006 12:22 pm

    How do you find out about new assignments? Is it an email subscription?

  • joshua longbrake December 17, 2006 10:47 am

    i go to certain writings that are inspiring to my soul, and then i am ready to take a photography that hopefully properly expresses the things in my heart.

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