IF INSTAGRAM IS YOUR ONLY SOURCE OF PHOTOGRAPHY INSPIRATION? YOU NEED TO LOOK ELSEWHERE
I tried not to make this an Instagram-centric blog post, but I’ve failed. It just shows how big a part it’s played in my start in photography, that’s all.
As someone who’s loved IG (as many of us call it) from the moment I got into photography, I’m finding more and more inspiration from other sources such as Pinterest, movies, art and music. I believe you need to do this, otherwise you run the risk of trying to be just like other people and coming off at worst a pale imitation.
You never can tell what can spark an idea, either. Last year, I did a shoot with one of the best dressed people I know, @javanandre. I’d been watching lots of 80's and 90's movies set in New York, and came up with the idea of capturing him playing basketball whilst wearing a suit. It turned out to be one of my favourite shoots. Find the full story here: 'Suited and booted playing basketball'. Without being inspired by those movies beforehand, I doubt the resulting shots would have come out in the same way.
Don’t get me wrong, Instagram has been a huge influence for me in terms of photographers and creatives I’ve connected with, my growth in photography and the excellent work I see there every day (and let’s not forget that all my initial paid work came via Instagram). I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t the only place for me to get inspiration, ideas, or even work from. To be honest, there are times when I simply delete the app from my phone so that I can take a proper break and get inspiration from elsewhere.
DRAWINGS FOR INSPIRATION
Below are some drawings I created by using a phone app called Artstudio to trace over screenshots of images I’ve come across. I find this is a great way of getting ideas, and creating more of an outline drawing instead of just looking at the screenshot makes it more of a starting point - there’s enough detail without the distraction of looking at what colours were in the picture, how the picture was edited etc. Plus, I’ll be honest I CANNOT draw, so this is the always the next best thing (I so wish I could).
It seems that we as creatives are hardwired to be critical of our own work. However, with platforms like Instagram, this can become even more acute and it’s easy to compare yourself unfavourably with the work of others. Many of you would think with this in mind, you’d see a lot of competitiveness amongst photographers. On the contrary, when I think of the guys with whom I was learning photography in the early stages, there is nothing but encouragement, camaraderie and feeling proud of people when they do well. Many have gone on to do great work, including:
I’d like to think that learning and growing with likeminded people has had a positive impact on my photography. Furthermore, I reckon those times when I’ve gotten up at silly-o-clock for that sunrise shot, run around Soho doing street photography or location scouted like beast to try and capture that one architectural spot that hasn't been photographed to death has also fed into how I photograph people.
It’s always worth remembering that as with so many other types of art, people’s tastes differ. As photographers, our styles differ and our work will not always appeal to the same sets of people. Nor should it. No one should be made to feel that one style is better than the other. To quote Bobby Hundreds from the The Hundreds clothing brand “the best way to define what you are, is by what you're not”. That sweet dopamine hit of likes and comments should never be the thing that dictates what and how you shoot.