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Shoot for Yourself: Staying Inspired as a Photographer

by Laura McPherson | March 4, 2013

Whether you do digital photography for pleasure or as a professional, creative ruts do sometimes happen. These ruts are a hazard in any creative endeavor, but the biggest mistake you can make is to simply wait it out. By seeking inspiration to rejuvenate your true creative instincts, you can keep your skills sharp as well as your mind. Here are three ways to reconnect with your love of digital photography by shooting for yourself.

New York water tower district, water tower district, personal projects When you are traveling is a great time to take time out for your own personal projects.
Photo by: Eric Von Lehmden

Explore the Portfolios of Other Photographers

There are nearly as many styles and motifs in photography as there are photographers. While you have your own approach to digital photography or even film photography, there is nothing wrong with imitating someone else for a day to stay inspired. You can learn new techniques and even develop your own photographic style by doing so. To get you started, take a look at these stunning professional portfolios.

  • Jules Allen Photography. A master of many forms, Jules Allen works in both commercial photography and art photography, primarily in black and white; his pieces are placed in museums and exhibits around the world.

  • G M B Akash. G M B Akash’s portraits of people typically considered on the outskirts are deeply evocative, and his use of color to ground his subjects is original as well as to the point. Although some of his images cut to the bone and can be intense, Akash is equally talented at finding joy where he shoots.

  • Elinor Carucci. Elinor Carucci is a versatile photographer, capturing personally meaningful images that find wide audiences in art galleries and museums whenever she is not working commercially. Her subjects are broad but her unique approaches to light and shadow are cohesive across her body of work.

inspiration board, monotone inspiration, photo board, digital photography Looking to what inspires others can often be a good source of inspiration for yourself.
Photo courtesy: http://dreamboxinteriordesign.blogspot.com/

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Every photographer has a comfort zone, an area of photography where it feels "right" to practice. Whether it’s digital vs. film, black and white vs. color, or even portraits vs. landscapes, the decision to stay in your comfort zone may be zapping your creativity. By encouraging yourself to work with new methods and subjects on your own, you encourage yourself to look at the world with different eyes. This keeps you consistently inspired, and will show in your photography.

Try to translate your style to a new medium or approach and see what happens in the experiment. If nothing else, you will be inspired with fresh motivation when you return to your comfort zone!

foggy woods, vampire woods, quote on photo Stepping outside of your comfort zone is the first step to inspiration.
Original Photo courtesy: Annadriel http://www.flickr.com/photos/alfhild/

Enter a Photography Competition

You might not be a competitive person by nature, but friendly competition is one of the best ways to inspire yourself to focus on your own photography and find a new angle on an old approach. Photography competitions run the gamut of subjects and techniques, and are frequently open to digital and film photographers at all levels. The following contests are internationally recognized and typically held annually, so it’s never too late or too early! to start shooting for yourself with an eye to entering.

The best way to stay inspired with your digital photography is to never stop shooting, and always reserve time to shoot for yourself. This ensures that you stay interested in your work, and don’t fall prey to simply shooting for others or out of obligation. Keep your DSLR handy for when the light is just right and continue shooting for yourself!

upside down photo in wine glass, shooting through glass Images like this are often encouraged by healthy competition, which is a great motivator to get inspired.
Photo courtesy Wine On My Mind via Pinterest.


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