Autumn: an appropriate time to be thinking and writing about cycles. The garden is fully formed, yielding all that it has to offer. The mornings are cooler with the smell of crisp change perched on the air, and once again, my thoughts turn to another year. Another year of productivity, highs, lows, little celebrations and small defeats. Each year brings better understanding of the way I work and the work that I do now, potential uncertainty about the work to come, and acceptance of the work that's been done. And the crux here is that it is all connected.
In the classroom, I encourage my students to become familiar with the way they work. Understanding our working methods and process makes it easier to navigate the ups and downs of that process. For instance, under what conditions do you work best? Do you work on multiple projects at once, or do you complete one at a time? When are you most motivated? When are you least motivated or inspired? How do you deal with hitting walls or roadblocks? Do you like to experiment, or do you prefer full control? Recognizing these repeating conditions—and how we react to them—makes us more efficient and adept at maneuvering the creative working process.
I wonder, if one hundred visual artists were questioned why they create, how many different answers I would hear. I also wonder how many similar answers would emerge. Often, there are two somewhat disparate aspects to why we create. One is for self-satisfaction, personal fulfillment, or financial reward. The second is one that we, as photographers, are often reluctant to admit: so that others will see and appreciate what we do.
Finding inspiration can be very tough at times. Also, we all inevitably hit a slump once in a while. How do we stay inspired? Here are some tips from many famous professional photographers on how they keep that inspiration going. For even more ideas, you can take a look at how some famous photographers became interested in photography, pre-shooting rituals, and a couple of fun projects.
Whether you're totally new to photography or have been a veteran for many years, we all have someone or something that inspired us to begin this journey. Let us know how it all began once upon a time in the comments below. Me—it all began with New York Newsday photographer John Conrad Williams and his photojournalism class in college. He pushed me to create better pictures and unlocked my passion for documenting human life: the emotional, the intimate, the unusual, etc. Listening to his stories and the way he pushed me to strive for perfection made me addicted. Now tell us your story in the comments below.
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