How Do You Inspire Yourself?


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.

Peter Tellone

I’m inspired because I know I have yet to get “The Shot.” I always look to my locations themselves to inspire me. I know I HAVE to tell their story, even if that story is not the obvious one. I let my locations tell me what to shoot. I know that sounds odd, but it is what I always do. I went on a trip this year to the Sonoran Desert, having in mind to shoot big, broad landscapes. But the location told me otherwise. It said to shoot small, to shoot the details. And the story was told.

Rick Sammon

Several things inspire me; among them, most faces of "strangers in strange lands." That is why I travel. Different cultures also fascinate and inspire me. Seeing, learning about, and photographing different cultures is a rewarding experience. I also find inspiration in new technologies, such as HDR imaging.

As far as hitting a wall, I haven't yet! I never give up. I am also enthusiastic about my work—I love what I do. I think if we, as photographers, would follow our hearts, and take criticisms without taking them personally, we could learn from what others say, without getting our feelings hurt.

Dan Carr

 I like to go and pick up some magazines, and look at the work of other people in action-sports industries. I shoot snow sports, but the mentality of the athletes and styles of the photographers can often be similar in BMX, mountain biking, skateboarding, etc. I often see something in their work that sparks an idea in my head. 


Charles MacPherson

We all hit a slump in our photography from time to time. One of my favorite ways to break out of it is to buy a new piece of gear—but that gets pretty spendy.

But often I'll just pack up my equipment and take it for a hike through one of the local wildlife sanctuaries or state parks, looking for whatever wildlife I can find. It's rewarding to see how it varies by season—from the invasion of the warblers in the spring to the year-round residents like Red-Tailed and Harrier Hawks, and my favorite winter subject, the magnificent Snowy Owl. 

Just being out there with my gear, on the hunt for that perfect image, really gets me amped up—and sometimes I come home with the bonus of a portfolio image! 

Stacy Pearsall

Despite our best efforts as artists, no single thought is original. Humans have been creating art since the dawn of time. Whether it’s been created with sticks and mud or a Nikon DSLR camera with big Elinchrom lights, it doesn’t matter. To help sell a product, a client may ask me to photograph the merchandise in a way that’s new and inventive. With little-to-no art direction at all, I must get inspired, be original and create something beautiful. Since many great artists have probably already thought about it, done it, and done it better, it’s not hard to hit a wall. What I like to do is study those famous artists who are masters at their craft. Like any good student, I study hard and often. I pick each piece apart, making a mental list of what I like and don’t like. From there, I use the inspiration gained from others to create my own work or art. I value the art of photography, and the craftsmen who paved the way before me. They are my inspiration.

Jay Kinghorn

When I've hit a wall, I take my dog for a long walk. Watching how she "sees" the world through all her senses, attunes me to many of the small details that I miss unless I'm really paying attention. 

For daily insights, I've been finding lots of inspiration in movies and motion graphics. Today, it's technically possible to create anything you can imagine, and as a result, filmmakers are imagining some remarkable movies, short films and even commercials. I'm particularly attuned to it because of the digital-video and motion-graphics work I'm doing right now, but I find that inspiration spills over into my photography as well. 

Sandy Puc'

 Work is not your only priority, and stepping away from projects can be important to clear your mind. Spend time with family, friends and even time with yourself. Often times, stepping away can give us a new set of eyes to see something in a new light. If you've hit a wall, visit art museums, libraries, or travel to see the world. You do not need to spend a lot of money. These adventures are usually in your own city—you just haven't discovered them yet.      


Lindsay Adler

I find inspiration everywhere I look: movies, artwork, books, song lyrics, clothing, locations, music videos, and more.

Frequently I look online to study the work of photographers I admire. I NEVER copy images, but instead take pieces of the photo and create an image with my own twist. In a single image I may be inspired by the location, the pose, lighting, clothing and more.

Also when I feel uninspired, I look to my creative team (hair, makeup, wardrobe) to send me samples of images that inspire them, or certain styles they’d like to emulate.

"Reading, museums, movies. church, volunteering, teaching. Giving, receiving, feeling. More than anything, I'm inspired when I feel. There are moments when I'm completely drained or tapped out...then something happens (I read a book, I watch a movie, I visit a museum) that makes me feel something in a new way. When this happens, I am inspired and challenged to view the world in a new way."


John Paul Caponigro

How do I find inspiration? Let me count the ways!
1. Walk in nature

2. Visit a new place

3. Plan a future trip

4. Read

5. Listen to music

6. Watch movies

7. Look at artwork

8. Review my finished images

9. Review my unfinished images

10. Make new images spontaneously

11. List new creative things to try

12. Try something new, creatively

13. Sketch ideas

14. Free-associate

15. Brainstorm

16. Meditate

17. Yoga

18. Massage

19.  Astrology, Numerlogy, and Tarot

20. Daydream

21. Dream

22. Play like/with a child

If one of these doesn’t work, I know I’m wound way too tight. Then I just need to relax and try it again. Get "over 100 free resources" now, and more every month with JPCInsights enews.”

How do you find inspiration? Please share your ideas and tips with us in the comments below to help your fellow photographers.

Discussion 2

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Those of us that are passionate about photography get inspired by so many things.  I am always inspired by others in the field when I see their images and read about their adventures.  Read some blogs, visit photographer web sites, create some projects for yourself so you have specific goals.

It doesn't matter how good you are - you can always be better.  Watch movies and think about the composition, colors, etc.  Take a course or workshop.  Create a book or PDF of your images and tell a story.  Above all, take your camera everywhere!

Come check out our studio and be inspired by our space!