As a photographer, you will see so many beautiful images all around you. Inspiration is everywhere! It can really inundate you; and occasionally, overwhelm you. As the seasons change and Instagram, Facebook, VERO, Pinterest, and all the media channels fill up with all the beautiful things of fall, you might feel compelled to recreate, recycle, or reimagine… well, all of them! And part of being an artist is definitely found in this process. Check out the book: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon if you haven’t yet come to terms with this aspect of artistry. But I would suggest that, in conjunction with saving your favourite IG posts to recreate, you dig a little deeper in the inspiration hierarchy too.
I believe in a hierarchy of inspiration. If I look through my images (with similar technical qualities), I LOVE some more than others. Usually the ones that are associated with beautiful memories and actually showcase parts our lives are clear winners in the “love” department. I choose these over images that were inspired by the works of other amazing photographers that I spied while browsing IG and then recreated. And the reason for this is that if my inspiration comes from a place that’s meaningful to me, my created images will hold that meaning too.
For me, my most beloved creations are ALWAYS the images that hark back to my childhood memories or deal with our own unique family traditions and values. And the further removed I get from these personal and anecdotal sources of inspiration, the less meaning I find in my images. The less nostalgic they become.
So, how can you source higher channels of inspiration than the “scroll”? Well it really is simple, actually! Mostly, you just need to think (instead of scroll). I will oft ask myself a series of questions to uncover personal inspiration. For example, I might ask myself: What do we always do in the fall in the yard to prepare for winter? How can I photograph that? Or, what recipes do we always concoct in October? How can I showcase those? If I’m stretching even further for unique inspiration, I might ask myself something like: what do I remember about my Grandmother in Autumn? Or, what fall family traditions do we have that come from my husband’s heritage or my heritage? These personal questions lead to personal inspiration and therefore photos with a personal and nostalgic sentiment.
Another really powerful channel of inspiration for me is to look at my own images from previous years and reimagine them into a series. I love to do annual projects like this because they are the perfect way to document growth overtime, and because they allow me to shoot our own beautiful stories without needing a mind map to organize all my thoughts. During fall, some of my series projects include things like: a costume parade, a cleaning out the pumpkin guts portrait, a pumpkin weigh-in, and an apple pie flatlay,
Imagining and thinking through what makes an image memorable and special to me, helps me to create images that are sentimental and important to my family as they grow. So if you’re not already doing this, give it a try!