If you’re anything like me, sometimes we get stuck in a rut or can’t seem to get motivated to make images or come up with a new project. Right now, I’m particularly stuck on wanting to start a new project yet feeling completely stuck. All the ideas I seem to come up with feel shallow and uninteresting.
Part of the problem is that things have been so busy, well they were until early November and now that I’ve had some downtime I’m really itching to feel excited about making some images that have some depth and a specific direction and something a bit different than what I’ve been doing. Yet, I’m feeling completely clueless as to what I want that to be.
If you’ve heard me talk about creating series (either in my webinar or blog posts – here + here), you know I tend to fall into the category of shoot first, connect the dots later. But, grr, nothing’s connecting right now. And, to be honest, I haven’t exactly been out shooting just for myself much. Motivation, where are you?!
If you subscribe to my newsletter you know I send out a monthly inspiration email with things to watch, read, listen to, etc. These are as much for me as they are to, hopefully, interest you.
Where am I going with all this…
- I think to be creative we need downtime. Time to be bored. Time to think. Time to reflect. Time to take in the world around us. Time to do things just for fun.
- I think finding inspiration from other sources can be helpful. Whether that’s other’s photography, painting, music, books, nature, the list goes on and on. As does where you can dive into these things – books, museums, gallery exhibits, social media, a walk in the woods or a park, conferences or classes related to photography or the creative process or anything for that matter – cooking, pottery, painting, flower arranging, axe throwing (wasn’t this weirdly popular recently, lol). Again, many sources.
- It’s also helpful to take a look at those interests and see what connections can be made from one genre to another and how that connects with other areas in your life – your career choice, how you decorate your home (or would like to), the clothes you wear or most like.
- Find some other creatives or friends who love this stuff to just hash out some ideas. Throw it all out there, however random or crazy or stupid the idea may seem, and get someone else’s insight. Sometimes we’re too close to these ideas to see the bigger picture or how to move things to the next phase.
- And sometimes we need to just go make something, anything. This Chuck Close quote always comes to mind – I always say that inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. Not always the easiest thing to do when we feel stuck. And I’m definitely in this space right now. Could use a swift kick in the ass to just go make anything!
So, what’s the point of this post? Probably an attempt to jumpstart my motivation, if I’m being honest. But, I also hope this is something you can relate to and help you if you’re also feeling a little stuck too.
I thought I’d share some of my favorite artists, specifically photographers and painters that I’m drawn to and that have inspired me. As I mentioned before, revisiting or exploring other’s work can sometimes help you connect to patterns in your own work. At the very least, it’s a nice escape.
The depth, layers, mood, and color of his work always grabs my attention. There’s always a bit of mystery. Especially love the reflections and shots through windows with a steamy layer.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Edward Weston. Regardless of subject matter – food/still lifes, landscapes, people – there’s a sensuality to his work. There’s a consistency to what he does. It’s the thing we should all strive for. Having others recognize a shot is yours without even seeing your name is one of the greatest compliments. It means you have a voice, a way to see the world regardless of what you’re looking at and choose to share with the world through your lens.
Another master of color, mood, layers, reflections, mystery. I adore his work. There’s often this feeling of movement whether through a reflection on the water’s surface, long exposure, or atmospheric elements.
I wasn’t really familiar with Maholy-Nagy until a few years ago when I stumbled upon an exceptional exhibit the Art Institute of Chicago had covering his wide range of work.
From photographs and photograms to paintings and graphic design. Along with his involvement in the Bahaus school to his advertising work. He covered a wide breadth of the art world while, in my opinion, having a signature style. Graphic, geometric, and consistent regardless of art form and color or black and white. Truly an inspiration.
And a great segway into some painters I admire.
This might come across as too easy or mainstream in terms of an artist to feel had an impact on me but he was one of the first artists I encountered (small-town upbringing, not exposed to a lot of art, lol).
Yes, definitely popular but I think he initially opened my eyes to the whole world of abstraction and seeing things in a way that isn’t direct and obvious. Which led to admiring many other impressionists and artists who explored the world through a more abstract interpretation.
No doubt the photographers I’ve already listed (there are SO many more) but other painters I’ve grown to love over the years.
This one will come as little surprise to those of you that know my work. Of course, her paintings are incredible but she had such a fascinating life and a tie to photography through her relationship with Alfred Steiglitz.
No doubt you’re aware of her paintings of nature but she has a number of pieces made during her time living in NYC of the urban environment. Again, as with the other artists I mentioned, subject matter becomes of lesser importance (even if there is one that predominates), the style is there regardless.
Most often abstract and often with a feeling of sensuality and motion that is simply beautiful.
I discovered Kandinsky, maybe, about 10 years ago. I was in NYC and wandering through the Guggenheim and was immediately taken with his work. Some similarities, IMO, to Maholy-Nagy’s use of lines, color, and geometry. There are layers and intrigue to his pieces.
As you can see, all of these artists skew abstract, which is certainly my preferred art form. However, I think it’s always great to get outside whatever your comfort zone is and what you know you connect to by exploring art, music, museums, books, etc that are outside your norm. Ideas come from all sorts of places and the more you expose yourself to, the more your eyes and your world opens up. Don’t you think?
And with that, I’ll leave you with, what is probably, my favorite quote:
You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved. – Ansel Adams