Some people have asked me:
“Martin, how or where do you get the inspiration to get out with the camera?”.
I have to say this is an interesting question and I decided to give a session about it at Barcamp Bournemouth 2 a couple of weeks ago and planning to do it again at BarCamb this weekend, but for those of you out there that either missed Bournemouth 2 or will miss BarCamb then here is a blog post explaining were you can also get inspiration from.
Go out and watch some movies
I regularly watch films either at the cinema or in the house. By watching movies you can see directly through the director’s eyes to see what they were seeing at the time. Directors use a number of angles or special effects in any one film and the techniques in films can be easily transferred to photography.
Pick up a newspaper and start reading
A newspaper photographer needs to tell a story within one or two shots. By looking at the images to an article in a newspaper you can see how the photographer was thinking. This can include the position of elements, and the use of different perspectives in the image.
I’ve photographed a couple of weddings now, but before each of the weddings I looked around Flickr for some inspiration. Think of different ways of doing the same old shots, break out of the box and try something different. A favourite of mine is asking the couple to show you the “finger”, the ring finger that is!
Loose yourself in the streets
Whilst walking around a city that I’ve never been to before, I love nothing better than to get completely lost and getting off the usual streets. By doing this I can normally get 2 to 3 times more photos as I can find things such as graffiti in back alleys and also find bars/restaurants etc. which are tucked away.
Find a protest march
Protest marches are a great place to get photo journalistic images if a large number of people attend. If you leave a protest march without any images, you’re simply not trying hard enough!
Browse websites – Think Flickr Explore and Utata.org
I spend a lot of time browsing the likes of Flickr for photographic inspiration as it is made up of people from all over the world, from different ages and backgrounds. A photographer who has given a lot of inspiration to me over the last few years is Thomas Hawk, who is aiming to upload 1 million processed images before he dies. Another website which is great for photographic inspiration is Utata. There are various projects on Utata such as Photographic stories in which a user may upload a set of 5 images and tells a story relating to them or a project called Iron Photographer which really makes your brain tick.
Hang out at events
I attend events quite a lot including Barcamps, Makerfaires, Chinese New Year and Music gigs. When I go to these events I will try and take photos of everything, again think outside of the box, don’t take photos of what everyone else is taking as you want yours to stand out above the rest. I try to come away from an event with a mixture of portraits, photos of the event itself and goings on around the fringe.
Prime it up and limit the kit you take out with you
Recently I’ve only been shooting with a couple of prime lenses. It’s a way of challenging me to find different shots as I can’t stand in one place to zoom in and out.
Take away the colour
You don’t have to do every image in colour. A lot of my portrait shots end up being black and white simply because they seem to look better and have a lot more character to them
Play with colours
Completely opposite to the previous point is playing with colours. Try to find contrasting colours in your image and use a colour wheel as a reference point.
Commit yourself to a project 365
A few people I know have taken part in “Project 365” and have either completed or well on their way to it. Unfortunately in the past I’ve never had time to do one myself, but from what I’ve heard, it’s a challenge, gets your brain ticking and you feel a sense of reward afterwards. However if your name is Alistair, you can take it even further than 365 by having a duck!
If you’re a Canon user I would recommend going out and buying the EF 100mm 2.8 Macro lens. It’s one of my favourite lenses that I own and it also does great portrait shots. The photo above was taken in Durham through a shop window. Macro stuff is also great if the weather isn’t too good outside. You can always find something around the house to photograph.
Change your angle
Get up high, get down low, look above, look down, look behind you. A great way of making your photos stand out above the rest is changing your perspective.
Use different settings and press buttons!
Even after having a DSLR for a few years, people will still stick to the “green mode” or automatic mode. Experiment with different settings, explore the menus that are hidden away. If the brown stuff hits the fan, you can always reset the camera to the factory settings.
Go photo walking and make friends
If you get the chance, get involved in a photo walk. I’m regularly out with the guys from the Newcastle Photo Walk group on Flickr and have made some good friends through this. Photo walks are also great for socialising with people whether it being having a drink or grabbing a bite to eat. They are also good for trying out other people’s kit for example swap lenses and try something different.
Explore the world
This can be done one of two ways, either use transport such as plane, bus etc or just do it from the comfort of your own home using Flickr World Map.
Rules are there to be broken
This can apply to both photographic rules such as “Rule of Thirds”, “Correct ISO” or just rules in general. Sometimes you have to break the rules to get the pictures!