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Is inspiration something we learn?

I think,

  • We can learn where to look for it.
  • We can learn to recognize it, and,
  • We can learn how to employ it.

    Something as simple as an ocean shell on a sandy beach can speak a humble message.

If we allow ourselves to believe in our creativity and to welcome inspiration, we can employ the experience of life, we can grow and learn to create expressive, meaningful photographs. Creativity begins to take root within us when we take the time to decide what we want our photograph to be “about” . . . what we want our images to communicate.

Is it Peace & Tranquility?

  • Maybe solitude?
  • Perhaps privacy?
  • How about simplicity?
  • Relaxing softness?

Or is it something a little dark

  • Could it be loneliness?
  • How about emptiness?
  • How about cold?
  • Or, rugged?

Or, maybe it’s about mystery?

  • Quiet,?
  • Hidden?
  • Fear?
  • Challenge?

Whatever we see in our subjects doesn’t just get into our photos automatically”. . . Sure, we may be able to look back at a particular image and read something into it. But, we can’t just pick up our camera or just read about it and expect either inspiration or creativity will automatically take root. We need to provide the conditions for inspiration to plant itself and for creativity to grow. This means “. . . we need to work at it. To refine our vocabulary,” as Canadian photographer David du Chemin suggests.

The “seeds” of inspiration and creativity are always there . . . if we remain open to them.

John Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever you go . . . there you are” shares a philosophy of “Living in the moment by appreciating the fullness of possibilities.” In order to know the possibilities we have to be exposed to them (through the possibilities shared by others and with others – photographers, for sure, but also by painters and potters, woodcarvers and jewelers, quilters, chefs, writers, and others.

I know this because of a great photographer I had the pleasure of meeting, if only briefly, and more significantly studying her photography and her writing. The late Nancy Rotenberg was known to many people as the “Macro Queen,” Nancy was all about inspiration and creativity and the more I photograph, the more I endeavor to study and grow in my photography, the more I gravitate to all that Nancy had to offer. She and many others are a big part of where my inspiration comes from.

One of my favorite photographers and writers, Guy Tal, in his first book titled More Than A Rock, says, “ The art of photography is not successfully exposing . . . a digital sensor to make a record of reflected light. The art is what one does with that record.”

What the photographer does to create that record as well as with the record is the challenge of creating expressive, meaningful photography. It begins with our decisions about what to allow into the frame of our photograph as well as what to not let in. It includes decisions about what light we need and what light we use, our point of view and perspective, and much more.