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How to get your inspiration for photography You’re an artist.  You’ve taken photos of paper clips that can make your own mother cry, but suddenly your inspiration has vanished.  Sure, you’ve taken a few shots, but you haven’t really connected with your shutter for days or weeks.  Your camera feels like dead weight in your hand.  Normally you are a very creative person, but it seems that you may have a case of photographer’s block.

Perhaps you need a break, but more likely you need a little inspiration.  I’ve put together a list of exercises that may help.

  1. Find 10 objects that you take for granted; the coffee maker, the remote, your violin or perhaps your beloved Hummel collection and view them in a new light.  Photograph them like celebrities.  Vary your angles, lighting and settings.
  2. Remove  your everyday lens and replace it with a macro, fish eye, tilt-shift, Lens Baby or any lens that you wouldn’t normally spend the day with and fill a card.
  3. Flip through a magazine, find an eye catching advertisement.  Study the mood and the lighting setup.  Replicate it to the best of your abilities.
  4. Go on a photo-walk with a friend or a group of friends.  Compare your photos at the end of the day.
  5. Take a dog for a walk.  Every few feet it will stop to sniff around.   Look down, look up, turn around.  Take at least one photo every time your dog stops.   Bonus points if you take 5 shots every time he stops to pee.
  6. Become a snake.   Take 100 shots from your belly.  Think you can?
  7. Become a child.  Take 100 shots from the point of a 4 year old.  I let my son shoot a full card at a family supper when he was about 4, and it was very interesting to see the world from his point of view.  He took shots through the backs of kitchen chairs, and perfectly captured every glorious jowl, double chin and beer belly in the room.
  8. Set your camera mode to black and white.
  9. Look at your junk mail, do you see any catchy photos that inspire you?
  10. Collect photos from the junk mail and magazines, glue them into a notebook and keep it for inspiration.  Or keep them in an idea file.  Or pin them to a bulletin board above your computer.
  11. Tell a story in a photo or a series of photos.  Set up a classic, Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice or Little Red Riding Hood.  Visually tell the heroine’s story.
  12. Turn out the lights and try light painting.  You’ll need a tripod, a flashlight and a slow shutter.  Paint an object with light and marvel at the results.  Warning, light painting is addictive.
  13. Go out after a rain storm and shoot everything in reflection.
  14. Look at other forms of art.  Visit an art gallery or flip through a coffee table book.
  15. Look for a photography contest.  Do make sure you read the fine print.  Don’t enter a contest that expects you to assign your copyright.
  16. Spend some time on photo sharing site Flikr and browse through other photographers’ galleries.
  17. Browse through popular photos on microstock sites like Dreamstime.  (Sign up while you are there… some people find making money selling photos very inspiring).
  18. Join a camera club.
  19. Re-read your camera manual.
  20. Break some rules.  Shoot into the light.  Set the wrong white balance.  Drag the shutter.  If you dare, place your horizons smack in the middle of the frame.
  21. Prepare a series of photos for a specific concept – such as e-commerce, green living, spirituality or even cooking basics.
  22. Watch a movie.  Get out a pad of paper and devise some shot lists for an imaginary marketing campaign.  Find a stand-in and shoot one of the lists.
  23. I saved the funnest exercise for last.  (Yes, I know that funnest isn’t a word, but it should be).  Pick a theme and set out to fill up a card.  You may do this while strolling through a city neighborhood, or by throwing on a macro lens and getting close to items in your house.
    • Shoot only objects that are black or white or both.
    • Shoot only a specific colour like red or blue.
    • Shoot only numbers.  Try to find 1 – 100 on license plates, signs and house numbers.
    • Shoot only motion; cars, people, kids, animals, objects.
    • Shoot only strangers, people on the street.
    • Shoot only doors or windows or mailboxes.
    • Shoot only closeups of vegetation; flowers, leaves, berries, grasses.
    • Shoot only textures; tree bark, sidewalk, stucco walls.

There you have it!  I hope there’s a little inspiration for everyone.  Please do drop a comment and share your own tips, we’d love to hear them!