For me, photography an ever-growing passion, and I've found that I need continuous inspiration to keep my passion alive and nurtured. Today, we are exposed to an endless flood of immediately posted photographs due to the dynamics of social media and “viralization.” Being picky about my sources of inspiration has been a great boost for my love of photography. From looking back at history to simply chatting with fellow photographers, my sources of inspiration will be broken down here for you.
The Art of Photography
YouTube has opened the doors of knowledge to many of us, and photography lovers have a tremendous jewel at their hands thanks to the channel built by Ted Forbes. His audience may be small in comparison to other YouTube channels, but I’m sure every subscriber of his has a true love for photography. I've watched every episode he’s released, and although I don't enjoy 100% of them (because sometimes he sometimes does gear reviews, and I'm not a big fan of those), I still watch his content with a self-imposed discipline.
The channel was built by Ted Forbes from scratch. He has been making photographs for a long time, and thanks to him and his historic review videos I’ve learned a great many things about other photographers, aesthetics, film, and other valuable stuff. Perhaps one of his most valuable episodes was this one about composition; thanks to Ted, I've gotten to know the great work of Harold Feinstein and John Free.
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His channel is far from being a gigantic YouTube monster, but it’s an amazing source of inspiration not just for me, but many others who, like me, have a true passion for photography. What intrigues me most about this channel – and I just don't remember how I stumbled onto it – is that his content doesn't focus around gear, like many other channels, but around the art of photography.
I'm a book lover, and I’d rather invest in photo books (used or new) than in more gear. I have my own photography library, but I also have access to other libraries around the country, and they all have great books about photography that I love to revisit from time to time. I'm also in charge of a recent project that revolves around the idea of being a photography-specific public library, but I'm still trying to figure out some stuff.
Books are an important source of inspiration because they tend to show us photographs rarely seen on the internet – and even if the images are available online, the contemplative reading we can achieve by using a physical object provides a richer experience than one we get from a screen.
Magnum Contact Sheets
Even though Magnum Contact sheets is presented in a convenient and accessible book format, for me it is more than a mere book. Personally, I think these contact sheets are the most humble evidence that behind every iconic and extremely important image of the last century, there was hard work and, in most cases, many other shots taken at the same time as the special ones we worship today.
We see iconic photographs and we tend to think as them as “one-shot wonders”, but with Magnum’s compendium of evidence we can see that meaningful imagery is achievable if we have the consistency and the objectivity to discard images and work only with the “keepers”. Every time I revisit this collection of sheets, I get more convinced about the importance of being selective with my own work. Thanks to this book, we can see the process behind the selection of final images that we are familiar with nowadays.
This is a groundbreaking photography book because it explores how Magnum's crew photographed scenes and how they edited the shots down to the final one. Thanks to this book, even deified “decisive moment” achievements are humanized.
Chatting with Peers
Good things can always be learned from others’ passions as well. I'm a social photographer, and I love street photography and other related genres. I don't get involved with many other genres, but that doesn't mean I don't love to see other kinds of images (landscapes, fine art nudes, or architecture). Like me, many of my fellow photographers love to share their knowledge with other people. This is so inspirational that it could be the most valuable and cheap way to keep yourself motivated to continue to do what you love most: make photographs.
Your Own Printed Work
Every album I have published on the internet has a physical domain (at “domestic quality printing”) in my home. I invest in the highest quality I can afford for the images in my portfolio. Having the opportunity to sit down with my own photographs and spend time with them gives me an extremely satisfying experience. This is something everybody should do.
We must not be driven by the dynamics of immediate content posting that cause us to post images without giving them the needed time to mature. Printing doesn't need to be expensive, and it will help you develop a deeper consciousness about why you do what you do when it comes to photography.