Hey hey friends! This week, I want to talk a little bit about inspiration. In the art world, inspiration is kind of huge, right? It influences us from the beginning straight through to the final product, and even past that when we wish we’d had just a little more time to tweak things.
Inspiration can come straight from your own creative juices, or it can come from an external source. That’s what I want to talk about today, because outside inspiration can be super helpful but it can also be just the worst.
When I first started pursuing photography, I boxed myself in really quickly by only looking at wedding photography for inspiration. And not just wedding photography in general, but a very specific style. (Fun fact: Did you know there are a million wedding photographers, all with different styles, that you can look to for inspiration?)
Limiting myself in this way was one of the worst things I could have done for a few reasons.
Numero Uno – I felt really bad about my work. Granted, I had (and still have) a lot of learning to do. Still, inspiration should be motivating and creativity-enhancing. If you’re only looking at one form of inspiration and especially if it’s from people in the same field as you, it’s really hard to not feel like a total flop. When you’re trying to replicate what you’ve already seen and you fall short, you are going to think your work is subpar.
Not only that, but it made me feel like I couldn’t try anything new. I was too busy trying to do what everyone else was doing anyway, but I was terrified to even try to push myself because “what would people think??” (Quick Tip: They aren’t that concerned with you. So, you do you.)
In all seriousness, I think this is the most detrimental thing that “inspiration” can do to an artist. I still have lingering effects from this time in my career that nag at me. I hear voices in my head, can see the raised & judgemental eyebrows – “That’s weird.” “Why would you do that?” “That’s so lame.” Seriously. Even launching this workshop brought those same feelings! This stuff goes deep, guys. If you let it affect you, it’s hard to push it away.
That’s the real reason I’m writing this specific post. I personally deal with inspo-problems on the daily. But something really cool happened recently. My photographer friend asked me who I’m currently obsessed with in the photography world. I honestly didn’t have an answer. I could only say that I’ve been focusing on myself lately and then I blew my own mind! Who am I? #goals
Dos! – Another reason to be wary about boxing in your inspiration – Talk about boring! Why would I want to do what everyone else has done? It’s nice to have an idea of what the industry is doing because we are trying to run businesses here and want to keep our clients happy, but yeesh. If you look at any of the top wedding blogs, you will see this strange phenomenon where all the photos look exactly the same. Is this really what we should be striving for? (Hint: no.)
Y Très! – Copying is not the way to feel fulfilled. Not at all. Nailing that shot you saw on pinterest will maybe give you a fleeting sense of pride. For me though, I get the biggest sense of accomplishment from photos that I’ve never seen. Those are the ones that make me feel like an artist. For years, I wouldn’t call myself an artist because I mostly felt like a person with a camera who knew how to make people look good. But now that I’m really pushing myself, I have found the artist in me.
Next week, I’ll write about how to use inspiration to your benefit and to push your creativity. Learning how to do this has been HUGE for me and I know it will help you so much too, so make sure to stop by!
And as always, if you want to learn more from me about this and lots of other topics, you can sign up for my workshop in Boise, Idaho on August 28 or a one-on-one mentor session at any time!