We’re all inspired by something – something makes us click. #TravelTuesday this week is all about figuring that out. I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here each and every Tuesday – no global pandemic will stop me!
So, what is it that inspires us? I’m going to start by flipping this whole scenario on its head. What takes me back to a location is often the music I was listening to at the time. When I listen to The Northern Kings, my mind takes me to Svalbard. Christmas music puts me in Canada, The 1975 is Norway, and Panic! At The Disco is largely places in Iceland. I don’t know what exactly it is that does this, but there’s a part of me that says it must be more than simply having been listening to the music whilst in the place because it’s not all music and it’s not all places. I still can’t figure this one out, so if you have any leads, let me know! I was thinking along the lines of a reverse of the inspiration from the final image back to the source, but enough, let’s get on.
Something is nurturing our creativity. Something is the cause of our ability to create beautiful images. These things we see, like the way the light falls on a mountain or the look in somebody’s eyes, are things that everyone around us also sees. The difference between us and them is that we have the desire and the skill to make something of it. Something inside of us is the difference between the shot and no shot. It could be the time of day or the time of year, and it could be what’s in the scene or what’s missing from it. It could be the lens we’re carrying or the time we’re willing to give the subject. Whatever it is, something inside of us makes us want to take that view, that scene, and compose it in such a way that it makes people want to be there or to look at the results of our creativity.
Whatever it is, it grants us the unique ability to share the world as we see it, through our lens and through our eyes. Something inside of us is either pre-programmed to create or has learned to create. Finding what that thing is for you is a key part of being able to continue creating art both now during this pandemic, and going forward.
For me, it’s all about travel. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: – I want to make people want to be in my photos. The whole idea for me in my field, travel photography, is to make people want to be there. This is what sells my images to be in magazines and brochures, and on websites and news stories. If I take a shot that holds somebody’s attention for just a fraction longer than the next person’s photo, I’m winning. The field, travel photography, is inherently vague. Whatever your field of photography, take however long it takes to work out what it is you want to achieve and how you can achieve it, and apply the resulting answer to your images going forward. Give them meaning and give them reason.
What about finding that style? What can we do to work out what it is about our photos that makes us click and keeps us in the game? This can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Is there something about your style that stands above others? Do you have vibrant colours that pop off the page, or do you have a stark contrast of black and white? Is the focus narrow or are your images tack sharp from back to front? Maybe it’s something else altogether – maybe your subject matter reveals you as a photographer, for example, is it all about the architecture? Or the flowers? Or the people? There’s a good place to start with working out what it is about your photography that defines who you are, and it’s to try lots of different things. What happens with this process is that we work through the “maybe” list and tick off all the “no” until we’re left with the “yes.” Top tip: the same process can be used to determine your favourite or “keeper” images from a shoot – instead of looking at, say, 20 similar images and trying to decide your favourite, turn the process on its head and take out the shots you like the least until that leaves you with one, final, favourite image. I’ve completed this process myself in trying to determine which field or genre of photography I wanted to pursue, giving lots of things a go to decide what I didn’t like until I ended up with the one thing that I really, really do like.
This process of determining what it is that we like about photography and what it is that defines our style is the thing that pushes us to focus and work harder on the things we really love. When we photographers are motivated in our shooting, as a result of shooting what we love in the way that we love to shoot, it’s evident in the results. Photos are lasting – they’re the timeless, living memory of a moment in time, captured beautifully in a way that really shows justice to the subject. We strive constantly to be the best at what we do – always thinking about the newest gear and revolutionary techniques – but here’s the sneaky truth behind the reality: –
When somebody sees a photo and smiles because they love the content and the composition and the subject and the light and emotion and the colour and seemingly endless list of factors drawing them to feel with their eyes, they’re not wondering what camera was used, they’re simply in the moment and enjoying the photo. This is the result of practice and passion combined, and a brand new camera or expensive lens will not create this result – you will.
Figure out what makes you click.