When I was a kid, I used to LOVE to read. We would take countless trips to the library, and I would spend my summer nights hiding under the blanket with a book and a flashlight much after I was supposed to be in bed asleep (sorry mom.) I would get lost in the stories and lives of those fictional characters that might as well have been my best friends.
Contrary to my mother's belief, I still love to read. I read books when I have free time (which is rarely,) sometimes at work, and still beneath the covers of my bed.
People often ask me where I get inspiration for my photos... locations, posing, clothing, props, etc. My answer goes back to childhood... reading. I read all kinds of blogs (Jasmine Star, Drew B, Momtog, Chris Austin, E.D. Austin, Stephanie Fay, Trista Lerit, Fred Egan) and while I get inspiration and encouragement and tips from those... it is only just the beginning.
When I was first starting out, I got online and spent WEEKS reading everything I could about every aspect of photography. I went to the library and checked out piles of books and read through them. I hit the local Barnes and Noble and bought a few that I thought I should read more than once. I did all of that before I even picked up a camera.
Then I picked up the camera... and I took pictures of everything that would stand still... and some things that wouldn't. My family and my friends all but ran from me when they saw me coming with my camera (although now they all want their pictures taken!) I would spend my days off from work finding places and taking pictures of things. As I started to get a little better, I started to have more willing models.
I still read everything I can... I still follow blogs... and one of my newest favorite things to read are fashion magazines. Not so much for the fashion, but for the advertisements and the photoshoot spreads. I get Elle Magazine in the mail every week... yesterday was "Elle Day" and my new Elle Magazine showed up in the mail.
The first thing I do is look through it at all the ads and photo spreads... then I start ripping my favorites out and pasting them into a book that I keep with me for inspiration. Here are a few that you might find in my book:
So much of my own style and creativity goes into my photos. I never copy someone else's photo unless it is for some sort of project where that is the goal. But I often find inspiration from other people's work. Personally, I believe that is the highest form of flattery. For example... my favorite shot from my shoot with Jasmine Star is this one:
I recently did a shoot with Amy, and one of my favorite's from the shoot was inspired by that shot:
I ask my clients to choose their own locations... somewhere that is special to them or comfortable for them. They also choose their own clothes, and bring whatever props they want to use that are meaningful to them. This makes the shoot personal and much easier because they are comfortable.
I push myself to look for inspiration everywhere.... driving down the street I will often pull over and check out a random location... when I'm shopping I find that I get ideas from store window displays and ad campaigns. Sometimes it is hard to think outside the box, and find something new... but that is part of the fun of being a photographer, or anyone else in the creative industry.
But even if I'm learning to create my own ideas... I still look forward to Elle Day :)