To be honest here, I never really gave much in-depth thought to what inspires me until recently. If someone asked me “What inspires you?” I would probably have shrugged my shoulders and had to grope blindly in the dark recesses of my mind for an acceptable answer.
Luckily, a recent blog post by an awesome photographer that I admire got me thinking. I started making a list of everything that I’ve found inspiration in over the years no matter how little. I actually surprised myself at how much there was.
Obviously I won’t be going into great detail on every little item, but there’s still enough that I think I may have to break this up into more than one post. You know, wouldn’t want a post so freakishly long that people end up falling asleep in the middle of it!
Now, these are things that inspire me not only in my photography but in my other artistic endeavors as well as life itself. So I’ll get right down to business here.
#1 – Art
I know, this is an extremely broad topic. Anything can be considered art these days, and I guess that in and of itself can be, and is, a form of inspiration. I find a lot of inspiration in the works of others. Looking at a painting, piece of jewelry, handmade book, piece of digital art, collage, or performance piece gets the wheels turning in my head. Now, I’m not talking just the work of the masters of each field. Yeah that’s a great place to start but there are some amazing pieces being created by people who are still unknown to the mainstream. When I look at a piece of art, whatever it may be, I start to wonder things like “How’d the artist do that?”, “What was going through the artist’s head when they made this?”, “Is the impression I get from this piece the real message the artist is trying to convey to me?”, etc. I won’t get in-depth into the good vs. the bad, but they both have their merits when it comes to inspiration. When it comes down to it, like I’ve been told by many an art professor, art is subjective. I’ve found that it’s through that subjectiveness that each person finds their own inspiration.
#2 – Books
Some people would call me crazy but I can’t stand the thought of living without books. I’m an avid reader and I can’t even begin to tell people how many books I have in my collection. Honestly, I don’t think I could tell you if you asked me! Let’s just say it’s a lot. And I don’t go for the mobile hand-held readers or the e-books. While they have their own merits, I prefer a physical hard copy book. Without even getting into the actual story contained in the pages, I tend to draw inspiration from just the aesthetic of the book. The cover design, the weight of the book in one’s hand, the sound of a page turning, even the atmosphere and smell of a used book store all spark something for me. It’s a bit difficult for me to explain but I’m sure the book lovers out there know what I’m saying! Then there’s the whole world inside the pages. I’m a Science Fiction / Fantasy reader so when I say “world“, I mean it! I love being transported from this matrix we call reality into a new, obscure, even dark place. Reading inspires me in so many things from my art to photography to my own writing. A few authors I’m digging at the moment (for those that are interested) include: Anne Bishop (“The Black Jewels“ trilogy), David Eddings (“The Elenium“ series and subsequent “The Tamuli“ series), The Maine Master of Horror Stephen King (pretty much everything he‘s written), Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (“The Death Gate Cycle” series), and so many more.
#3 – Cameras
Being a photographer, the camera is essential. Really? You don’t say! It’s true I tell you!! But seriously now, it goes deeper than that. Like books, I get inspiration from the aesthetic of a camera. I have always been drawn to cameras. A little box that can freeze a moment in time was just such an awesome concept to me. Looking at antique cameras always sets my imagination off like a bullet. It makes me want to learn more not only about the physical workings of the camera, but also its story. Where it had been, who had owned it, what kind of pictures it had taken, etc. Before I knew it, I had a small collection of antique cameras started. Some I picked up at an antique store, others were given to me by my father which had belonged to my grandfather. When I see a camera, new or antique, I’m inspired to simply pick it up (This is fair warning to never leave your camera lying within my reach!), not even to take a picture really, though that does tend to follow, but to hold it, get the feel of it, channel its energy (for those of you like myself that believe in that). It sounds simple. Holding a camera. Yeah, it is simple, but sometimes the most simple things can be the most inspiring. Right?
#4 – Doing research the old-fashioned way…
…Using a library. This ties in with my love of books. While yes, the internet is an amazing and terrifically fast resource for researching something, there’s nothing like sitting down at a table in a quiet library with a notebook and several reference books spread out in front of you. I was one of those strange little kids that never groaned in annoyance when the teacher assigned a paper that required us to utilize the library for research. I was probably one of the first ones skipping down the hall, and definitely the only one with a slight smile on my face! Every time I’ve ever been given a topic to research, it always opened the door to something else. I’d research what I needed but instead of quitting when that was done, like others would, I was inspired to keep going, keep digging, keep learning. And that mindset has served me well over the years.
#5 – Glass Bottles
Wait. What? Glass bottles? Yeah, I know that sounds a bit out there but like I said earlier, simple things… There are endless sizes, designs, and colors of glass bottles out there and each one can inspire in different ways. At least, they can for me! I have a small collection started and each time I look at them I’m inspired artistically by the different forms, lines, sizes, and colors of them. Even those that are meant to be identical have differences whether it be a slight difference in color or a flaw or two in the glass. Sometimes flaws make things more charming.
#6 – Hiking
Ah hiking. A big inspiration for me. Not only does it get me out into nature, I get exercise. And everyone knows that when you find a form of exercise that you don’t despise, you’re inspired to make better, healthier choices in your life. When I’m out hiking, I’m not thinking about problems, challenges, or anything negative. My head is clear, and when my head is clear I’m clear. If that makes sense. I feel better, happier, motivated. I get inspired to do things to better not only my own life, but the lives of others as well as our planet.
#7 – Japanese Culture
There are just so many things about the culture and ways of the Japanese people, that I find inspiring. Their art, language, writing, music, and architecture are just a few things to mention. I find how the Japanese people make even the smallest things into a ritual very interesting. They take their time with things and really appreciate what’s around them. The Japanese have a concept called Wabi-Sabi and what that means is basically finding beauty in the imperfect. I think a lot of my art and photography would fall into this concept. I don’t always follow the ‘rules’ when it comes to photography (my bad!), but, though many would disagree, I think sometimes the images are stronger for it. The Wabi-Sabi concept inspires me on a profound level. Seeing. Seeing people, things, places, the world in a whole new way.
#8 – Journals & Journaling
Journals, again, tying in to my love of books. The physical aesthetic of a journal tends to be the inspiration for the things I fill its pages with. Poetry, short stories, novels, or more personal rants. Personal rants meaning journaling. How many kids keep diaries or journals about what they did at school that day, what their sibling did to tick them off the previous night, or what god awful meal their parent just plopped in front of them at dinner? Too many to count. Journaling is a way to unload everything in a healthy way. For those of you out there that don’t keep a journal, I would highly recommend it. It’s very freeing to be able to get out everything you’ve been carrying around each day, both the good and the bad. It helps us keep our mental balance, learn from past experiences and mistakes, as well as inspire us to reexamine things, make changes, take action, etc. I know of some people who have several journals going at once, dedicating them each to a different topic. And we’ve seen that journals can become inspiring books. Just think of The Diary of Anne Frank.
Well folks, I think this might be a good place to call it for this round. I’ll be back in a while with another collection of things that inspire me. If I haven’t bored all of you to death with all this, then I hope you’ll join me for Vol 2. Until then, take care and take a moment to stop and think about what inspires you in life and to do what you do.
Keep on rockin’ on!