Thoughts on Inspiration

Zurich Central Station has a huge pretty empty hallway. The trains leave from out side the building and nothing takes up the wast amount of space. Except for a man with a tablet. Photo by: Jacob Surland,

This photo is from Zürich train station. For some reason I do not know, this enormous hall is empty, except for a couple of cafes and supermarket along the edges. Inspiration came during the post-processing, the roof I enhanced to have a kind of a steampunk feel.

My current assignment in The Arcanum is to think about inspiration and to be ‘inspired’ by others. I have put a lot of thought into this topic over the last couple of weeks. What inspires me? What influences what I do? I have made a number of sub conclusions, but I have also realized, that I may use inspiration, in a different way than many others do.

I have a strong antipathy of copying other people’s work. This antipathy goes all the way back to my school days and early days as a programmer. I didn’t want to copy my friend’s school assignments, even if I had trouble making my own. I didn’t want to copy other coder’s code; I wanted to understand what’s going on, and make my version of a feature.

This antipathy is still strong and goes into photography as well. What I have come to terms with, is that there exists “my version of a classic view”. But, I will try do make it “my version”, and not just a copy.

Anyway inspiration is a good thing. It works as fuel for your brain and your creativity. The question is how to get inspired, and how to use that and what you want to obtain.

One of my real passions is the post-processing of photos. I want to use not just one technique or workflow, I want to have a toolbox full of techniques, and for this reason I search for many kinds of techniques. Techniques I can incorporate in my existing post-processing toolbox.

At other times, inspiration might be a feeling a certain photo evoke, colors of a sky or an element in a composition. I pick up small things from different people and photos, and I keep extending my toolbox.

If I restricted myself to be inspired by a few photographers, I would limit myself, and end up being a copycat rather than an artist.

In other words, I rarely get inspired by one particular photographer. Instead, I search photo sites like Flickr, 500px, Instagram, Pinterest or even just Google Image Search. And I search by different axis, rather than a particular photographer. I search by location (pretty obvious), but also more generic terms, like “river”, “river HDR”, “Cafe”, “Empty Street”, etc. All kind of different perspectives to photography. This method gives me a wider source of inspiration than just one or two photographer would do.

I believe that there is a ton of ways to get inspired. But what’s important, is that you find out what it is that you want to do, it has to be within the realm of reality. And this might be the biggest liability of them all because the grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it?

I am a dreamer, and I want to shoot grand dreamy landscapes, with lakes, mountains etc., but I live in one of the flattest countries in the World. We do not have rivers and waterfalls not to mention mountains. Not even remotely close.

It is my duty to myself, to find other elements, that are more realistic to shoot. I have found themes that are within the realm of reality. For this reason, I have turned to Cityscapes, which fits into my life, as it is. As it has turned out, cityscapes made at night, are just perfect for HDR, and from being just “what was realistic” I have come to love shooting my HDR cityscapes. Look around where you live, what is possible? What can you do? Try do search some of the big image sites, for something “similar”, using words to describe it. If you want to use a specific technique, combine the name of that technique, with your search term.

Inspiration as a topic related to another topic “shooting great photos close to where you live”, which I will cover soon. The problem of shooting photos, close to where you live is, that everything is every day, and uninteresting, or so it seems. What can you do to get out of this box?

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