We have all been there, sitting in front of a set up feeling uninspired and not loving what you’re seeing. Sometimes a small tweak is all it takes to get things back on track, other times its back to the drawing board. The following things are constant sources of inspiration to me and have helped get my creative juices flowing again on many occasions.
Nature – Nature can be inspiring in so many ways from its colours and textures to that calming feel you get when you walk through the forest or along the beach. It helps to clear your mind of any previous frustration and often provides fresh inspiration and ideas. Although I am behind the camera all the time, I love to photograph nature as well. It allows you to see things in a completely different way and find beauty in the smallest things. A little foraging session is also a great trick to inspire some new ideas as well.
Colour – Well of course colour had to be included in this list, I am going to put it out there and say this might in fact be my biggest inspiration! All it takes for me to come up with an entirely new concept is a new colour or colour palette. Once I find a combo, my mind starts thinking about all the possible ways in which I could use this in a shot. Sometimes I don’t even have to think that far ahead, as soon as I see a colour I might think “that would be perfect for fruit” or “I could see some flowers going with that”. I love working with bright and bold colour palettes and like to put together unexpected combinations that challenge me.
Textures – The best thing about textures is that they are absolutely everywhere. When you think you have used all the textures in your house as backdrops take another look and you will probably find another 20! There are the obvious textures of course, flooring, bench and table tops, concrete, material etc then there are the other standard household items that can be turned into a new textural element for a shoot like placemats, baking trays, cushions and blankets, tiles just to name a few. Always look for new textures in unexpected places or reinvent something you have used 1000 times with a new coat of paint.
Books – I am definitely a cookbook addict; I have a pretty extensive collection of beautiful books that I use to cook from obviously but then I also have cookbooks that I have brought purely for the photography and inspiration they provide. I love other photography books as well and find fashion, architecture and landscape photography all very inspiring. I often have an inspiring read next to my bed as well, whether that be business or creative related, I love to read about other people’s experiences and processes and learn from them.
Online/Social Inspiration – You don’t have to look far these days to find something (anything) online that you can use as a source of inspiration. Pinterest is my absolute fav and I have been known to spend hours on there scrolling through ideas. My Pinterest is packed with boards on all the things included in this post that inspire me, check that out here. I also love Behance and I have a collection of albums on my Instagram where I save all the snaps from my feed that inspire me.
Food and Ingredients – Ingredients are like colours for me, when I see an ingredient that I am inspired by usually it sparks a new idea immediately for a new dish, a new macro shot or a new arrangement or flat lay. I love beautiful fresh, seasonal ingredients that have amazing colours and textures and when you find that key ingredient there are so many ways you can use it in a shoot. Instead of always working with the same ingredients I would challenge you to try something new, maybe something that you would usually find difficult to work with or something that is not so good looking and try and capture a beautiful side of it in your images.
Flowers – Ok so I know I said that colour was my biggest inspiration but then there are flowers… My all time favourite flowers are dahlias which are only in season for a short time here in NZ so last year I brought a bunch of them and just did a whole shoot based on the dahlia. They have the most amazing colours, textures and layers and they look amazing together or individually. As soon as I see a beautiful bunch of flowers, I am inspired to take photos of them and a good floral combo has led me to create some of my favourite flat lays and arrangement shots. Also, who doesn’t like to have fresh flowers in the house?
Music – I listen to music from about 8 in the morning until 6pm at night. I start out in the morning with something more chilled and as the day goes on the tempo and the volume increases. I have totally been in situations where a set up had me feeling frustrated and as soon as I put on some more upbeat music it made me much more motivated and I figured it all out. I couldn’t work without music; it inspires me on the daily!
The Seasons – I love the change of seasons and all the new ideas and inspiration that can bring. If you’re like me I get bored pretty easy and after a few weeks of one season I am looking for that next season to roll in and provide some fresh ideas. If I had to pick a favourite season… well I am not sure actually; I love them for different reasons and don’t think I could narrow it down to just one. We are moving from winter to spring at the moment in NZ and I am excited about new light, freshness, new ingredients and flowers and new growth in general I find very inspiring. I find sunny days very motivating and bright summer light so much fun to experiment with.
Light – Well it would be a little weird to be a photographer and not be inspired by light, right?! I often feel like I have exhausted the options in our house as far as locations to shoot with good light is concerned. Just when you think there couldn’t possibly be a corner of the house you haven’t shot in you discover a new source of light and you must set up and try it out immediately. I love to work with harsh sunlight but of course can never resist that beautiful soft diffused natural light that paints a beautiful picture for any subject. I would say the same thing about light as I said about texture, when you think you have experimented with all your lighting options in your house/studio look again and find something new because it is there. Use other items outside the frame to create new shadows, diffuse, direct light, deepen the shadows, the options are endless.