Thursday, February 4, 2010

“You don't take a photograph, you make it.”

So said the master.  For about the last hundred years, I’ve kept the annual Ansel Adams wall calendar nearby as a source of constant inspiration.  And though I’ve been fortunate enough have stood and photographed in the same exact spots where he once did, the end results are not comparable.

If your objective is to photograph beauty, then you are simply capturing the art in front of you.  If your objective is to make art, then you need inspiration.  Ed sent me the post below, from photographer Eva Polak.  Check out her website here.  Eva is an “impressionist photographer” and I believe you’ll agree that she does not simply “take a photograph.”

According to Eva, here’s how you find inspiration:

Whether you have been creating photographs for years or only for few weeks, finding inspiration is not always easy. We all experience periods of creative blocks when we get stuck and all our good ideas come to a halt. Inspiration seems to elude us. So, what can we do to help a creative energy affect us day after day? Is there a way to stay inspired? For me there is a definite “Yes” to these questions.  Throughout the years I developed some systems and strategies to ensure I remain creative and make things happen. The followings are my favourite ways to keep igniting my creativity.

1. Keep a Notebook

Keep your notebook with you whenever possible, so that you can write all your ideas, notes, inspirational quotes, dreams, goals, etc. Be consistent and add items to it often. In time it will become a great source of inspiration but also a reminder of your goals to keep you focused and motivated.

2. Take your Camera with you Wherever Possible

There are possible photographs all around us. You never know what you will see. Be prepare.

3. Read Biographies of Artists that you Admire

A biography is a great source of inspiration. You can learn, not only facts from someone’s life, but also discover important insights while gaining a deep appreciation for challenges these artists faced and the accomplishments they achieved. You may find parallel experiences in their life, be inspired by their persistence, and be motivated by their success.

4. Experiment

Take risks and try photographic styles or techniques you’ve never done before.  Use different camera settings. Play “What if…” game. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just explore and have fun.

5. Start a Personal Project

Set realistic goals and plan your photo shoots. This requires a lot of discipline, so start small and you can always build up.  Evaluate your results from time to time, but remember this is your project, your ideas and your photographs.  Don’t let anyone discourage you.

6. Visit Art Galleries

Going to see an exhibition can enrich your imagination. You will get new ideas to focus on and see your own art in a new perspective.

7. Learn Something New Everyday, Every Week, Every Year

Start reading books about art and photography. Subscribe to newsletters, podcasts and feeds. Take a class, attend a workshop, join a photography group. These activities will trigger new ideas, increase the level of your skill and boost your confidence.

8. Visit New Places

You don’t have to go overseas to find something exciting to photograph. Explore your neighbourhood. You will discover all sorts of places that you didn’t even know existed.

9. Look after Yourself

A healthy body equals a healthy mind. Exercise, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, drink a lot of water. Take some time out to relax.

And above all have fun!

Eva Polak is fine art photographer based in Auckland who specializes in impressionist photography. Author of two books “At the beach” and “Impressionist Photography Techniques” – visit her site at

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