7 Unique Ways to Find Inspiration as a Photographer

November 11, 2018 4 Comments

7 Unique Ways to Find Inspiration as a Photographer

  How many times have you felt stuck when trying to come up with creative work and ideas for your photography sessions? I know when I was starting out, I had been there many times. I consumed myself way too much with comparing my beginner work with skilled and seasoned professionals- which is not a bad thing but it should not be a focus either.

 Being a creative person can sometimes cause us to halt from going forward with our own ideas because usually, as creatives, we tend to sit on our emotions and moods more often than not and we might feel unsure about the ideas we have and want to try, or worry that we will waste ours and everyone else’s time doing them only to be disappointed with the finished work, or maybe it seems it will be way too much work than it’s worth bothering with or even better getting a bunch of “critique” that we didn’t ask for blah blah blah…The most common one that I have heard from my past students and other fellow photographers through the years is that it just won’t look/ feel / be- good enough.

 “I have to be/ do/ get better first… Well sorry to burst your bubble – but that will never ever happen nor will you improve in your own work until you understand that what is going to set you apart is that you start pushing yourself to experiment and try a lot of ideas. DO ALL THE THINGS!!! so what If it seems silly or pointless? Do it anyways.

 Something I always notice about my own creative planned shoots is that for 99% of the time that I spend planning them, looking into styling ideas, shopping, figuring out what light I want to use and so on I usually always worry about every detail wondering if “this is going to even turn out the way I want” – then by some surprise, it turns out quite different than what I was planning but I am usually always more than happy with the final results. 

This is something that helps us grow, learn and improve. It took me shoot after shoot after shoot to learn the things I know now and yet, I’m still learning and that will always be.

I also decided a long time ago, that I did not want to study any photographer to heavily at any time, no matter how much I may have loved their work or that it was inspiring to me. Instead I would pay attention to specific elements that I really liked from a particular artist.

 Let’s look at the following artist Lee Jeffries.

Something I always admired about his work was the eyes and emotions of his subjects. Wow. I remember the first time I came across his photography, it actually gave me chills. So intense and mesmerizing and showing beauty in something that is dark and sad. (He shoots many homeless people around the world among other subjects) His images are mainly always up close and personal. That was another thing I really loved about his work. Although my work is completely different from his, I used those elements and implemented that into my own work.

  I also began training my eye and mind to pay attention to all and every surrounding. Studying the light any time of day, the colour families in fashion pieces or décor and so on.

Below is a list that I wanted to share with you, ways that help me find inspiration and hope it will help you going forward as well.

1. Movies | Cinematography

Watching Cinematic (Visually Stunning) movies can help trigger ideas for a conceptual shoot. Pay close attention to each and every scene- Pretty much for the majority of these movies, each scene is like a moving photograph, the composition, colors, the atmosphere, time periods, Location, styling and lighting is all strategically planned. You could pretty much hit pause on any scene and it would look like a artistic photograph. This will help you think of elements to add and build on for a creative shoot in the future.

A few I really love are:

Memoirs of a Geisha



 Do you have any favourite cinematic movies? Leave me a comment below if so and what you like about it. 

2. Paintings

I draw a lot of inspiration from paintings. I like to search paintings online – usually pre-Raphaelite. You can learn a lot from analyzing paintings. The Posture, Poses, Facial expression, Composition and Moods.

          Credit: John Everett Millais– Ophelia

3. Different Art Forms

This would fit in with paintings. Sculptures for example are great for studying body language. Visiting a museum can trigger many ideas if you are willing to take the time and pay close attention to the little things. The following examples is from an artist I really love who I actually will be discussing a bit more in my upcoming Feminine Portraiture Course.

  Credit: Anna Dittman

4. Music Videos

Music Videos are another great way to draw inspiration. Many videos are made to tell stories, with a lot of great imagery, ideas, themes and so on. 

Sade - No Ordinary Love – One of my favourite songs ever! and so are the romantic visuals in the video– Scenery, clothing, mood etc. This video is the story of “The Little Mermaid" 

5. Locations

Pay attention to your surroundings. Ask fellow photographers from your city, friends or family who own or work at a desired location, even your own Home. Go on photo walks or location scouting in your car, pay extra attention to all the surroundings and imagine how you can utilize those areas for an image.

Below are a few of my images I have shot just randomly during a break at one of my shoots or just something I thought was interesting while taking a walk. Yep, I secretly take pics of random places, settings and things. :)

6. Light & Shadows

Light can be inspirational. I needed to constantly remind myself to visualize things in a way that maybe others did not see the same. As I grew as an artist and photographer I also became more aware of light. The reason I say shadows as well, try to notice shadows casting across a wall, the models face and so on. You CAN allow shadows if using them properly

7. Photographers

This I saved for last. I feel it’s so important to draw inspiration from all of the above things first. Remember this is what will get your creative mind working and then you can study more of how to take inspiration from other photographers. The easiest way to do this without “copying” or “imitating” another person’s work to where it is painfully obvious, is by doing what I mentioned earlier. If you really like and admire another photographers work, sit down and actually take the time to think about what it is that you like. Study their photos and think about what you are seeing, is it their lighting style? Coloring? Maybe the angles they shoot? Whatever it is, take those things and brainstorm on how you can implement that into your own unique work to make something totally new, fresh and different.

Yes, I know, we all heard it a bazillion times, “it’s all been done before” – but that doesn’t give any of us a free pass to not try and work at our own style, art and uniqueness.

Hope this helped some of you!

Amanda Diaz


4 Responses


November 24, 2018

Amanda, this is such a beautifully written and much needed post. Thank you for sharing the link to Lee Jeffries’ site. That first image of his really got me and his video was..I have no words. I appreciate all that you wrote. I will take a lot from it. You are such a wonder, and I am so glad that I met you.

Ish Lopez
Ish Lopez

November 14, 2018

I am guilty of saying that it would’s look right and over thinking, I need to just go and get the best photo that i can! Love the website

Silke Kempken
Silke Kempken

November 14, 2018

Great article, Amanda!

Joan McEwan
Joan McEwan

November 12, 2018

Love this post…. always so inspired by so many and I always striving for my own unique style – i see it slowly emerging but i love what you suggest about really looking at what you love about the things that are inspiring you, and figuring out how to incorporate those things….

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