Blog

The (re-)emerging photographer

From where do you get your ideas for photographs? Do you think you need a grand plan, or fully-articulated vision to create a significant body of work? Or do you sometimes not take photos, because of not being quite ready or "in the mood" on a particular day?
My sometimes-irregular postings and stylistically-varied photographs are perhaps symptoms of my own struggle with finding inspiration from time to time. I really wish I had a coherent plan or deep vision, the kind of which you read about in the artists statements of photographers online. If only it were that easy.
Sometimes I just can't seem to "see" photographically. It bothers me that periods of greater or lesser creativity seem to come and go in regular cycles, much like the tides of the beach environment in which I live. Even as an amateur, there can be a price to pay for the "luxury" of not having to produce work: a recent work conference to a tropical island coincided with one of my non-inspired times, and I hardly took a photo for the whole four days. The results were a couple of camera-phone shots of palm trees - to prove I was there - and a gnawing, guilty sense of lost opportunity.
I don't yet have any ground-breaking solution to this problem, and I suspect there may be many approaches that will work, but lately I've adopted a more forgiving, relaxed approach. This process is one that still requires some discipline:

  • put my camera gear in the car and get out of the house for a couple of hours
  • make myself get out of the car at promising locations, and walk around with my camera for at least thirty minutes
  • don't worry about the whole location, just focus on small aspects of it at a time
  • try to identify anything different or unusual about the conditions on the day e.g. weather, tides, sunlight, wind. Is there some way you can capture that?
  • start photographing some small, simple detail of the environment
  • refine the composition as you go, simplifying line and shape
  • recognise when you've exhausted a subject, and quickly move on to another subject

There are no guarantees with such a plan, in fact it is all very ad-hoc. The aim is to get myself performing many of the behaviours of a photographer for a period of time, and then hoping that experience will kick in and I'll end up making something useful. Today's image was created on such an outing, when I marked the 2014 Winter Solstice by visiting the Mogg's Creek picnic area, along the Great Ocean Road. Captured between drizzle periods, this tiny little fellow is just over 3 cm (1.25") high. A literal example of starting small.