How to find inspiration for your photography

by Michele Seghieri

In this article, I will tell you my personal method to find inspiration, and show you other standard inspirational sources I sometimes use.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer, a figurative artist, a designer, a writer, etc. If your job or hobby is creating something from scratch, you need an idea to start with. Inspiration is usually found automatically, like enlightenment. But if this flow stops working, what can we do?

Finding inspiration is a constant process, which we often do unconsciously. So how do we resume the thread of a process like that? Well, inspiration is given by everything we see and experience daily. For this reason, you can start looking for it in your everyday life.

My personal way to find inspiration

How can you find inspiration in everyday life? Each of us has a specific background. Since childhood, we have developed a particular way of thinking, of seeing things, studied some subjects more than others, developed some passions more than others, lived experiences that marked us both for better and for worse, and we continue to do so. To face the concept of photography inspiration, we need to know what we like and what we want to do with what we like to do.

The first two steps to find inspiration are to answer these questions:

  • Why do I want to photograph? Why do I want to be a photographer?
  • How can I pursue my objective?

Why do I want to take photos?

The first step is to ask why you want to be a photographer. It is not essential whether it is profound or silly. What matters is to know what you want to achieve. That’s what you should pursue.

My Answer

For example, I love to photograph almost exclusively people. I am reserved and do not like to be photographed, but when a person is in front of me to be photographed, we enter a mechanism of mutual trust that stimulates my creativity. It doesn’t always happen, but a feeling of frantic fulfillment gives me the energy to do even more and better. This is what I look for every time I organize a shooting. It is easier for this to happen with my personal projects, but it happens during commissioned work too.

Let your work speak to you

I have the same feeling when I show a photo. Receiving positive or constructive criticism stimulates me to do more and better. When I was just starting, I mainly sought confirmation from others. Growing up as a photographer, I also developed this second source during shootings. This is my answer and why I love to photograph. It’s also one of the main reasons I avoid creatively limited jobs (but not the only one!).

What is a photographer?

The photographer is firstly an artist. His medium, the camera, has a different approach to artistic research. Compared to a painter, a designer, etc., the photographer represents something that really exists. Although today this difference is slowly fading thanks to increasingly advanced technologies, the photographer can choose whether to represent the harsh reality or whether to give it a more personal vision. A photographer can make a work of art in a thousandth of a second. Yes, you’re right. The negative or digital negative development phase is significant. A photographer’s style often emerges after the retouching phase. But a painting cannot be done in a fraction of a second and will alwaysbe the pure representation of what the artist has in his mind. The photographer will always have to compromise with reality.

How to achieve our goal?

Photography inspiration doesn’t depend on the medium you use but on how you want to pursue your goal. The second step is how we want to achieve our goal. How can you achieve your goal? I invite you to develop your vision and dedicate yourself to finding your photographic style. Personal style is constantly evolving because, as people, we are continually changing. Self-imposed guidelines allow us to rely on imaginary checkpoints that help us in our path.

Be faithful to your vision

At this point, our sensitivity comes into play. Each of us is not good and cannot specialize in everything. I speak only for photographers, but this can be extended to all creators. A fashion photographer can photograph a landscape, a wedding, or architecture. But his interest in fashion allowed him to develop a particular knowledge of that type of photography and understand what works best. It is obvious that there are exceptions; for example, a portrait photographer will be more inclined to do beauty, while a photojournalist will be more familiar with facing a wedding. It is not impossible to specialize in different fields, but it takes time and study.

For this reason, to find inspiration you should concentrate on a single type of photography and define the guidelines you want to follow. In this way, you’ll be prepared for every situation.

Start with the famous

It is important to see so many different image sources at this stage. It is always good to start with famous old photographers because they defined the rules of today’s photography. Despite the film and black and white, you will find an extremely modern vision in some of them. Don’t limit yourself to photos of your favorite photography style. You need to know something different to understand what you like. For example, I started with the still life and then moved on to self-portraits and ended up photographing only the others. The first decision couldn’t be the best because we constantly evolve and become what we enjoy.

The way you analyze an image is more important than anything else. Don’t rush and take your time. If you are looking the right image, you will find inspiration. Sometimes the story behind a photographer is fundamental to understanding 100% of what you are looking at. Our background impacts our choices. A work of art that may seem trivial to us acquires an entirely different meaning if made in a specific historical moment or by an artist with a particular experience. It’s the same for photographers as well.

How to analyze photographers’ work

When looking at an image, try to identify with the photographer who took it. Analyze what you like and what you don’t about composition, light, and technique. Don’t forget to check if the image is from a series,

Analyze an image trying to answer these questions:

  • Why did the photographer take this photo?
  • What do you think about the composition, light, and technique?
  • Do you like this image? Why?
  • What does this image make you feel? Will it be the same with another technique?
  • What did the photographer get his inspiration?

Your answers will open up yourself to new possibilities and help you to find inspiration, motivation, and the desire to experiment with new techniques.

Where does the photography inspiration come from

These two steps can make you start toget inspired again. Even if you are a well-established photographer for a long time.

In the end, photography inspiration comes from living your life. Everything you see or hear, like a song, a movie, a book. You can feel inspired by a good conversation or by an exquisite dinner.

Best sources to find inspiration: Paolo Roversi, Natalia Vodianova for Egotiste
Paolo Roversi – Natalia (2003, Égoïste)

My personal choices

I usually find inspiration in contemporary artists I like. Not only photographers but painters, digital artists, models, designers, and much more. I have a specific social account just for them because I don’t want to lose my focus and just get inspired.

At the same time, I am a philosophy enthusiast. Sometimes I try to start from a specific gist to elaborate on a photographic project.

For example, my favorite photographers are Paolo Roversi and Duane Michals. Their works always inspire me, but I am a big fan of tons of other photographers.

For me, pop culture and pop art are always great sourcesto find inspiration.

Remember, you don’t need to copy what inspires you, just get inspired. In the end, the process surprisingly works.

How to find inspiration: other sources

There are different ways you can use toget inspired. Many of these ideas will focus on particular themes or photography styles, but some are a good jumping-off point for almost any photography. And these ideas give you different ways to approach photography with to find.

Inspirational Message

Get inspired by a message you want to convey and use it to express yourself with images.

Find inspiration visiting Places

  1. Travel around your area
  2. Take photos of your favorite places that can fit your photography
  3. Take notes on what each place inspires you

Many places may help you to find inspiration for your photography. You could find photography inspiration in certain cities, in certain places, or specific events. For example, a dull day may not set the mood for a beautiful photo session, but a trip to the mountains or to a wildlife reserve may be the remedy you need.

That’s why I love to take small trips alone. Sometimes I explore the area where I live (Tuscany) on a one-day trip, alone or with some friend. Even if my focus is on portrait photography, I prefer to go without any model.

For the same reason, I don’t bring my camera; I use my smartphone to take photos of each place from different points of view, and take notes about how the surroundings inspired me.

You can do the same around your area, adjusting some details to your needs.

Experiment different techniques

Using a different technique, let you change your approach to photography.

  • Create diptychs, triptychs, etc.
  • Try films or build a pinhole camera
  • Use weird angles
  • Tell a story with a photographic project
  • Use rear flash sync or long exposures
  • Use harsh light
  • Apply filters on the lens (star, soft-focus, ND, etc.)
  • Focus on a specific color or pattern
Best sources to find inspiration: Duane Michals - Madame Shrodinger's Cat (1998).
Duane Michals – Madame Shrodinger’s Cat (1998). Michals mix sequences with text to tell incredible stories with a few images.

Create a vision

Creativity is often rooted in the world of photography. Some of creativity’s best uses are to create a vision and to find inspiration for your creativity. One way to do this is to photograph worldwide and create a digital photo album about your travels. Because photography is now a digital medium, inspiration is just a click away. Good things happen when you collate different sources to find inspiration and create what interweaves them together.

Limit Yourself to get inspired

Don’t be a shooter, take your time, breathe and wait for the right moment. You can find inspiration during the shooting too.

As creators, we must learn to grow through restriction. We must find mechanics and limitations that have the power to limit us or to force us to find new ways to express ourselves. Once we find limitations that inspire us, we must set limitations that define us. By staying true to ourselves, we can learn to understand better what inspires us to become better artists and human beings. Being able to pinpoint what inspires you is just one of many tools to increase your photographic potential ahead of you.

Take time for technique and a natural light source

Many people come into taking photos, either interested or obligated, with no idea of how to find photography inspiration for their work. When finding inspiration, it is important to essential and maintains a creative vision, find creative tools, and find creative places to shoot that remind you of the vision you have in mind.

Be An Artist

To find the right inspiration, be sure to find what you love. You can do this by looking at photography that you adore and studying the photo’s light, colors, and styling.

Find inspiration from Life

To create great work, sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone and find photography inspiration. There are many ways to do that, but you need to create the vision for your artwork. Find vision in many different ways, like painting an idea in your head or taking a walk to a special place. Remember that you cannot be an artist if you’re always stuck in the same space: you need to get out into the world and explore.

Reflective Photography to find inspiration

Taking photography as a discipline means that you always have to be prepared. It is the discipline of always being ready and taking the perfect shot. However, the other side of it is that it can sometimes be challenging to find inspiration. If this is the case, try figuring out what you want to inspire a shot to show. Think about the concept behind the image.


To find inspiration, just try to open your mind and be responsive to every input your life gives you.

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