Inspiration

What’s the most important thing for a photographer to have besides a camera? It’s something that you need more than gear, more than the best camera, more than knowledge and know how. It’s something that the best photographers had/have loads of. Without it your photos are destined to be mediocre snap shots at best. It can be found (and lost, and found again) everywhere in anything and at any time, yet it can still remain illusive. It’s inspiration.

“Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.” – Man Ray

Motivation isn’t inspiration. A lot of people confuse motivation with inspiration which is easy to do, the English language can be a confusing and terribly tricky thing sometimes.

Motivation is encouragement to do something you don’t want to do.

Inspiration is encouragement to do something you do want to do.

We need to be motivated to do things like go to work. If we don’t go to work we won’t get paid, if we don’t get paid we can’t afford to pay the rent or mortgage, we won’t be able to afford to eat and survive or participate in things we enjoy. Photography motivates us to go to work so that we can pay the rent or mortgage, so that we can eat, so that we can survive, and most importantly pursue our passion.

Inspiration is what we need when we want to do something but don’t know where to start. But where do you get that inspiration from?

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Vivian Maier - Street Photographer
“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” - Ansel Adams

What Makes a Good Street Photograph? – Take it or Leave it with Bruce Gilden

Love him or hate him, Bruce Gilden can be pretty funny. Video courtesy of Vice, check out Vice for more awesome reportage on Photography.

Street Photographers - International Collective of Photographers
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” - Dorothea Lange

Dangerous ideas

I love the internet, I also hate the internet, it’s as wonderful as it is terrible. The best thing about the internet, that it is open and democratic, is also the worst thing about the internet.

Sometimes I loath the openness and democracy of the internet because it allows any one to publish anything, the only requirement is a PC with an internet connection. The low barrier for entry means that some really awful things are born on the internet. There are also some truly great web sites, tools and information available on the internet. Even with all of the terrible web sites with their click bait and trollish comments the internet is still a wonderful place.

The problem with most photography web sites, at least the ones I have come across, is that they are poorly designed (and I use the word designed very loosely, designed is a strong word for some web sites), they are full of click bait articles that are poorly written, and trollish comments. What’s even worse than bad design, poor prose, and trollish comments, is that a lot of photography web sites peddle the message that gear and Photoshop will make you a better photographer. The idea that gear and Photoshop can make you a good photographer is a dangerous idea.

Lets get one thing straight, gear and Photoshop will most definitely not make you a better photographer.

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“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” - Elliott Erwitt
Street Focus - A street photography podcast

Street photography documentaries

Before I was a photographer I don’t notice how many other people also had a camera. When I got a camera and became a photographer I realised just how many people have cameras too. Welcome to the “frequency illusion,” or the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, the term for the phenomenon where by once you notice something you start noticing it more frequently. I experienced the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon again after I watched Everybody Street, since then I have discovered a bunch of other street photography documentaries. The below documentaries are the best documentary films that I have discovered about street photography and street photographers. I’d recommend watching them all.

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