We all embrace photography for reasons relating to capturing moments or communicating thoughts, emotions or ideas.
When we take a photograph that moves us we want to share it with the world; to allow others the opportunity to experience the emotion that we feel or gauge the way that the image effects different viewers. We love comments, compliments and discussion about our images.
However, when work is shared there is always the possibility that it will move other photographers to action. Sometimes imitations will be attempted, and no one enjoys being copied.
Thankfully, there is a way to use elements of another photographer’s picture to inspire an entirely new image. Inspiration helps an artist to create a new piece of work and does not diminish the value of the resulting image, as it is unique and separately created.
Here are some points to consider when using another photographer’s image to inspire a work of your own.
What about the image speaks to you?
Is it the emotion of the moment? Connection between subjects? What about the photo immediately grabs your attention? Spend several minutes studying the image and determine how you feel when looking at the picture. Brainstorm ways you could create a completely different image that captures the same feeling. Alternatively, you may decide that a slightly different mood might better benefit your vision. The point is to allow another’s work to ignite your own creativity.
What are the most important elements in the image for you?
Perhaps the technical aspects of the image (choice of depth of field, focal length, processing technique, etc.) Type of lighting situation? Location? How can you take those elements and adjust them to fit your style of shooting? Maybe the image is shot in a beautiful field, backlit during the golden hour. You don’t need to head out to a comparable field and wait for 6 o’clock, but maybe you could find similarly warm light in a backlighting situation indoors, or attempt to capture the warm feeling solely through the interaction between subjects or the expression on a lone individuals face. Identify what you like and then let your imagination wander.
Consider using an image you find uncomfortable, or not compatible with your taste, as inspiration.
You needn’t always find inspiration from images that you would like to see in your own portfolio. Either think of it as an exercise in technical flexibility to create a picture that makes you similarly uncomfortable, or attempt to create a photograph that is an opposite to your inspiration image. Create an opposite mood, use soft processing instead of harsh, use greater depth of field instead of shallow, etc.
An example of finding inspiration:
When I spent time looking at the image the elements that immediately jumped out to me were the connection between the subjects, the clean, soft colors and the unique vantage point used. I decided that I wanted to capture a quiet moment with one of my boys (I tried to get a shot with each of my two boys separately, in two different locations, used two different lenses and went through countless different poses… self portraits are hard work!) and I wanted to communicate a similar connection to the one Ashley showed in the inspiration image. A mother’s love changes and matures as her children age and I set out to capture the softer side of my relationship with my kiddo, as it is now.
Has another photographer inspired an image you’ve taken? If so, we’d love for you to share with us in the comments!