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How Do You Find Inspiration for Your Photography?

Finding inspiration for new photos can be one of the most difficult aspects of photography, especially if you have been doing photography for some time and feel that you have exhausted all options in your usual locations.

You might think that no matter how often you go out you are not finding anything new to photograph, and unfortunately this can lead to lack of interest and is often the cause of the camera being left at home too frequently.

You might also find that inspiration comes in bursts, possibly when you watch a photography video or discover a photographer whose work excites you, but since you don’t want to simply copy someone else the initial enthusiasm and inspiration quickly dissipates, and you are back where you started.

So how do you find inspiration for your photography? Or maybe a more accurate question might be, how do you find and maintain inspiration that will sustain your interest in photography into the future?

To answer this question, I want to look at two different types of inspiration that I think are needed in photography. The first is general inspiration, the kind that gets you out with your camera on a regular basis.

For this type of inspiration, I frequently check out the work of other photographers, either through video, online galleries or in print form. When I follow landscape photographers whose approach I like I am inspired by such things as their enthusiasm for finding a composition, their skill at teaching or presenting new information and/or the interesting locations they visit, and these give me the motivation to get out and make some images.

Some of the current street photographers on YouTube give great ideas for how to progress at street photography, they often introduce and work with other photographers in the genre, and their videos show photographic possibilities in different towns and cities.

I enjoy reading and browsing the images in photography books and with these I can keep going back for inspiration whenever it’s lacking.

All of these avenues are freely available and can provide a constant source of inspiration for my photography.

The second type of inspiration I need to find is the inspiration to keep getting out when it seems that the photographic possibilities are exhausted and there is nothing left to photograph. This can be a more difficult inspiration to find as motivation may already be low. In this case I need to have a range of options that will help me to make some changes. Even small changes can make a difference to motivation.  

These are some of the changes I have made to bring me some inspiration and recharge my photography batteries:

·      Having an ongoing personal project

I like to have an ongoing project for times when I feel uninspired. In fact, I usually have a few projects in progress that I can dip into and that give me an outlet to get my photography moving again.

I believe that projects should either be something that you have a real interest in progressing or something fun that you enjoy doing.

I am currently adding to a project on boats, a subject I love to photograph, and I also have a more fun project called Cats in the City. Another long running project is Bridges, which I return to frequently, while Light and Shadow is a project that I add to when I have particularly good light.

Cats at the window

Cats at the Window (Cats in the City project)

Working on a Light and Shadow project has unlimited potential.

·      Changing my focus

I enjoy many genres of photography. Landscape - including rural, coastal and woodland photography - street, documentary and travel photography are those I practise most. By changing my focus from one type of photography to another, and even changing focus within photography genres, I can continually find new inspiration.

Sometimes I will enjoy doing long exposures, while macro or close up photography will provide renewed interest at other times. Doing monochrome photography is often a good source of inspiration for becoming more creative, while adding some abstract or ICM photography has often given my photography renewed emphasis and interest.

When I feel that I have temporarily exhausted my interest in landscape photography I will often go to a town or city and spend some time doing urban photography.


ICM trees

·      Taking on a challenge

I am not a fan of photography competitions, but I do enjoy taking on a challenge. Often this is a challenge posed online or in a magazine which I can complete in my own time. It gives me a focus and inspiration for what to photograph.

Challenges are easy to find. Some photography websites such as present weekly challenges while other sites present monthly challenges. A simple online search will produce lots of results. The problem will be choosing!

These images are part of an 'Air' challenge

·      Photographing in an unusual place

Often, our lack of inspiration can stem from a sense that we are photographing in the same locations all the time and they are not offering any new photographic opportunities. This is when photographing in an unusual place can provide some much-needed inspiration. I have found myself visiting festivals and street protests, industrial areas and backstreets, abandoned buildings and fishing harbours, all in the name of inspiration!


·      Spending time in a familiar location

And I do mean spending time.

The photographers that I follow most on YouTube and Instagram have a few things in common. They are all passionate about photography and about being out in the great outdoors, they all express self-doubt from time to time and they admit to occasionally lacking in motivation.

One of the best pieces of encouragement that I have picked up from these photographers is the advice to just get out into nature, spend time enjoying the great outdoors, whether that is in a local park, hiking a mountain or by the coast, and allow inspiration to come to me.

It is a piece of advice I regularly follow.

Sometimes I focus on the bigger location as I walk in my local woodland immersing myself in my surroundings, while at other times I spend time at a ‘location within a location’. I stop in a particular area and, instead of taking one photo and moving on, I spend time there, experimenting with different shots. I often capture the subject using different focal lengths or different aperture or shutter speed. I vary my composition and perspective, try to really capture my subject in numerous different ways.

Spending time like this, experimenting with camera settings and composition variables, has really helped on many occasions to get my creative juices flowing again after a period of feeling uninspired.


Most photographers will find themselves lacking in inspiration from time to time. Yet if this is the case and we allow a lack of inspiration to continue we run the risk of becoming disillusioned and abandoning our photography.

There are many ways in which we can overcome a lack of inspiration. I have outlined a few of the techniques I use to keep inspiration alive for my photography, but you might like to think of other ways.

Giving some thought to how we find inspiration when it is lacking can be a source of inspiration in itself.


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