Where do you find inspiration? I've realized that although I was not a "photographer" for most of my life, I have been a visually inspired person my entire life. For most of my life I thought that because I considered myself a writer, I could visually collect pictures and memories in my mind and explain them on paper with words. What I have noticed is that writing and photography, as well as any other art, all have the ability to tell a story, share a vision, make you see or understand the artist's perspective on the world in a completely unique way, if it is done correctly. And by "correct", I mean subjectively correct, and also somewhat technically (it helps a lot:). What I love about photography is that what you want to convey can be understood instantly, or like any great book, you can look at it for hours, come back to it again and again over time, and still take away a new idea as you peel away the layers. A beautiful photograph of a child will pull you into their eyes, and there you will find their heart and soul. Just as a riveting journalistic photo will take you to a place you have never been before and you will feel what that subject is feeling; whether it be terror, confusion, horror, or pure happiness. To me, this is the beauty of the arts; "Oh the places you will go!"--Dr. Suess.
I find inspiration in nature's intrinsic beauty, the everydayness of my life, the emotions, and the memories I drag around with me like an old lovely trunk ready to open, if only I close my eyes. I can still feel my mother's hand holding my tiny hand as we walked through downtown Cleveland as a little 4 yr old. I can feel the hugeness of the city, and my mother's secure and beautiful hand holding mine tightly. That's the security I remember when I take and cherish the mother-child photos I love to capture. I am inspired by our culture too...fashion magazines I have been perusing since I was a small girl gazing at the statuesque supermodels of the late eighties and nineties--Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Kate Moss. I didn't realize it then, but whether I liked it or not, those magazines were forming my aesthetic of beauty. However, as I get older, I realize that there is the physical beauty that shows up in a photograph, and then there's the imperfect beauty that lies beneath the skin, and shows through . The imperfect beauty of being a strong woman, a person who has aged through tragedy, and still maintained their faith in life, a person with a beautiful heart, the imperfect beauty of a little child who bares their sweet soul to you through innocent eyes, the deep lines of a grandmother who has spent their life caring for others. These are beautiful to me. And inspiring.
Of course other photographers and writers inspire me as well, but you can't spend too much time comparing your work to theirs...you have to know who you are and what your style is. Every artist finds inspiration in their own life's details. If you are sensitive enough to them, you will find yourself infusing your art with those details, whether it is photography, writing, knitting, cooking, painting, designing, decorating, scrapbooking and the so many other ways to be an artist.
Look around your world, and find some time to be alone, think about what inspires you the most...pull pictures out of magazines, make lists of writers you love, even prayers or pieces of religious beauty are real inspirations to me and may be to you. After all, in all this art and beauty, there is only one Maker to thank. I try to remember that as I create. Often, I admit, I do forget.
I am hoping to start a quarterly inspirational blog post featuring a woman who is inspiring to all around her. Anyone is welcome to nominate someone in their life who emanates inner beauty . I would like to do a feature which will include an excerpt of the essay (can be as long as you see fit) sent to me about the nominee, and then photographs I take of them with whomever is important in their lives, possibly their children, spouse, parents etc.
The woman I choose will be featured in a blog post they may share with friends, and given a photo session with their loved ones. They will also recieve all the digital images of their session.
All you have to do is e-mail me a compelling essay about the inspiring woman in your life to firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to have the first feature up in September! I'm excited to be newly inspired!! :) Please e-mail me your submissions by August 7th.