The Process - Inspiration

Often, I get asked what inspires me or how I made an image, or why I made it a certain way. So I thought I’d talk about the creative process, and I broke it down to three parts - Inspiration, The Making of an Image, After Creating. I have also asked a couple of friends to share with me in the future posts how they create, and what inspires them.

Inspiration for me is not that hard to find in almost anything my surroundings. I get inspired by new things, and by old things long unseen. I find inspiration in listening to songs, reading a book, or a magazine or a newspaper. I'm preparing a project inspired by a book written by professor and gerontologist Karl Pillemer about the lessons of life the elderly have learned throughout their many years. And as everything in the world has already been photographed, I also draw inspiration from other photographers and their work.

I did a series of portraits inspired by Richard Avedon’s In The American West. Currently, I'm working on an ongoing project inspired by portrait photographer Howard Schatz, and I'm getting ready to start working on another series of portraits inspired by another photographer.

Once I have an idea that I know I’m going to be working on, I begin to create in my mind the image - they say that if you can imagine it, you can create it. It is at this point that I am pre-visualizing the image - tone and contrast (this is where lighting - the amount, positioning, etc. - comes in), composition, cropping, I am considering the lens I will use, where I will stand, where the subject will be to bring into reality the picture I see in my mind.

The image below of my nephew Mitch was inspired by a portrait of a lion I ran across on Facebook. It was a black-and-white image, and I loved the contrast in the photo, the lion's intense gaze, his full, thick mane. I just needed to find the right person to photograph, since I didn't know any lions. When we visited family for New Years, I knew I wanted to use Mitch for this image once I saw that he had grown his hair, and its thickness and length reminded me of the lion's mane. And just as a lion enjoys affectionate fellowship with the members of his pride, Mitch values the closeness of his family.