How to never run out of inspiration?

How to never run out of inspiration is a question I have asked myself many times when I was starting my photography career. Most of the people attending my photography workshop in Brussels share that they don’t really have inspiration to take photos in their daily life and it takes them a considerable effort to find it even when they travel.

One of the questions i hear most often is where to find inspiration?

The reality is all photographers, beginners but also professionals, sometimes struggle to find inspiration. We buy new cameras and lenses, we try new techniques and styles, but the novelty soon wears off and we are back again looking for inspiration.

Searching the internet for articles about inspiration will usually return the same advice – try limiting yourself to one lens, shoot only in black and white, do more personal projects, take less or more photos, stay in one place and take as many photos as you can etc…. And while all of this is a valid advice, the reality is people rarely find the time or willpower to do it.

So, what can we do? Luckily the answer is relatively simple – learn how to find inspiration in your everyday life and you will never, ever run out of it.

There is no better photographer to illustrate that, than the late Saul Leiter. He was an American photographer and painter whose early work in the 1940s and 1950s in New York has brought him world wide recognition for using bold colours, off-center composition and frequent vertical framing.

The Magnum photographer Alex Webb, who is recognised for the sophistication of his colour work, said Leiter had “an uncanny ability to pull complex situations out of everyday life, images that echo the abstraction of painting and yet, simultaneously, clearly depict the world.

I take photographs in my neighbourhood. I think that mysterious things happen in familiar places. We don’t always have to run to the end of the world.

Saul Leiter
“Taxi” (1957) / Saul Leiter

So, how do you apply that to your photography to never run out of inspiration?

Photograph everything around you – your family, your neighbours, the things you see when you commute to work, your work place, your garage, back yard, the same tree through all the seasons . Soon enough you will see that there are things that speak to you more than others, subjects that interest you more than others.

A window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous person.

Saul Leiter
“Snow” (1960) / Saul Leiter

Don’t try to limit yourself to a certain type of photos, photograph everything!

Everything is a photo… we live in a world today where almost everything is a photograph.

Saul Leiter

Most photographers biggest problem with inspiration is thinking that it needs to be something super epic. Inspiration can in fact be simple, subtle and common.

Newspaper kiosk (1955) / Saul Leiter

Never ever rely on social media as your only source of inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, social media has done wonders for photographers worldwide, but it has its dark side as well. Comparing your work with others or expecting yourself to perform what others are doing is a path that can only lead to frustration.

It is not where it is or what it is that matters but how you see it.

Saul Leiter

Would you like to learn more? Consider attending one of my photography workshops in Brussels!