Finding Inspiration Outside of Photography

Hey guys! I’m Roberta Glisson, a wedding photographer in Southern California. When I began shooting weddings, I didn’t yet know where I wanted to take my imagery, so like many others, I turned to the Internet to see what other people were doing, and quickly realized it all looked the same.

So Where Should a Photographer Look for Inspiration?

In this age of Instagram and Pinterest, it seems like inspiration is at our fingertips. However, spending too much time looking at other photographers’ work can feel stifling and makes it too easy to mimic what you are seeing.

Instead of looking at other photographers’ work for inspiration, think about what interests you and what you’re passionate about. For me, inspiration comes from several sources, all of which are outside of my industry.

Go to the Movies

I love going to the movies. I love watching movies at home. In fact, I secretly wish I was a filmmaker. I envy the scope and grandeur of the filmmaker’s final product. So it’s only natural that movies serve as the greatest source of inspiration for my photography.

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I watch and re-watch movies like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or anything by Wes Anderson just for their composition and framing. While La La Land, The Godfather, and The Piano are some of the movies that inspire my use of color and light.

Get Lost in a Good Book

I love to read stories as much as I love to weave them through imagery. I like to think I’m channeling the romance of a Jane Austen novel when photographing my couples. I’m drawn to stories in which there is a sense of urgency in relationships. Nothing excites me more than when I am able to capture that type of emotion on a wedding day.

Listen to Your Favorite Tunes

Inspiration also comes from the music that I listen to. The moodiness of The National or Lloyd Cole combined with the earthiness of Matt Costa or Bright Eyes tend to find their way into my work. After all, chances are this is what I’m listening to on my way to a shoot.

Focus on Real-Life Relationships

My own relationships and my clients’ relationships are hugely influential in my approach to wedding photography. There are certain moments and interactions that capture my attention – the playfulness of a couple in love, the looks exchanged by a bride and her mother when she puts on her wedding dress, grandparents sitting in the front row holding hands while watching their grandchild get married, the tears of laughter and joy that occur at every single wedding. These small but powerful moments between loved ones are the reason I do what I do, and ultimately they inspire me so much more than how many likes I get on Instagram or whatever incredibly cool images I see from my fellow photographers.

Now Find Your Inspiration!

These are the sources of inspiration that resonate with me. They are the places that I find passion and excitement. You might find your source of inspiration in something else: in nature, in the pulse of the city you live in, in works of art, in travel, at home, in your beliefs. Know who you are and what you’re passionate about, and your unique perspective will shine through. The first step is to get out there and experience life outside the realm of photography and the world of social media.