Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We all need things that motivate us, that inspire us, and that recharge our creative batteries. Fortunately, the creative world is a big one that goes beyond photography and into dozens of different arts where we can get what it is that we need to keep on making photographs.
There are many things I like to do to help with motivation, inspiration, and creative energy. Music is a big one—and I think it’s something that perhaps many of us can rely on because as arts go, music has the power to compel us in many different ways. Listening to specific well-constructed compositions gives us energy, which fuels our motivation to get up and do pictures. That energy can, in turn, be conducted into creative energy that empowers us to see more when we’re hunting for the art in our surroundings.
Music also has the power to paint pictures for us. With certain songs, it’s easy to kick back, relax, and develop imagery in your mind’s eye that you can then create photographically. Some pieces, like Handel’s Water Music or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons suite, are even designed to help us close our eyes and visualize the things that these musical arrangements are named for. Although, there is nothing wrong with letting your mind simply wander with the sounds to see what kind of photographic ideas randomly come to you as you experience the music.
Meditation is another excellent tool that creative people can use. While meditation is the opposite of creative input—part of the goal is to avoid inputs; in fact—it’s a wonderful way to clear the clutter from your mind. It’s not something you have to do all the time, nor do you need to spend a long time doing it. Just five to ten minutes of meditation before embarking on a creative pursuit helps you discard all the little pestering things that may distract you. Stray thoughts about chores, bills that need to be paid, the weird remark a coworker made—meditating not only clears your mind at the moment but also helps you build the discipline required to abandon distracting thoughts when you’re trying to focus on your photography.
Music and meditation are two great motivators and wonderful tools to help you get primed to do creative work, but they’re by no means the only tools out there. Just look at the wide world of media to consume. In print, there are books, magazines, blog posts, etc. All of these things are chock full of ways to get inspiration. Just sit down and read the works of J.R.R. Tolkien before you head out to take landscape photographs, and you’ll see what I mean. His novels are full of beautiful descriptions of sweeping fantasy landscapes—and this is something you can use to inspire your own landscapes.
There are also TV shows, movies, documentaries and a variety of things you can watch. Maybe here you’ll find themes to pursue, colors you want to work with, or even something like ideas for architectural shots that catch your eye while you’re watching. These things are great tools to fill your photography with inspiration, ideas, and the creative energy you’ll need to pursue your ideas and inspiration. Take time to clear your mind and use your entertainment time wisely so that you’re consuming art and media that provide your creative mind with new ideas.