Need Some Inspiration? Try Something Different

One way to get inspired is to give yourself an assignment. For many of you, that could be as simple as participating in the regular “themes” we feature on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/shutterbugmag). You’ll not only be challenged to shoot and share images that fall outside your comfort zone, but you’ll likely find some fresh ideas by reviewing the work of the many superb photographers posting to the page.

Another trick that I’ve personally found useful is to limit yourself to shooting with only one lens—preferably a lens you haven’t used in awhile: Grab a telephoto, a wide-angle, a fisheye, or a macro lens and go out and see what you create. If you don’t have any primes, you can accomplish the same task by selecting a specific focal length on your zoom—and don’t cheat! You may be surprised at how this “limitation” can open up a whole world of possibilities you may not have considered if you had a full arsenal of optics at your disposal.

Recently though, my “challenge” took a different turn after a conversation with a successful wedding photographer who has been offering clients traditional black-and-white film photography as an option (and as a means of differentiating himself from other local wedding shooters). So the next day it occurred to me that it might be fun to dust off a film camera, get some fresh batteries and film, and have some fun. I chose black-and-white film and my Mamiya 645 and really had a good time.

Without my own wet darkroom I was able to spend all my time shooting—rather than mixing chemicals or sitting behind a computer in my “digital darkroom.” In a way, it was liberating. Of course sending the film out and waiting for it to return did bring back memories of trepidation and impatience. And there are clearly some additional expenses to consider—especially with the limitations of 120 films. What I found, however, is this exercise transcended mere nostalgia; it made me slow down and carefully contemplate every exposure.