Sunday, 18 April 2010

Inspiration - Part 1

Inspiration - Part 1

In his article ‘The One Eyed God of Photography can be whatever I want her to be’, David Gibson recalls, as a student of photography, pouring over photography books and absorbing as many different styles as possible. This instinct and desire to take and look at photographs has never really left him. But slowly he abandoned what inspired him and drifted into what he wanted to take. Drifted into his style. We are awash with images now. Sites like Flickr are both humbling and unsettling, Gibson feels. Inspiration should be all around us now surely? But we still lose our way and feel uninspired.
Some photographers lose their passion and lose their confidence which, Gibson reckons, we should take solace from. He also considers Cartier-Bresson’s lack of progression over his career - but then he had an unerring eye when he began!
Reaching his pinnacle in 1958 with the publication of The Americans, Robert Frank spent the rest of his career trying to escape this legacy. He didn’t want to repeat himself. His success became a burden.
Like Diane Arbus’ work for me, Gibson suggest that great photographs make one say ‘Yes!’ ‘Yes, this is my direction. Yes, this is what I want to do.’ Gibson wonders if, ‘..inspiration from one’s own work should never exceed the inspiration gained from seeing the work of others? Our own work should satisfy us only to the point of seeking more inspiration.’ I have no worries there then, that’s for sure. Mostly I feel humbled and inadequate, but at the same time inspired to do better when I look at the work of other photographers. Gibson mention photographers who embrace their demons or doubts to find ways forward. In a child like way, we should continue to investigate, to try different things, plunge into the unknown with enthusiasm and curiosity. ‘Inspiration is innocence reshaped’ - Gibson
We can, and should, find inspiration from anywhere and in any form , not just photography. Inspiration may not be able to be used directly. A song can make you feel a certain way but you may not be able to take that feeling further in photography. ‘Sometimes inspiration can just restore optimism’ according to Gibson. He concludes, ‘Inspiration cannot be taken for granted - you have to meet it half-way.’
My summary from this is to keep going back to the photography books and keep on researching others, keep feeding your inspiration, keep learning, keep trying and above all keep living life.

To be continued.

These notes I made after reading ‘Inspiration’ in ‘Publication’, a biannual periodical produced by street photographers for street photographers (of which I am not one!). (Nick Turpin Publishing)

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