Inspiration, creativity, vision and personal style
I adore this article Finding Inspiration by master photographer Alain Briot. In it he defines and differentiates the relation between four of the most important aspects of photography – inspiration, creativity, vision and personal style. Here’s his take on these four:
A. One can be inspired without being creative.
B. One can be extremely creative without being particularly inspired.
C. One can be inspired and creative without fulfilling a personal vision.
D. Finally, one can have a personal vision without having yet developed a personal style.
Each of the aforementioned has its own explanation and I was impressed how Briot connected and correlated them. I will not expound further but will strongly suggest that you again set aside some five minutes or so of your time to go over this very compelling and informative article. In the latter part of his piece, Briot adds:
“Finding inspiration is an engaging subject. As we just saw there are many ways to find inspiration. Yet, there is one way that I have not discussed yet, and that is where your own internal inspiration, your “secret flame” so to speak, resides…This flame, this spark of energy, this initial internal combustion burst, resides within you. It has been there for a long time, most likely since the day you were born, and it is for you to discover if you do not know about it yet.”
For me, photography has always been a process of discovery, both of the world and of myself. When I look back at the pictures I took early on, they were amateurish, unpolished – works of an inexperienced snap shooter. I don’t know why I kept these crude pictures in my hard disk. I should have deleted them long ago. But I did not. Probably to serve a purpose such as a reminder that I should never take pictures like those again. So I read up on techniques, on styles, on the wisdom of the masters. I looked at lots of fine photos from books and on the internet. I experimented with my shots, practiced and trained my eye to “see” despite being nearsighted (I wear glasses). I learned to find photographic inspiration even in the most menial subjects. And learned to see the light such as in the picture above. Briot is right, it is within you. You have to discover that spark, and express it in your images.