Creative inspiration can come in a number of ways. Quite often it hits when we least expect it. There’s no denying when it strikes us, when we are reignited with photographic passion to capture the world around us with fresh eyes. But what happens when we don’t want to wait? It can be tricky to crack the code on coaxing the muse of inspiration when we need it.
Over the years, I have found that I have been particularly inspired when I have a specific assignment to focus on, and even more, when there’s a collective energy behind it (meaning a group of people are participating in the assignment at the same time). Working on a photo project, either alone or in a group, can be the perfect way to ignite a spark of creativity.
I don’t recall exactly when I first came across Ali Edwards’ “Day In The Life” project, but I do remember distinctly the creative charge I experienced when I participated. Waking up in the morning with a photographic “purpose” to capture every element of my daily life was exciting and invigorating. From the minute I woke up that morning, I looked at everything around me with an entirely new perspective. Having a creative photo assignment like this to work on, I was reminded that, as a family historian, I had an important, even noble story to tell.
Documenting my daily life using photography as my primary storytelling tool is nothing new to me. I did write a book about it, after all. But there is something fresh and motivating that comes from the creative push of a “project” such as “Day In The Life.” Framing the photography of our everyday lives is an important and valuable undertaking that changes everything. We’re not running around shooting meaningless snapshots, we’re capturing the very heart and soul of our lives. It is important stuff; not only because what we’re documenting is our life, right now, as it is, but it’s also the everyday stuff we will all too soon forget. As I approach a new chapter in my life and prepare to send my firstborn off to college, I can’t begin to express how much I value every picture I have taken of her—of us—over the years. I can think of no better way to honor myself and my family than by documenting the precious and fleeting details of each day.
I have found I look forward to being prompted to participate in a project like “Day In The Life.” I enjoy having a date on the calendar set aside to approach everything I experience as an opportunity to document the details of my life and the life of my family. It’s become a day to participate in a mindful photographic practice where I not only observe and photograph, but also revere the magic in the mundane. And it helps me tap into the wellspring of inspiration that can be found in my own life, each and every day.
In Praise Of Photo Assignments
|Staying creatively motivated when going it alone isn’t always easy. It can be challenging to hold ourselves accountable, which is why it’s nice to have someone to do that for us. When we’re given a specific assignment, we’re more prone to actually do it. Dates, times and deadlines help us plan, produce and complete a given project.
Books: There are so many photography books available. Look for those that offer not only how-tos but also give you prompts or challenges to partake in. Being prompted to shoot with a specific end in mind can be a great way to boost creativity.
Classes: There are ample opportunities for photo classes, both in traditional and virtual class settings. Never underestimate the power of being in school again. It can creatively charge your work in a whole new way.
Projects: Like Edwards’ “Day In The Life” (she also offers an entire “Week In The Life”), the projects that happen in real time, with a collective community participating together, can offer not only inspiration, but also a palpable electric energy that comes from being part of a group. You can find out more about Ali Edwards on her website: aliedwards.com.
TRACEY CLARK is the founder of Shutter Sisters, a collaborative photo blog and thriving community of female photo enthusiasts, shuttersisters.com. Learn more about Tracey and her work at traceyclark.com.