Last week, I chatted with my good friend and photographer, Grant, on the phone.
And besides missing each other's company and jokes, we talked about inspiration for quite a long time. Where we've been missing it sorely these days and how we're trying to find new sources of it in our respective quarantines. Granted, I know there's a lot of weird constraints in this time we're living in, well outside the realm of inspiration, so I'm aware it is an extreme privilege to worry about where or how to find creative sparks these days. But in case you're in need of a creative jolt at the moment, I figured I would throw together a list of what's been pushing my mind and eye to new places lately. Whether you dabble in photography, art and writing as an outlet or it happens to be part of your full-time job, I think there's always something to be said about allowing your mind to wander and play when it can. At least for me, it's provided immense solace in a way I didn't know I was craving.
Researching artists and photographers I admire: If you've been following me for a while, you know this is something I've been doing for quite some time now, but since quarantine, I've made a weekly afternoon ritual of sitting on my couch, with zero phone or screen interruption, to flip through the many photography and art coffee table books I've collected over the years. I bookmark the images that speak to me, usually revisiting them later in the week to research and conceptualize how I might put my own spin on that image/piece of work. It might be a nod to the styling of the outfit, the feeling it evokes or perhaps an exact interpretation of the original image itself -- whatever the case might be, it gives me a starting point to reference throughout the week when I'm brainstorming shoot ideas. Some of my favorite photographers include Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh and Tim Walker -- to name only a few.
Pay attention to cinematography: Again, this isn't necessarily new or groundbreaking for me, but I am rewatching a lot of my classic movie favorites to pay special attention to the camera angles, focal depth and overall color grade. On my list this week? Rear Window, a Hitchcock great, that's been on my list of movies to recreate with Grant and Igee earlier in the year, but now I'm trying to brainstorm how I can replicate it on my own as a self-portrait instead, with the editing levers at my disposal.
Walk around with my camera more: Like many of you perhaps, I've been seeing more and more photographers and content creators sharing photos and videos of New York streets empty and deserted. I've been hesitant to join in myself, mainly concerned it might encourage the wrong idea that being we should all go out with cameras to document the city, which quite frankly would be reckless. Of course, for my own sanity and need for fresh air, I do venture out each day, either for a run along the Hudson River or a long walk with Elvis at a not busy time in the neighborhood, so this week, I finally feel comfortable toting my camera with me to snap what I see along the way. Even if I never share those photos publicly, I think it'll be extremely cathartic for me to see a city I love so much in a different light.
Deep cleaning the content I consume on a regular basis: I have been cleaning house, folks! As with my news intake each day, I've been even more so selective of what social content I consume and how much. I limit my TikTok consumption and for the most part, even paused making videos on that platform, because I don't think it's my strong suit (and trust me, it's HARD to edit those TikTok videos, hats off to anyone who does it!). As for Instagram, I've been forcing myself to really evaluate why I follow each account that I do, and if there isn't a specific value add I can think of immediately, I'll unfollow or mute. Given how noisy everything feels these days, with news updates coming in practically every hour, I want to fine tune the content I'm willingly consuming -- making sure it's fueling me in a significant way. If it doesn't educate or inspire me, then I have to move on. You'll be amazed by how good you feel when scrolling feels less like digging and more like discovering. While you're at it, start following new accounts you might not have in the past. For instance, instead of looking for new fashion influencers, I'm on the hunt for only photographers right now -- regardless of what type of photographer they are.
FaceTime photoshoots: This is something my good friend and photographer Lydia and I have been talking about as well. Lately, I've seen quite a few of the photographers I follow on Instagram like Kat Irlin of Kat In NYC, venturing into FaceTime photoshoots (see what Kat shot with Cindy Crawford here), to respect social distancing guidelines. I'm extremely intrigued by the idea and plan on shooting a few with Lydia soon!
#IsolationCreation on Instagram: If you're in need of some eye candy, dive into the hashtag #IsolationCreation on Instagram. I stumbled upon this hashtag when Jamie Beck of Ann Street Studio started sharing her daily photo challenges during quarantine. It's a mix of photography, drawings, paintings, sculpture, poems and more that I think is truly reflective of how creative people can be in restricted environments. It might get your wheels turning as to what you can create at home!
Daily challenges: Speaking of Jamie, I've really appreciated her commitment to creating a photograph each day of her quarantine in Provence. She shares a bit of each step a long the way, from conceptualizing to styling, from shooting to editing, and it's been the exact jolt I needed to do the same for myself. When I have a challenge or a prompt to address, no matter how small, it gives me direction and purpose. If you've been in a similar boat, craving some creative structure, try a daily approach. It can be a daily writing prompt, or drawing still life objects in your apartment, perhaps it's learning how to play a new song -- whatever it may be, the point isn't for it to be perfect for even shared publicly. The point is to free yourself to just create. Anything. Something. And hopefully release yourself in the process.
And of course, I'd love to hear where and how you've been finding inspiration these days? Anything you'd like to share in the comments?
Photos by me